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Published on June 14, 2021

Bryan Health Cares for Lincoln Woman Who Suffered Stroke on Zoom

Ann Tillery,a Lincoln resident, University of Nebraska Foundation employee and Ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Association watched herself suffer a stroke on Zoom and is sharing her story to raise awareness.

On May 18, Ann was attending a virtual session of the AIM (Alzheimer’s Impact Movement) Advocacy Forum conducted by the Alzheimer’s Association. She had three Zoom meetings scheduled with the offices of Senator Ben Sasse, Senator Deb Fischer and Representative Jeff Fortenberry.

During her third and final Zoom meeting with Representative Fortenberry’s office, Ann noticed something wasn’t right. While speaking during her presentation, she felt her face droop, speech become slurred and left arm heavy. She could see her own video screen and knew exactly what was happening. She was watching herself have a stroke.   

Instincts Kicked In 

Ann quickly wrapped her presentation, instinctively grabbed her cell phone and tried to stand up. However, she fell to the ground. In a conference room by herself, she yelled for help but no one heard because the door was closed and limited staff were in the office because of the pandemic.

Ann dialed 911. The operator contacted the receptionist in her office and within seconds, the door opened and co-workers came in to help. An ambulance arrived minutes later and she was transported to Bryan West Campus. Ann had no use of her entire left side and her blood pressure was over 220.

Ann suffered a hemorrhagic stroke. A blood vessel ruptured in her brain and caused spontaneous bleeding. She was treated in the emergency room at Bryan West Campus and taken to intensive care.

“Time is tissue, and that means brain tissue,” said Dr. Quinn Willet, hospitalist. “The sooner you get to us, the sooner we can fix it and see specialists to start recovering.”

Hard Work, Amazing Recovery

After a multi-day stay in the ICU, Ann went to inpatient rehab where she worked vigorously with occupational, physical and speech therapists to regain her function. She was discharged after 11 days and attended the Cattlemen’s Ball in her hometown of Columbus, her goal at the beginning of her rehab journey.

“It’s amazing to see the recovery she’s had in such a short amount of time,” said Stacey Bostwick, occupational therapist and Alyssa Cook, speech therapist. “Ann was such a willing patient. She worked hard and wanted to be pushed. That is why she was able to have such a great outcome.”

Ann will pursue outpatient rehab at Bryan to continue to increase her function. She is speaking out to raise awareness for the signs and symptoms of stroke and what to do if a medical emergency happens on a virtual platform.

“In this new world of virtual meetings, we need to look out for one another,” Tillery said. “We need to make sure we are safe.”

The acronym, FAST, is used by the National Stroke Association and National Heart Association to realize the signs of stroke:

    • F – Face: drooping or numbness one on side of the face

    • A – Arms: one arm being weaker or more numb than the other

    • S – Speech: speech slurred, unable to speak or hard to understand

    • T – Time: time is brain, call 911 immediately to receive medical care

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