A suburban family's nightmare had a happy ending after a woman suffered a stroke in her home, with her husband recognizing the signs of that stroke after having seen an NBC Chicago story the previous day.
Jenny Tucker was tidying up dog toys in the family room of her Winnetka home last month, when something wasn’t right.
“I was picking up in this room and bumped into a chair, which I thought was odd. And then kind of stumbled into the coffee table,” Jenny said.
Determined to continue on with her morning, she then went into the kitchen to finish her son’s school lunch, but couldn’t close the bread bag.
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“I was trying to put the twist tie back onto the bread and my fingers just would not work,” Jenny said.
Tucker, a 45 year old mom of two teenage boys, went to talk to her youngest son and was dragging her right leg as she walked back into the family room.
“I just looked at Ryan and I said, ‘Something is wrong. Go get your dad right away,'” Jenny said.
When her husband, Dave, came into the room, he noticed Jenny didn’t look good.
“She was sort of struggling to keep her balance. She just said something is wrong and her speech was kind of slow, a little bit slurred,” Dave said. “I took one look at her and I said I’m calling 911.”
Dave knew he had to call for paramedics right away after watching an NBC Chicago story.
“Luckily we had just watched your segment the day before and you realize time is of the essence,” Dave said.
The Tuckers had seen a story that first aired on May 22, which spelled out the signs of a stroke.
They had no idea they soon would be meeting one of the doctors interviewed for the story, Dr. William Ares, when Jenny was rushed to the emergency department at NorthShore Evanston Hospital and given clot-busting medication.
“The neurosurgeon, Dr. Ares, who I had seen the previous day, walked into the room because if the clot-busting medicine doesn’t work, he has to manually go in and remove the clot. After they administered the medicine I was just like, ‘I think I saw you on TV yesterday in a segment on strokes. He’s like, 'yes, you did,'” Dave said.
Dr. Ares remembers the moment as well.
“Her husband was just like, ‘Are you the guy I saw on TV?’ And it was just, it was such a great experience because, you know, the reason we do things like this is to make sure we educate people,” Ares said.
Part of that education is letting people know the acronym used to help people remember stroke symptoms recently changed.
Previously it was FAST, which stood for “Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, then it’s Time to call 911.”
Now the acronym is a phrase, “BE FAST” with the “B” and the “E” standing for Balance and Eyesight issues.
“There can be subtle signs of a stroke, like balance, that is one of the things that we don't really think about when we historically talked about stroke,” Ares said.
Balance issues were the first sign of Jenny’s stroke, but she wasn’t convinced at first.
“As soon as the whole right side started to feel weird, I think it finally clicked,” Jenny said.
“It’s funny because it was happening verbatim, what we we watched the previous day (on the NBC 5 story) was unfolding in front of me. I just knew that you had to get them help as quickly as possible,” Dave said.
“She was one of the about 20% of people who will open up a big blocked blood vessel with that clot buster medication and didn't have to go on to the more invasive procedure and I'm more than happy to give up on that procedure and let her get better with a medicine,” Ares said.
With no lasting damage from the stroke, Jenny and Dave are sharing her stroke story to help others.
“Knowing the signs is huge. And like I said, You think you're young or this couldn't happen to me, but the reality is, it can happen to anybody,” Jenny said.