Neurology & Stroke Care Patient Stories

Marilyn Williar

Nov. 13, 2019, started out like most days for Marilyn Williar.

But it turned out to be anything but normal.

Marilyn, who works from home for Humana, began her shift at 6 a.m. She walked into her home office, sat down, turned on the computer and prepared to start working. Just another day.

But in a matter of seconds, normalcy turned into panic and fear.

Marilyn’s husband, Kevin, heard her making a strange noise as he was getting ready for work. He came into her home office and immediately knew something was not right.

“I walked into the restroom and heard something banging. I walked into her office and her back was to me. I spun her around and her face was drooping,” he said. “There was no response so it was off to the races by that point.”

For a split second Kevin considered taking his wife to the hospital himself, but decided to call 911.

The EMTs arrived in 15 minutes and rushed Marilyn to Baptist Health Floyd where she was immediately given a CT scan. A blood clot was found in an artery supplying blood flow to the brain and hospital personnel gave her Alteplase (tPA), a medication that can help dissolve the clot and minimize stroke effects. Patients can only receive the shot within the first 4 ½ hours of symptom onset. From the time she reached the hospital to the time she was administered the drug was only 19 minutes.

She was transferred to Baptist Health Louisville where a surgical team was waiting. The team performed an endovascular intervention to remove the clot. She was in recovery by 10:30 a.m.

“Somebody having a stroke, the key is to get to the hospital as soon as possible,” said Steven Pahner, MD, emergency room doctor and director of the Baptist Health Floyd stroke program. “Every minute that goes by brain cells are dying.”

Kevin, an employee at Baptist Health Floyd, later determined that he walked into the home office around 6:03 a.m., just three minutes after his wife sat down in her chair.

“I really feel so lucky to be alive and I think it was due to Baptist Hospital,” she said.

Marilyn spent one week in the hospital before being transferred to Southern Indiana Rehabilitation where she stayed another three weeks. After returning home, she received services from Baptist Home Health.

She continued rehabilitation through outpatient services which has helped her regain strength. She returned to work June 24, six months after her stroke.

“I am so grateful to Baptist. I could not talk nor walk and did not have a clear mind,” she said. “With the help from staff and hard work from me I went back to work.  The kind of doctors, the nurses, the rehabilitation I received were beyond exceptional. I was very lucky that my husband was able to tell the staff exactly what time I had the stroke.  I was very lucky to have a staff that knew exactly what to do for me.”

Dr. Pahner said it is imperative that once stroke symptoms occur to not second guess those symptoms and get to the hospital immediately, no matter the age. Act and think F.A.S.T. (FACE drooping, ARM weakness, SPEECH, TIME to call 911).

“Strokes can happen at any age, but as we get older the risk goes up,” he said. “Just because you are younger doesn’t mean you can’t have a stroke.”

Kevin said his wife continues to make strides.

“Everything has worked out the best it could. She is doing very well now,” he said. “She has good days and bad days, but we consider ourselves very fortunate. It takes time. We keep moving forward … that is all you can do.”