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When Jay Truesdell suffered a stroke in 2019, he was in the right place at the right time. A former physical therapist assistant, Jay had just arrived for his shift at Fairfield Medical Center when he decided to stop in the cafeteria for breakfast. While standing at the cash register, he began to experience a sharp pain in his head. Other symptoms, such as fatigue, weakness in his left arm and confusion, soon followed. “I remember I was trying to text my brother a happy birthday message and I couldn’t figure out how to type the words,” Jay said.

It didn’t immediately occur to Jay that he was having a stroke. All he knew was that he needed help – fast. Fortunately, he managed to catch the eye of his department manager, Kathy Armentrout, as she was walking past. “Jay waved at me and when I went over to him, he said, ‘I have a problem,’ Kathy recalled. “His speech was odd, and I could see he was having trouble maneuvering his cell phone. When I put those two things together, it occurred to me that he was having a stroke.”

Kathy immediately walked Jay down to the Emergency Department. Less than an hour later, he was in a helicopter en route to the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. The staff at FMC had quickly determined that Jay was experiencing an ischemic stroke. Before Jay was transported to Columbus, he was administered a clot-busting medication called tPA, which restores blood flow to the brain.

Jay was hospitalized for a week, then completed six weeks of rehab. He has made great strides in his recovery but continues to experience lingering side effects from the stroke, including limited function in his arm and leg. He uses a cane to walk and battles short-term memory loss and neuro fatigue, which leaves him feeling tired throughout the day.

Jay said having worked with stroke patients during his time as a physical therapist, he knew how debilitating a stroke could be and never wanted to experience one himself. As a result, he worked hard to live a healthy lifestyle and stay active through his favorite hobby – cycling. When he was diagnosed with Afib, which is one of the risk factors for stroke, he underwent the cryoablation procedure at FMC to correct the issue. “My blood pressure was good, and I had recently lost 10 pounds through a weight loss challenge at work,” Jay said. “I’d had a doctor’s visit two days prior to the stroke, and everything was good.”

He said he’s incredibly grateful that Kathy crossed his path on the day he experienced his stroke. Her quick recognition of his symptoms led to him getting the time-sensitive medical intervention he needed to stop the stroke and prevent further damage.

“Jay was a young man, he was healthy, a cyclist, was doing everything right,” Kathy said. “However, a stroke can happen to anyone at any time. It’s important that everyone know the signs and symptoms and not wait to seek medical attention.”