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Felix Quintero

  • Author: Felix Quintero
  • Date Submitted: Jul 19, 2018
  • Category: Stroke

Feb. 13, 2018, is a day that Felix Quintero will not soon forget. It was the day he had a stroke at age 36.

“I was scared, confused and everything else,” said Felix, whose life erupted in chaos shortly after 4 a.m. when he woke up, took a step to get ready for work and fell.

“My whole left side was numb. I had no strength, and I couldn’t move. My wife tried to pick me up, but she couldn’t get me back on the bed. I knew right away it was something bad,” Felix said.

Felix will never forget the sights and sounds from that day. The fire alarm was blaring – his wife Mayra had set it off to help paramedics find their new house, which was not on Google Maps yet. The piercing sound woke Felix’s 9-year-old son Ryan, who ran into the master bedroom and found his stepfather lying helpless on the floor. Felix watched the panic spread across the faces of his wife and son.

“I went from feeling fine one day to having my body go unresponsive the next,” he said.

While it may seem unusual that someone so young would have a stroke, they can occur at any age. A recent study in JAMA Neurology, a monthly medical journal published by the American Medical Association, found that hospitalization rates for the most common type of stroke, where a clot blocks blood from flowing to the brain, are increasing for both men and women under age 45.

When people come to Kaweah Health with stroke-like symptoms – facial drooping, speech difficulties, muscle weakness on one side of the body – the team is ready to care for them, said Cheryl Smit, Kaweah Health’s Stroke Program Manager. “It is all about the patient, so we are doing everything we can to give them the best chance of survival and reduce their chance of disability,” Cheryl said.

That is what doctors and nurses did for Felix. Although stroke is the No. 5 cause of death in the U.S., killing nearly 130,000 people a year, Felix was not a casualty although he suffered the most common type of stroke. After a three-day stay at Kaweah Health Medical Center, Felix was transferred to Kaweah Health Rehabilitation Hospital because he needed to regain more strength before he could return home. He remained under the watchful eye of doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and other staff members for two weeks, regaining use of his arms and his ability to walk with the help of a cane. While Felix is still in physical therapy, he is expected to make a full recovery.

“I thank God that I was lucky. Some people die; some people have paralysis for a long time; some aren’t able to talk or move at all,” he said.

Prior to having a stroke, Felix thought that at 5 feet 11 inches tall and 264 pounds, he was relatively healthy, but needed to improve in a few areas. But at Kaweah Health, doctors told Felix that high blood pressure, high cholesterol and his recent diagnosis of sleep apnea had taken a toll on his body.

“Many of us take life for granted until something like this happens,” said Felix, who since his stroke has lost 15 pounds and plans to lose another 20. “This helped me look at life differently, especially when it comes to taking care of my health. I see life from a different perspective, and I pay more attention to my family, which is the most important thing in my life.”