Patient stories

Ken Giske

Quick thinking proves a lifesaver

Aquatic supervisor Ken Giske recognized numbness in his left hand as a sign of a stroke. He says the response from the River Falls Area Hospital stroke team saved his life.


Mike’s Story

When farmer Mike Kamm had a stroke, he found excellent care at River Falls Area Hospital and within the Allina Health network.

Allina Health River Falls Area Hospital – Mike’s story


October 13 was like any other day. I took the combine out. I was combining.

How I knew there was something wrong, I couldn’t see the monitor later in the morning. I could see the field and everything, but I could not see the monitor. I couldn’t read the numbers on it.

Mike drove us home, and we came in the house and he just sat down, which is unusual for him. And I said, “Are you OK?” And he said, “No, I have this terrible, terrible headache, and I can hardly see.”

So things go through your mind, what do you do, you know? So we thought—ooh, stroke was the first thing at our age you think about, so we went down to River Falls, to the emergency room.

They did a bunch of tests on him, and at that point, the doctor knew that he was having a stroke, and things really flew then, they got the ambulance. And as I was leaving the hospital, the ambulance was going with the lights and sirens, so I knew he was on his way.

6501 2710, we’ll be en route to United Hospital.

They took him to United Hospital, which is in Saint Paul, Minnesota. 48 hours later all his symptoms came, and at that point, he couldn’t get out of bed. He couldn’t walk. He didn’t really know what was going on.

Mike went through intensive rehabs at United. Once he was discharged, he received some home health services, and then at that point, he was referred to Courage Kenny for outpatient rehab services.

When I went to River Falls, they were so accommodating. They helped a lot as far as accepting me and working with me to get back to walking as close to normal as could be.

We did a lot of walking with Katie, directing my feet to where they were supposed to go and do the things that they were supposed to do. She was very helpful as far as getting my legs going the way they should.

Lydia was very demanding. Yeah, she was demanding. [LAUGHTER] Putting nuts on the bolts, we do bean bags the other day, which I wouldn’t have been able to thrown half that distance when we first started. We did a lot, and I can’t thank her enough for the help.

We’re so grateful for all the rehab people at Courage Kenny, and especially the girls at Courage Kenny in River Falls. They treated me wonderfully. I was always included, and by my being in on all the appointments, I knew what to do and encourage him. I almost hit one part of his arm that was being included.

Speech therapy he actually continued with for a few extra months, just because we were working on beyond functional communication. Mike was still an active farmer. Mike was still the town chairman. And so we needed his communication to be relatively high-level.

I am happy to be the chairman for the town of this township. So I didn’t know if I was going to run in January, but they talked me into it.


The Allina Health Network that we worked through was tremendous. We were feeling overwhelmed with just Mike’s stroke, and all the repercussions from that. So to have all these people there to help us was just tremendous. It worked really well.

The hometown approach, I think, is really nice, because you’re able to seek those services without having to commit half a day into traveling into the city. So being able to receive that care close to home is really, really important.

Mike still has some challenges, but he has an awareness of when those things happen. He knows what tools he can use in order to improve his communication. He knows when to ask for help, and he’s thriving. He’s planted the fields, he is going to work, he’s back to life.

It truly feels good to get up on a tractor. I did 300, 400 acres this spring with the big tractor, and I hope that this fall, I can get on the combine and harvest this crop. I’m old enough to retire.