Daphne Everett had a large blood clot blocking blood to her brain that paralyzed her right side and affected her speech
Daphne Everett, 66, had no idea she was about to have an extraordinary March afternoon. Stroke can happen to anyone at anytime, and that is exactly what happened to Daphne.
Stroke symptoms come on suddenly
It was 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 29, 2023, and closing time at The Kitchen Table — Daphne and her husband of 40 years, Robbie, own this farm-to-table restaurant in Pound Ridge, New York. Daphne was sitting on a barstool. She felt lightheaded when she stood up to go home, but thought she just stood up too quickly. She sat back down and felt okay enough to drive home. But Robbie followed her home to be safe. Good thing he did.
Daphne got home first and started to take Wallace, their 160-pound Newfoundland, outside. Suddenly, the entire right side of her body stopped functioning.
“I didn’t know what was happening. Luckily, I didn’t fall and was able to sit on a bench in the entryway and then roll onto the floor. Wallace laid down next to me and that’s where Robbie found us.”
Robbie is in the Pound Ridge Volunteer Ambulance Corps and recognized that Daphne was likely having a stroke. He immediately called 9-1-1.
The ambulance arrived quickly, and emergency medical services (EMS) knew to take Daphne to Norwalk Hospital, which is a Level II Trauma Center.
“I didn’t have time to process my situation because everything was happening so quickly,” Daphne said. “But I knew I was in trouble when I tried to talk to Robbie and could only make garbled sounds.”
Emergency stroke evaluation and mechanical thrombectomy at Norwalk Hospital
Nuvance Health’s hospitals have stroke rapid response teams ready to provide specialized stroke evaluation and care. Norwalk Hospital is one of the only Thrombectomy-Capable Stroke Centers certified by The Joint Commission in Connecticut and provides the highest quality stroke care.
EMS alerted the Bauer Emergency Center at Norwalk Hospital that they were on their way with Daphne. The rapid response team was already in place when Daphne arrived at the hospital.
After a quick assessment and tests, the stroke care team, including emergency medicine doctor Dr. Robert Capodanno, confirmed Daphne had a massive ischemic stroke.
An ischemic stroke happens when a blood clot blocks oxygen-rich blood supply to the brain. Sometimes called a brain attack, a stroke is a life-threatening medical emergency that can result is brain damage, permanent disability or death if it is not treated quickly.
Related content: Top four things you need to know about stroke
Neurosurgeon Dr. Joshua Marcus was on the scene and ready to perform a mechanical thrombectomy to treat the stroke.
“I was hoping for the best as they wheeled Daphne away to the operating room,” Robbie said.
During a mechanical thrombectomy, an endovascular neurosurgeon uses x-ray guidance to lead a catheter through an artery in the groin or wrist, up the aorta and into the brain to remove the clot. Dr. Marcus performed the procedure in Norwalk Hospital’s Biplane Angiography Suite with the latest technology.
Learn more: Norwalk Hospital transforms neuroendovascular and heart care with new biplane angiography system
“I have some memory of being in the emergency department and going into the procedure, but don’t remember anything from having the procedure,” Daphne said.
“At 9 o’clock, when they wheeled Daphne past me, she raised her head, waved her right hand and leg and said something to me that I could understand. Turns out, the best was what the hospital delivered,” Robbie said.
“The next thing I remember was waking up with the neurosurgery team surrounding me. When they asked me how I was, I raised my right arm, fist-pumped and said ‘I’m good’ clearly. They all cheered and high-fived each other!”
Daphne recovered in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) after three days. She passed all the neuro checks, including being able to move and talk with no deficits.
At home on Saturday, she was able to eat, shower and visit with her three children, ages 39, 37 and 29.
“I can’t believe I was able to drive Daphne home just three days after she had a stroke and she was as good as new; it was like nothing happened,” Robbie said.
However, on Sunday, Daphne had terrible pain in her right side. Robbie took her back to Norwalk Hospital when the pain intensified. Turns out, Daphne had a blood clot near her kidneys, which her care team treated with a blood thinning medication. She recovered in the hospital for one day and went home feeling well.
It also turns out that Daphne had atrial fibrillation (AFib) but did not know it. AFib is an irregular heartbeat and a risk factor for stroke and blood clots.
“Now in hindsight, I did feel my heart racing sometimes, especially at night. But I chalked it up to stress,” Daphne said.
Daphne lives a healthy life. She likes hiking, yoga and walking Wallace. She never would have thought she could have a stroke.
Related content: Stroke risk in women, what you need to know
Recovery after a stroke
Daphne will take three medications for the rest of her life to reduce her risk of having another stroke, including a blood thinner, AFib treatment and medication to maintain her cholesterol and prevent coronary artery disease.
Her care team will continue to monitor her too, including cardiologist Dr. David Lomnitz and neurologist Dr. David Hahn.
“I feel great and am grateful for this second chance at life,” Daphne said.
Daphne is looking forward to continuing to manage their thriving restaurant and being part of the Pound Ridge community.
“Robbie and I are so thankful for the excellent care I received at Norwalk Hospital, from the emergency department, stroke and neurosurgery teams to the ICU and occupational and physical therapists,” Daphne said. “I feel extremely lucky. Dr. Marcus is my hero, and the stroke coordinator Michele Lecardo is unbelievable.”
Daphne continued, “It still feels surreal that I had a near-death experience because I feel fine. I often think, ‘Wait, I had a stroke?’ because I have no deficits,” Daphne said.
“In addition to the excellent care Daphne received at Norwalk Hospital, I was grateful for how communicative everyone was with me. Michele and the rest of Daphne’s care team made sure I knew the status of my wife every step of the way,” Robbie said.
Robbie continued, “We feel like we were in an episode of New Amsterdam. It was very dramatic and then had a happy ending,” Robbie said. “We feel like we were the recipients of a miracle.”
Daphne and Robbie are also thankful for their children and friends who provided so much support.
“That’s life, things change in an instant,” Robbie said. “We feel lucky, but more than that we feel loved.”
Daphne wants others to “just live your life” because you never know what will happen.
Disclaimer: Outcomes from stroke vary from person to person. No individual results should be seen as typical.