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Area residents hope to raise awareness of stroke and its symptoms

HASTINGS — Maxine Reed was an active member of the Holdrege community. She often held Bible studies at her home and transported friends from place to place.

For Maxine, now a resident at Holdrege Memorial Homes, sharing the story of her stroke is extremely important. Maxine’s daughter, Becky Ehrenberg, said that her mother is encouraging others to learn the signs and symptoms.

“She just wants somebody else to benefit from what she experienced,” Ehrenberg said. “This has been such a shock for her. And even though it’s been a hard journey, she has felt God with her and she wants to help others know there is life after stroke.”

Ehrenberg said her mother actually had a small stroke awhile before she ever realized there was a problem. She just felt “not right” but did not seek medical attention.

Then, on a day in early November 2016, Reed was driving a friend to lunch when she realized something was really wrong. Her friend assisted in pulling the car to a stop at the side of the road, then taking Reed to Phelps Memorial Hospital in Holdrege. There, Reed was rapidly diagnosed for stroke, underwent a CT scan and was given the clot-busting medication tPA. She was flown by helicopter to Mary Lanning Healthcare, a certified primary stroke center, as soon as possible afterward.

While at MLH, Reed had a vagal episode, during which her heart rate slowed and blood flow to the brain was inadequate. When stroke victims do not get adequate blood flow to the brain, that part of their brain is damaged. Reed’s symptoms worsened. Because of the stroke, paired with the vagal episode, Reed now struggles with her speech.

Despite the setback, Reed continued to work on recovery. She moved from the MLH Intensive Care Unit to the Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit on the Third Floor.

Ehrenberg stressed that from the instant her mom arrived at MLH she was treated wonderfully. All of the staff at MLH, especially Loyal Teano, physical therapist, took their time with Reed.

“Nobody spoke down to mom,” Ehrenberg said. “They really connected with her. They looked into her eyes. For stroke patients, it’s important not to be rushing or using a loud voice.”

Ehrenberg said Teano brought a brightness to her mother’s days at MLH.

“That was very important because stroke victims go through almost a mourning time,” she said. “Mom was so active. Then you wake up one day and this happens. From then on, it’s a different life.”

Ehrenberg lives in Holdrege. She has four brothers there, including Bernie Reed, and one sister in Colorado. For the family, being able to be a part of their mother’s treatment was key.

“Our whole family appreciated the hospital and staff for including us and wanting us to be involved,” Bernie Reed said. “It’s a shock that comes with stroke and the whole family has to heal. MLH was very gracious and let us come alongside our mother.”

Ehrenberg said her mother connected well with neurologist Dr. Lorraine Edwards. Also, the Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit at MLH had everything she needed.

“We felt at peace having her stay in Hastings, rather than going to a larger place,” Ehrenberg said.

“We can’t say enough about the staff. Dr. Edwards is just a gem. All the therapists, nursing staff and the CNAs were wonderful.” she said. “We felt so taken care of. If we had concerns, we talked and the staff was willing to get answers for us. Even the social worker was so good about getting her ready to transfer.”

Ehrenberg said she and her entire family would encourage others to seek stroke care at MLH.

“If this has to happen, Hastings is a good place to be,” she said.

During National Stroke Awareness Month, the Mary Lanning Stroke Team urges you to learn the warning signs of stroke, F.A.S.T.

F = FACE Does one side of the face droop?
A = ARMS Does one arm drift downward?
S = SPEECH Does speech sound slurred?
T = TIME It is time to call 911.