Denver, CO (KSDK) - The last time Rick Hamilton was in Denver he'd suffered a stroke at 40,000 feet.
Now he returns to the mile high city, reuniting with the team of doctors, nurses and paramedics who saved his life.
When Rick Hamilton left Denver's University of Colorado Hospital, he was thankful to be alive. Now nine months later, in lieu of dozens of handwritten notes he'd thought about sending, Hamilton has stopped in to say thanks to the people who saved him.
"I've been saying to myself all day, it's going to be tough to get through," said Hamilton. "But I think stroke causes that doesn't it."
Hamilton a banking software salesman from Godfrey, Illinois was on a flight headed to Salt Lake City last October when he suffered a stroke at 40,000 feet. The planets seemed to align when a flight attendant noticed Hamilton's symptoms, an emergency room doctor on board diagnosed stroke, and the pilot landed the plane quickly.
Hamilton ended up at UCH and in the hands of doctors, nurses and staff trained to deal with stroke and deal with it fast.
"Rick as you probably all know was treated in 18 minutes," said Dan Meyers, UCH Communications Director. "The goal would be about an hour, this is actually the graph of the stroke time treatments, that's you, that really low spot there."
"Certainly we've never had a case from a jumbo jet, there's no question about that," said Dr. Robert Neumann.
After Dr. Neumann received that first call from the plane, the stroke team went into action.
"On our end our team does everything very very quickly, it's a fairly well coordinated ballet," said Dr. Neumann.
"Probably the most rewarding part of making this trip is to hear that in a very, very, very small way have empowered and helped people who can continue to provide this level of service to those people who fall victim to this same fate that I did," said Hamilton.
So while the handshakes, cookies and pictures are a welcome break from stroke team's stressful day, it's also serves as inspiration.
"His case brought our teams even closer together, we already were very close, but I think there's something to be said for everyone being rewarded for doing something," said Dr. Neumann. "And realized further by working quickly and more efficiently that we're able to produce better outcomes."
Outcomes like the one that saved Rick Hamilton's life.
"So very very important to me, and I feel a little remise that it's been this long in coming, but very rewarding to walk back through this amazing journey and see the people who played such an important role in allowing me to be here," said Hamilton.
Reducing risk and recognizing symptoms of a stroke:
Stroke is a brain attack
Stroke is a "brain attack" cutting off vital blood and oxygen to the brain cells that control everything we do, from speaking, to walking, to breathing. Most strokes occur when arteries are blocked by blood clots or by the gradual build-up of plaque and other fatty deposits. Some strokes can be caused by arteries rupturing when weak spots on the blood vessel wall break.
Every year, stroke strikes approximately 795,000 Americans, killing 144,000, and forever changing the lives of many who survive. The good news is that many strokes can be prevented. New emergency treatments can help stop the brain damage and disability, if you know the symptoms and get immediate attention.
Few Americans know the symptoms of stroke. Learning them and acting fast by calling 911 when they occur, could save your life.
Common stroke symptoms include:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
Stroke is an emergency! Every minute counts
Call 911 if you see or have any of these symptoms. Treatment can be more effective if given early on.
Special note: If symptoms appear for only a very short period of time and then disappear, you may be experiencing a TIA. It's important to call 911 whenever you experience any stroke symptom because there is emergency medical treatment available that could save your life. While TIAs are not strokes, they indicate serious underlying stroke risks and are a powerful warning that a full stroke may soon follow. Getting emergency medical treatment is important for several reasons: Only a doctor can tell for sure if you are having a stroke or a TIA. If you are having a TIA, your doctor will evaluate and treat the underlying causes. Following you doctor's orders for medication and treatment can help reduce your risk of having a stroke.
Information provided by the National Stroke Association.