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Alonzo James Testimonial - Advanced Primary Stroke Care

Alonzo James washing his carAlonzo James of Clayton knew about stroke, but never imagined it could happen to him. Aside from smoking an occasional cigarette and having some ups and downs with his blood pressure, he thought of himself as healthy.

But on the afternoon of July 8, 2021 when he was resting on the couch, James, 47, suddenly felt his heart racing. He monitored his heart rate and checked his blood pressure every 15 minutes and noticed his numbers were climbing. 

“I didn’t think much of it at first,” he says. “But after an hour, I knew something was not right.” His wife drove him to an urgent care at Flowers, where the medical provider did a quick assessment and sent him to the Johnston Health - Clayton emergency department.

On the way to the hospital, his arms and legs started shaking. And by the time the couple rolled up to the emergency entrance, he needed help getting out of the car. “The tremors were so uncontrollable; I couldn’t steady myself. And when I tried to speak, I couldn’t get the words out,” he says. “At that point, I was really worried.”

Inside the emergency department, the triage nurse called a CODE STROKE and the stroke protocol began. James was taken to radiology to get a CT scan while the tele-stroke team got a neurologist on the tele-monitor. Within a few minutes, James was in an exam room where a specialist from afar and the attending provider were ready to evaluate his symptoms.

His CT scan showed no bleeding from his brain and his onset of symptoms was within a four-and-a-half-hour window for stroke treatment. That made him a candidate for alteplase, or tPA, which is a clot-dissolving medicine that restores blood flow to brain regions. It can reduce the severity of stroke and reverse some stroke effects.

James agreed right away to follow the neurologist’s recommendation. 

“I didn’t want to wait around for what could happen without it,” he says. “Within an hour of getting the medicine, my shaking was better. They moved me to the ICU where they monitored my motor skills. After a couple of days, I was well enough to go home. That was on July 10. It has been few months, and while I am still not back to 100%, I am very close and I feel I am making steady progress every day. On Sept. 2, I returned to my IT job. I have since quit smoking and am controlling my high blood pressure. Overall, I’m doing fine, and I’m back to practicing Kenpo Karate with my 10-year-old daughter Olivia. I am so thankful we sought help when we did and that there was a nearby emergency department accredited by the Joint Commission as an Advanced Primary Stroke Care Program. I got great care at Johnston Health. Everyone did a great job.”

BE FAST

Use this acronym to recognize and respond to stroke symptoms:

  • Balance: Is there difficulty standing, walking or remaining steady when standing?
  • Eyes: Are there any “blind spots”, blurred, double vision or loss of sight? 
  • Face: Does one side of the face droop or feel numb?
  • Arms: Is there any weakness or numbness in arms or legs?
  • Speech: Is speech slurred or strange, is there any difficulty understanding speech?
  • Time: Complaining of a terrible headache, “worst headache of my life”?

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