May is National Stroke Awareness Month

  • Statistics show that a stroke will kill about 140,000 Americans each year.
  • In 2006, Mandy Martin was almost one of those 140,000. But now, 13 years later, she works in the Environmental Services Department at Lawrence County Memorial Hospital.
  • Martin says that it is her duty to tell her story so others might not find themselves in the same situation.
  • Martin was a newly high school graduate, working hard at Olney Central College when she started to feel ill during the beginning of flu season. Eventually it got so bad that she had to quit school.
  • Not only was she suffering from flu-like symptoms, but she had a tremendous pain in her shoulder.
  • After blood work, an Emergency Room visit, finally an MRI revealed a cyst, the size of a softball, under Martin’s right shoulder blade.
  • Even after surgery to remove the cyst, Martin wasn’t getting better. The cyst was found to be filled with MRSA and SEPSIS.
  • “It was attacking my body and killing my organs and my lungs were filling up with fluid,” Martin said. All the while she was having tiny strokes, although not all of them were diagnosed.
  • Martin ended up at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Indianapolis where she stayed for six-weeks. She was given a 10 percent chance to survive, and the end result could be she would be classified as a ‘vegetable.’
  • An experimental drug, which at the time was still being tested, in part led to Martin’s recovery.
    “It worked,” Martin said. “Things were getting better.”
  • Late in the fall, Martin was improving and beginning to look like herself again. But there was a lot of hard work ahead including occupational, physical and speech therapy.
  • Martin still remembers the date — Nov. 7, 2006 — that she was discharged. On her way out, she high-fived an entire unit of doctors, nurses, therapists and aides. “The only words I could say was ‘Thank you all,’” she said.
  • Martin plans to return to school and wants to take classes “a little at a time” and earn a
    business degree. In the meantime, she’s on a mission to spread the work about stroke prevention.
  • “People can overcome a lot. I’m proof of that,” she said. “But people need to act quickly if they’re having any sign of a stroke. They need to get to a doctor, right away.”
  • Lawrence County Memorial Hospital CEO Don Robbins says that Martin, who has worked there for going on a year, has been “an inspiration. I’m glad she’s here and willing to share her story,” Robbins said. “I know her goal is to get people to where they don’t ignore the symptoms of a stroke. At the end of the day, that’s what she’s all about.”
  • For more information on National Stroke Awareness Month, click here or call Lawrence County Memorial Hospital at (618) 943-1000.