Your Healthy Family: Marty Gordon plays on despite massive strok - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Your Healthy Family: Marty Gordon plays on despite massive stroke

A stroke can be a devastating even deadly health emergency. A stroke can be a devastating even deadly health emergency.
Marty Gordon suffered a stroke in September 2016. (KOAA) Marty Gordon suffered a stroke in September 2016. (KOAA)

A stroke can be a devastating - even deadly - health emergency.  In order to have a positive outcome, everything needs to go right.  Symptoms need to be quickly recognized, acted on and treated.  Add in a procedure called an Intra-Arterial Thrombectomy that in southern Colorado is only available at UCHealth Memorial, and chances of a very positive outcome for certain types of stroke increase dramatically.    

Dr. Daniel Huddle spoke with News 5 about one of the first cases through Memorial’s door in October of 2016.  Dr. Huddle arrived at UCHealth Memorial in early September of 2016.  What followed was a lot of training that paid off when Marty Gordon suffered a stroke around the middle of October.    

Marty Gordon has played guitar for most of his life.  Marty says, "I was 13, I had a paper route and I bought my first guitar from Montgomery Wards, like so many did.  It was a $19 acoustic.  Playing just pushes your buttons, and makes you feel good, especially when people are dancing and having a good time."

When Marty’s health crisis arrived, it not only almost took his ability to play the guitar, but it could have taken his life.  

Marty recalls, “I started talking back, and I wasn't making any sense.  I just kept saying ‘I'm tired, I'm tired.’ ”

His wife Kathy, a nurse of 37 years, quickly recognized something was very wrong.  "I knew it was his diabetes, and that he had low blood sugar or that he was having a stroke.  Right away I went over to him and he slurred the words ‘I'm so tired’, so I ran and I called 911, and they were here with in 5 minutes.”

Marty admits Kathy is right about 99.99% of time, and is glad she went right into “nurse mode” because otherwise, he feels he may have just drifted off to sleep.  “Turns out I had a stroke and a heart attack. The scary thing to me about the whole thing is that I didn't have any pain, I didn't feel anything, I just was kind of sleepy.  Next thing I know I wake up in the hospital and I have hoses and tubes and machines on me."

So much happened in Marty's 'next thing I know' moments, and so many things went right for him, beginning with Kathy calling 911.  The Security paramedics were the next to quickly recognizing the signs of a stroke.

When the paramedics checked his blood sugar and it was normal, Kathy urged them, “I said you need to bring him to Memorial Hospital right now. He is having a stroke and that's when all the hustle-bustle started and they had him out of here in like 5 minutes flat.”

Dr. Daniel Huddle and Dr. Shaye Moskowitz who worked on Marty are a couple of the newest additions to a massive stroke team at UCHealth Memorial.  That team is made up of paramedics, the emergency department, neurologists, nurses techs and doctors.

Dr. Huddle says, “The adage that we use is ‘time is brain.’ so the sooner we can get a blood vessel open when we identify a clot the better.  Now we can do some advanced imaging that will tell us if the patient is a good candidate to go off to the Angio lab.  Many patients will benefit just from the clot-busting drug (tPA), but if they have a large enough clot they will benefit from us putting a catheter up inside the brain.”

Dr. Huddle explains that in Marty’s case, "If the clot were to stay there and we didn't open it up, you would potentially have a very large devastating stroke.  We go directly in the artery and up into the artery that is blocked inside the brain, so it's like pulling a cork out of a bottle.  We go inside the artery with catheters and various devices and try to extract that clot, as quickly as we can."

After removing the clot, the visual evidence of blood flow being restored to the entire brain is clearly visible, and Dr. Huddle said the team had a pretty good idea Marty would have a good recovery, but the actual proof came the next day in the intensive care unit.

Marty says, “My daughter brought in a ukulele; she couldn't bring in a guitar so she brought in my ukulele and I played one tune on that and I was pretty happy.”

Dr. Chamisa MacIndoe, a neuro Intensivist was keeping an eye on Marty in the Intensive Care Unit, when Marty began to play.  Kathy remembers the emotions that moment brought.  “When he started to play the ukulele, Dr. MacIndoe was outside the room, she heard the music coming out of the room and she started to cry.  She went to the nurses station and was telling the nurses and then she called Dr. Huddle, and said ‘you are not going to believe what he is doing. He is in bed in the ICU one day after having a stroke playing the ukulele’.  We all had tears in our eyes for various reasons.”

Marty knows that so many things went right for him.  The right people with the right training and abilities, including his wife Kathy, all knew exactly what to do and did it quickly.  Everyone did their job to the best of their abilities.  

Marty says the experience has changed his perspective on life.  "I appreciate the little things a lot more. I show it, I think, and I tell people that every morning first thing I do is open the window and look at Pikes Peak and i think ‘that's all right,’ and I take a deeper breath.”

Marty has been playing guitar with the West Side Rhythm Kings for the last 10 years and because of a very successful stroke treatment he plans to keep playing, as often as he can.

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