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Jennie's Story

Stroke Care
“I owe so much to all my physicians and how dedicated and smart they are. They work endlessly and have devoted their entire lives to their work. I’m so thankful people are able and willing to do that.”

Patient has advantage on the court and off

It was a beautiful August day when Jennie Kalpin, a 43-year old St. Cloud resident, and her sister were playing in an outdoor tennis league.

“We were a few games into the first set when I hit the ball,” Jennie said. “The next thing I knew, the ball was in the net and racquet on the ground. I tried three times but couldn’t pick it up. I sat down to try and figure out what was wrong when I realized I couldn’t move my right side — at all. Then suddenly I fell over on the court.”

Jennie’s sister came running over along with a player from another court who happened to be a nurse.

“She was asking me questions, but I couldn’t get much of anything out,” Jennie said. “I was completely aware but couldn’t communicate at all. They knew I was having a stroke and called 911 right away.”

When Jennie got to the hospital, she saw a stroke physician through telestroke technology to help her get treatment quickly. “I remember getting assessed and seeing the doctor on the screen,” she said. “The next thing I knew, I was saying goodbye to family; I knew I was going to surgery.”

Jennie received a clot busting medication and was then whisked into the operating room for a thrombectomy — a catheter-based interventional procedure to remove a clot in an artery or vein. The procedure typically lasts 30 minutes. When Jennie woke up, she met Interventional Stroke Neurologist M. Fareed Suri, MBBS, and his team.

When Jennie arrived at the hospital, she scored a 23 on the stroke scale which reflects deficit severity. A day and a half later, she was discharged at zero.

“If a patient with a score of 23 does not recover from this deficit, then unfortunately the expected outcome is severe disability requiring a two-person assist for transfer, inability to communicate or understand language, wheel-chair bound, assistance required for all daily activities and possibly feeding tube placement,” said Dr. Suri. “Of those patients treated with thrombectomy, only 10-15 percent have no disability three months after their stroke. Complete recovery within a day or two is uncommon.”

woman playing tennisGetting to St. Cloud Hospital quickly allowed Jennie to receive treatment faster, thus minimizing disability and long-term effects. Her treatment (alteplase medication and thrombectomy procedure) was delivered in nearly half the time of the recommended national average.

Jennie, a dentist in town with her own practice, expressed how lucky she feels. “If I lost any of my function, I would have lost my job, my career. I had the stroke on Tuesday, got out of the hospital on Thursday and by the next week was back at work part time. If I wasn’t on the court with all those people around that day, I might have been alone at home or at work which would have surely changed my outcome. It is so incredible that this major stroke was such a blip in time. It has been hard to absorb just how serious it was. I owe so much to all my physicians and how dedicated and smart they are. They work endlessly and have devoted their entire lives to their work. I’m so thankful people are able and willing to do that.”

Jennie, who still plays tennis, says, “I’m one incredibly lucky person. And I have many, many people to thank for it.”