Donna’s story: Surviving two strokes

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

By: Femi Cole

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A persistent husband and the quick actions of an Aurora BayCare interventional neurologist helped Donna Detrie beat the odds after she had two strokes.


Donna, who is 63, went to work on that summer morning as if it were any other Wednesday. Except it was anything but an ordinary day.


She told her husband, Dave, that she felt dizzy while working. Dave urged Donna to go to the hospital, but she was persistent, slightly stubborn, and kept working her eight-hour shift.


Donna went to bed that night not feeling well. She woke up the next day feeling the same. Dave put his foot down and took her to a hospital. Doctors reported unexpected news.


Though she wasn’t aware of it at the time, Donna had experienced a small stroke.


Donna is one of 11 million Americans every year who have a stroke but never detect it. The lack of obvious symptoms kept Donna from realizing what was happening. These often are called “silent strokes” because they do not cause classic stroke symptoms.  


She was released from the hospital on Friday. A day later, Donna still wasn’t feeling quite right. She was told this was normal.


But by Sunday, Donna still didn’t feel well. She went back to the hospital.


That’s when it hit.


Donna had a major stroke.


Recurrent strokes make up about 25 percent of the nearly 800,000 strokes in the United States each year. A recurrent stroke more than doubles a person’s risk of dying.


Dave said doctors called their stroke team into the emergency room but were unable to handle the situation.



An ambulance rushed Donna to Aurora BayCare Medical Center in Green Bay. There, Dr. Ziad Darkhabani “worked his magic,” Dave says.


Darkhabani debated whether to use a clot-busting drug or to begin surgery. Donna’s condition was worse than anticipated, and Darkhabani had no choice but to do surgery.


After her successful surgery, Donna worked with Aurora BayCare Medical Center while doing therapy. Dave noted an initial physical delay after Donna’s stroke, but her cognitive skills and speech were fine. She continues to work to get her strength back to where it once was.


Dave and Donna said they’d highly recommend Aurora BayCare Medical Center to others.


“The staff really cares about the patient. You can see it. We appreciate that,” Dave says.


Dr. Ziad Darkhabani sees patients in Green Bay and Oshkosh. For appointments, call 855-819-9935 or request one online.


See a stroke? Act F.A.S.T


If you’re ever in the same situation, it’s important to know the symptoms of a stroke and take immediate action if you see them. The American Stroke Association suggests you remember the acronym “F.A.S.T.”


F: Face drooping. Look to see whether one side of the face droops or is numb. When you smile, is it lopsided?


A: Arm weakness. Check to see whether you can raise both of your arms and look to see if one arm drifts downward.


S: Speech difficulty. If speech becomes slurred, see whether you can repeat a simple sentence.


T: Time to call 911. If someone is experiencing any of these symptoms, call 911, even if the symptoms have gone away. Time is crucial when dealing with a stroke.


Other signs such as confusion, trouble seeing, dizziness, and headaches also may appear.

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BayCare Clinic,, is the largest physician-owned specialty-care clinic in northeastern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. BayCare Clinic offers expertise in more than 20 specialties, with more than 100 physicians serving in 16 area communities. BayCare Clinic is a joint partner in Aurora BayCare Medical Center, a 167-bed, full-service hospital. Follow BayCare Clinic on Facebook and Twitter.