plays racquetball two or three times a week. But the last time he played – on
his wife’s birthday February 22 – he felt dizzy and numb in the face. He
“Not being able to
talk was really scary. That was the scariest part,” says Napiorkowski. One of
his racquetball buddies feared his friend was having a stroke and called 911.
taken to United
Hospital in St. Paul. Because of a new protocol, instead of waiting in the
emergency room, Napiorkowski went immediately to a CT scanner, where his
diagnosis was confirmed and treatment began.
given a blood clot busting drug and underwent a procedure in the interventional
neuroradiology lab to remove the rest of the clot from his brain.He remembers the paramedics and the ambulance ride, having the CT scan
and a doctor telling him he needed treatment to save his
life. All the time, he was still unable to talk.
“We discovered that he had a blockage of his
basilar artery, which oftentimes can be fatal if not caught quickly and treated
in a timely fashion,” said Ganesh Asaithambi,
MD, neurologist at United Hospital. “Being alerted by paramedics of someone
arriving to our emergency department with stroke symptoms allows us to assemble
the proper resources upon patient arrival. This enabled us to quickly diagnose
his condition, provide treatment efficiently, and fortunately yield a fantastic
The next thing Napiorkowski
remembers is waking up in an intensive care room and seeing his wife and
Napiorkowski the before and after pictures of his brain. The blood clot that
could have killed him was not only gone, there were no visible signs of damage.
Physicians call this
an “aborted” stroke. Napiorkowski calls it a miracle. Other than the emotional
trauma of nearly dying, he has had zero physical problems.
“Of all of the
things I could have been doing when this happened, I was with friends and in
the right place at the right time,” he said.