Andy's Stroke StoryJun 6, 2019
The Trauma Hawk paramedics arrived and asked Andy to smile. The left side of his mouth curved upwards like a normal smile, but the right side didn't move. The trauma team immediately diagnosed him with a stroke and called in an alert to St. Mary's Comprehensive Stroke Center.
It was there that Andy was diagnosed with an ischemic stroke, the result of an obstruction in a blood vessel supplying blood to his brain. Dr. Nils Mueller, an interventional neurologist, would remove the blood clot in Andy's brain in an effort to save his life.
"I remember him being wheeled into an extremely high-tech operating room," says Sally, Andy's mom. "Dr. Mueller rushed in and wasted no time in getting started. The hour I spent in the waiting room was the longest hour of my life."
Dr. Mueller went through an artery in Andy's groin and successfully retrieved the blood clot in his brain that caused his stroke.
"My mom told me people from all over the world, from all religions, were praying for my recovery," Andy says. "She said I even made it on the Pope's prayer list!"
When Andy awoke from the procedure, he felt disoriented and didn't know where he was. He spoke a word, but couldn't put together a full sentence. Later that day, a doctor gave him a pen and paper and asked him to write down his favorite food. He wrote down, "steak!"
"Andy was up and walking as soon as the doctors allowed him," his father, Steve, recalls.
Since he arrived home, his close friends have consistently pushed him to get better.
"They didn't settle from the head shakes, head nods, and the finger pointing I would use to communicate," Andy says. "They told me, 'you need to find your words...you need to use your words."
After six months of weekly speech therapy sessions, Steve says Andy's speech is virtually back to normal.
Today, Andy is taking three classes in school and is also in the 4-H Club, a youth agriculture development and mentoring organization. After school, he usually goes home to his family's farm where he meets with his homeschool teacher for additional studies. He plans to return to school full-time in the fall.
"Even physically, I got right back out there working with the cattle on our farm," Andy says. "I help take care of our cow, Milkshake, who weighs 1,700 pounds."
Three weeks after his stroke, he showed his pig at the Indian River County Firefighters' Fair, participated in the whip cracking contest, helped a friend show his breed stock cattle, and won "Intermediate Barn Prince" for his age group.
"I want to thank the doctors and nurses who took care of me at St. Mary's and didn't waste any time in saving me from my stroke. It's true what they say - time lost is brain lost."