Know What To Do When STROKES HIT!

May 17, 2023 at 10:49 am by WGNS

(MURFREESBORO) For more than 11 summers, 75-year-old Albert “Ed” Mendez has volunteered his time by teaching archery lessons at his church's annual youth camp. On June 5, youth camp 2023 kicks off at World Outreach Church in Murfreesboro and the camp's beloved archery instructor is excited to once again cheer students on. This summer holds special meaning for Ed, who knows he almost didn't live to see it. 

Just weeks ago, on March 24, 2023, Ed and his wife Martha were enjoying a meal of fried chicken and sweet tea to celebrate that they had filed their taxes and, for the first time in their 30-year marriage, didn't owe more money. This was a bright spot in a challenging month: Martha had a dear friend who was not doing well after a stroke the week before. Martha's own brother was also in the hospital because of a recent stroke. The couple felt grateful that her brother was hanging on and found comfort in celebrating a small financial victory with a good meal.  


And then, suddenly, as Ed turned to reach for more iced tea, he crashed to the floor from his chair. "Tea splashed everywhere. I heard a ‘boom’ as he dropped," recalls Martha. She jumped from her chair and tried to help Ed back into his seat. But although he was conscious and even talking, Ed’s left leg and left arm were useless. The left side of his mouth was also drooping. "I recognized the droop in his mouth because it was the same look on my brother's face in the days since his stroke." Martha knew that she had to act quickly because, as her friend's husband had stressed, time is of the essence when it comes to strokes.  

Ed was rushed to Ascension Saint Thomas Rutherford by ambulance, where Dr. Chip Bell performed a procedure called thrombectomy in which a catheter is used to remove a blood clot that has formed in the brain. This minimally invasive procedure became available in Murfreesboro just last year. Previously, stroke patients required time-consuming transfer to Nashville in order to receive this intervention. Because swift removal of the blood clot is essential to reducing brain damage, access to care close to home significantly improves patient outcomes.

Ed's procedure went smoothly and he was discharged from the hospital within 5 days. The couple is diligent about Ed's followup appointments and his occupational, speech, and physical therapy sessions. His recovery so far? "I'd say it's spectacular," says Ed. His doctors agree. And though his vision has been negatively impacted in his right eye, the couple is hopeful it will improve so that he can soon drive again. 

"I cried and cried and cried," says Martha, referring to the days following Ed's stroke. "Ascension Saint Thomas saved my husband's life." 

As for youth camp, Ed is excited for his 12th year of teaching archery. "I may not be ready to shoot targets, but I can help with set up, teach safety instructions, and be there to support the students," he says. This will be a special return to a beloved tradition and a welcome change of seasons after a hard spring.