Kathleen’s story: Stronger every day after stroke

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

By: Alysha Schertz

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It was February 2017. It was snowing, and Kathleen Slattery had just left work.


“I was driving down Ashland when I felt something pop in my lower back,” she says. “I couldn’t move.”


Kathleen knew she wasn’t going to make it home, so she pulled over to the frontage road. It was hours before the police found her, she says.


She was in and out of consciousness and unable to call 911. When police finally arrived, an ambulance took her to Aurora BayCare Medical Center.


Kathleen, who is in her 60s, had suffered a hemorrhagic stroke. That’s related to a ruptured brain aneurysm, says Dr. Ziad Darkhabani, an interventional neurologist at Aurora BayCare Medical Center.


Doctors performed a minimally invasive procedure known as endovascular coiling to stop Kathleen’s aneurysm from bleeding.


“Endovascular therapy is basically treating the brain aneurysm or any lesion in the brain using catheters,” Darkhabani says. “We try to treat the aneurysm from within the vessel itself. We go inside the aneurysm and we cap the aneurysm or stuff it with metal. We call this coiling.”


After nearly three weeks in the hospital, Kathleen was released.


“I started physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy immediately,” she said.


While Kathleen’s speech was relatively unaffected, she did become fatigued much faster than she did previously.


In August 2017, Kathleen went in for a routine checkup. Darkhabani discovered the aneurysm had grown. He placed a stent to hold the coils in place to completely secure the aneurysm.


Today, Kathleen is mostly back to her active lifestyle. She lives near Escanaba, Mich., and gets stronger every day. While she doesn’t quite have the stamina she used to, she has enrolled in fitness classes and is back to mowing her lawn and working on her property.


She credits Darkhabani and his team for saving her life.


“They didn’t just care for my ailment,” she says. “They looked at all aspects of me as a person. The hope everybody had, and the teamwork, was phenomenal. It gave me hope. I just keep going back to that. When you have all these people rooting for you how do you let them down? I knew I had to do my part.”


“She’s a strong lady,” Darkhabani says, “She really fought hard and she definitely made a good recovery.”


Dr. Ziad Darkhabani sees patients in Green Bay and Oshkosh. For information, or to request an appointment, call 920-288-8044 or 855-819-9935. You can also request an appointment online.

Aurora BayCare stroke patient

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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.