Portland woman joins Heart and Stroke Walk less than a year afte - KPTV - FOX 12

Portland woman joins Heart and Stroke Walk less than a year after suffering stroke

Posted: Updated: May 15, 2017 09:51 AM
Holly Antonio said when she woke up on May 28 and could not move the left side of her body, she first thought she had slept on her side wrong before noticing face drooping, a major warning sign of a stroke. (KPTV) Holly Antonio said when she woke up on May 28 and could not move the left side of her body, she first thought she had slept on her side wrong before noticing face drooping, a major warning sign of a stroke. (KPTV)
Doctors say scans showed bleeding in Antonio’s brain, despite her lack of risk factors, adding that they are seeing more cases of stroke like hers in younger adults. (KPTV) Doctors say scans showed bleeding in Antonio’s brain, despite her lack of risk factors, adding that they are seeing more cases of stroke like hers in younger adults. (KPTV)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke, and more of those patients are women than men.

Most strokes are preventable, though, and nearly all can be treated successfully when caught right away, as was the case of a Portland woman.

Just 11 months after having a stroke, Holly Antonio shows very little sign of anything wrong.

“Both the speed and degree of my recovery has been so far beyond my expectations,” she said.

Antonio credits the love of her family and friends, support of her employer and fantastic medical care with her being able to enjoy something as simple as coffee with her husband or the trip to Disneyland the family took in March.

On May 28 of last year, none of that seemed like it would be possible ever again.

“I woke up at about 2 o’clock in the morning with the inability to move my left side, and I thought at the time that I had just slept on it wrong,” she recalled.

It was when she woke up her husband and tried to speak when the real concern arose.

“I started to talk to him and could feel the left side of my face drooping, and that's when we called 911,” Antonio told FOX 12.

A cat scan confirmed bleeding in Antonio’s brain. Her neurologist, Dr. Biggya Sapkota, said her case was unique since she had no risk factors such as high blood pressure, smoking or not being physically active.

What Sapkota said was common is that Antonio was only 38 and a woman.

“Knowing the symptoms and getting help immediately is very, very important,” he said. ”These days, we are seeing strokes more and more in younger people.”

Antonio spent a week and a half in Providence St. Vincent's intensive care unit to stop the bleed and drain the blood from her brain. Then she began intensive daily rehabilitation.

“(Our) team based approach with three hours of therapy a day, five to six days a week, of physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, spiritual care is a part of that,” nurse practitioner Charmika Schuster explained.

Within two weeks, Antonio was walking with help and sent home but continued her rehab, still fearful of what lay ahead of her.

“Being completely unable to move any part of my left side,” she remembered. “Yeah, it was extremely scary.”

Then she regained movement in her left arm and finally her left hand. Three months later, Antonio returned to work part-time and became the quickest patient of Providence’s to do so.

“She had a really remarkable recovery,” Schuster said. ”I see some, but not quite to that extent.”

Antonio knows she still has a ways to go, but appreciates how far she has come since that fateful morning.

“There's still a lot of subtle indicators that I had a stroke 11 months ago,” she said. “But I'm also extremely aware of how fortunate I am and how great the recovery has been.”

Hoping to make a difference in the lives of other heart and stroke patients, Antonio plans to join in the American Heart Association's Greater Portland Heart and Stroke Walk on Saturday May 20.

Anyone that wants to register to walk can do so at Heart.org. They can also visit the site to donate to support the FOX 12 team.

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