Prude Death Investigation

Survival, not fear: Stroke survivor urges people with health issues to go to hospital despite COVID

Coronavirus

WEBSTER, N.Y. (WROC) — While some people may be hesitant to go to the hospital during a pandemic, a Webster woman is urging anyone with a medical issue to just go. She said not to wait if you think there’s something wrong with you just because you’re afraid of COVID-19.

July 9 started off like a normal day for Mary Helen Collins. She was in her bedroom around 3:00 p.m. when she suddenly felt weak. Collins stood up, collapsed, and couldn’t get back up.

“The entire right side of my body wouldn’t move with me and then something inside me told me to talk out loud and when I tried to talk out loud my speech was completely slurred and I said, ‘you’re having a stroke,'” Collins said.

Luckily, she was holding her phone and was able to call 911. Her dog, Buster, stayed by her side until the paramedics arrived.

“I was screaming ‘help me, help me,’ I was on the phone with 911. They ended up having to break the door down with an axe.”

The doctors at Rochester General Hospital told Collins she had a huge blood clot in her brain. Dr. Taka Higashimori explained how important it was for him to operate immediately.

“I just looked up and him and said, ‘are you any good at this?’ I don’t know why I said it but I did and he smiled and the team kind of smiled and laughed he said, ‘I’m good,'” Collins said.

“We were able to open up her brain vessel and restore her flow to the brain and basically reverse her stroke symptoms,” said Dr. Higashimori.

The procedure was successful and Collins was released five days later. Collins has an irregular heartbeat and is now on blood thinners to ensure this won’t happen again.

Dr. Higashimori said he’s heard people express concern about going to the hospital during COVID-19, and some end up waiting. Collins said for her, waiting wasn’t an option.

“Be in control of what you can be in control of when your body is telling you something is wrong. COVID or no COVID. Do not lose your life over fear of something you can’t control. Do what you can, go,” Collins said.

July 9 wasn’t a normal day for Mary Helen Collins. But because of that 911 call, it wasn’t her last.

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