Life was good for the 48-year-old James Ashby, a husband, father and grandfather who worked full time as a QMA three days a week and at his family-owned vegetable farm four days a week. When it came to his health, James stated that he had a history of high blood pressure and that was it.
A tingling on some of his left side, that felt more like a possible pinched nerve, was what first alerted James. It was Oct. 21, 2019 and James was at work so he had a nurse practitioner check him out and they confirmed he passed all the stroke tests. James continued to work and within four hours, the tingling was gone, and he felt fine. That night however the tingling came back, but again he passed all the stroke tests the next day. The tingling then began to spread to his entire left side and by the third day James’s left abdominal side was tight and numb. At that time, he decided to go to the ER at UofL Health – UofL Hospital, concerned that if he was suffering from a pinched nerve, it would continue to get worse and not better.
Stating that he had left sided tingling; every staff member dropped what they were doing and came right away to assess James Ashby. He was taken back to room 9. James recalled, “Everything went fairly fast with CT and MRI. I heard many room nine calls while I waited for results but staff kept coming to check on me.”
James, feeling uncertain and worried, was informed that night by a nurse that that his scans had confirmed a stroke. He was admitted to the stroke unit at UofL Hospital and was seen by the stroke doctor the next day. James stated, “I was admitted to 9 South (9S) for two to three days. Staff there were very kind–the CA’s, nurses and doctors. I felt I was well informed of what was going on and why.” Although, he felt irritated that he could move his left side but could not feel it and it took a while for his blood pressure to come down, he felt grateful that he did not have any worse symptoms.
After James was discharged, with follow-up appointments, “lots of meds” he said, and education to quit smoking, he went to one rehab. Unfortunately, it was decided he would not benefit from rehab because although he could not feel his left side, he could move it. Not feeling his left side was one of James’ biggest adjustments and he often worried that the feelings would never come back.
Post discharge from the hospital, James noted that his blood pressure stayed high at times but gradually reduced and got better. He also he got confused a few times and would forget things the first month but then it slowly began to get better. He even lost interest in music, TV, talking and caring for his garden. James recalls, “That didn’t last long though and within a month all my interests came back.”
By March of 2020 James had gained most of his feelings on the left side, including his fingers and only had a few numb spots left in his foot. He is glad to have never lost any strength or the ability to do anything. James has not been able to completely stop smoking yet, but overall is doing wonderful since his stroke.
When asked about his hospital experience; James stated that considering he had a stroke, he felt his experience was wonderful–that he was well taken care of and his questions were always answered by the nurses and doctors. He never felt like the staff was rushing to get to another patient.
James’ wife, Kendra, also confirmed that her experience as James’ spouse and an employee of UofL Hospital was amazing. She shared that no one knew she worked at UofL Hospital until closer to the day of discharge. Kendra stated, ‘I saw no reason to bring it up, his stroke had nothing to do with my job there.”
She recalled that from the moment they stepped into the ER and James said, “left side numbness”, the staff dropped what they were doing and took care of him. Kendra was stunned when it happened, as she was hoping it was only a pinched nerve because he did not have “normal” stroke signs. When they rushed James back and she heard them say room nine, she was alone and started to get scared for him. The chaplain came out first and sat with her and kept updating her on what was happening. The security guard also kept checking on her and updating her and the interpreter, who was the only person who knew she worked at UofL Hospital, hugged her, and talked to her for a while.
Even as an employee, Kendra was impressed and said, “It made me proud how well he was treated from the ER to 9S and even after discharge.” The stroke social worker helped them with some very difficult things and went out of her way to help the couple even after discharge. “The nursing and support staff were also so kind.” Kendra said, “It made me feel good that no one knew I worked here, I wanted to see how patients and families were treated. We were very thankful to everyone and appreciate the care that they gave us both.”