GALLIPOLIS — Gallipolis resident Mike Brown, past city commissioner and area volunteer, after over a year of struggling with a health challenge, says he is determined to walk again.
He wishes to spread awareness of what has been called a rare medical condition as he seeks to overcome nerve damage in his attempts to walk unassisted again.
“It’s not been an easy road to hoe, I’ll tell you,” said Brown. “It’s been pretty rough…They (medical professionals) didn’t think I would live last year. They thought I wouldn’t be able to make it because I was really in bad shape. It all came as a total shock and surprise.”
Brown said he was getting ready to go out to eat and was preparing to bathe on Feb. 7, 2017, when “it hit me all the sudden.” He had tingling on his left side from his waist down and was on the floor and could not get up. He did not have his phone with him and he said it took him all night to get himself to the bottom of his steps, having been on the second floor, around 6 a.m. before he was able to reach someone for help.
“I called him and I said ‘Heath, I think I’ve had a stroke,’” said Brown.
Brown lauded Vinton Baptist Pastor Heath Jenkins as a supporter and friend throughout the process of his medical recovery.
Doctors identified Brown as having suffered a spinal cord infarcation. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke’s website, “Spinal cord infarction is a stroke either within the spinal cord or the arteries that supply it. It is caused by arteriosclerosis or a thickening or closing of the major arteries to the spinal cord. Frequently spinal cord infarction is caused by a specific form of arteriosclerosis called atheromatosis, in which a deposit or accumulation of lipid-containing matter forms within the arteries. Symptoms, which generally appear within minutes or a few hours of the infarction, may include intermittent sharp or burning back pain, aching pain down through the legs, weakness in the legs, paralysis, loss of deep tendon reflexes, loss of pain and temperature sensation, and incontinence.” Mike’s stroke occurred through the T-10 through T-3 parts of his vertebrae.
Since that time, Brown visited Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus for nearly two weeks then he came home and he spent time in rehabilitation with Holzer Health System. before undergoing care at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, a research and specialty rehabilitation hospital. Brown said he understood the institute to be the number place for spinal cord injuries in the country for 26 years.
Brown underwent heart surgery at one point in his care as he said after the spinal infarction it was common for an “aorta to dissect from a heart” and it needed to be reattached.
“I’ve what you’ve called, beat the odds, I think,” said Brown. “I am determined to beat this. I’ve beat the odds already.”
He returned home from Chicago in May and is still undergoing treatment but fully intends to walk again.
“It’s going to take something,” said Brown. “But I’m determined to walk again.”
Treatment for spinal infarcation can consist of occupational and physical therapy.
According to strokecenter.org. “Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States. More than 140,000 people die each year from stroke in the United States. Stroke is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States. Each year, approximately 795,000 people suffer a stroke. About 600,000 of these are first attacks and 185,000 are recurrent attacks. Nearly three-quarters of all strokes occur in people over the age of 65. The risk of having any stroke more than doubles each decade after the age of 55. Strokes can and do occur at any age. nearly one fourth of strokes occur in people under the age of 65…On average, someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds. Stroke accounted for about one of every 17 deaths in the United States in 2006. Stroke Mortality for 2005 was 137,000.”
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.