Stroke Awareness Month holds new meaning for one Hattiesburg man

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Lance Stotler was in a meeting at work when he realized something was not right.

"I started having problems with my speech, annunciating my words, and I knew that was one of the potential signs of a stroke," said Stotler.

That's when he called long-time friend and Hattiesburg neurologist Dr. Kevin Cole for some advice.

"He just told me, 'Hang up the phone and dial 911.' I said, 'Well, I don't want to spend the expense of the ambulance.' 'Lance, hang up the phone, dial 911.'"

It's a good thing he did because when he got to the Forrest General emergency room, Dr. Scott Lynn advised him to try a treatment called tissue plasminogen activator, also known as tPA. But the trick is that it has to be given within three hours after the start of symptoms.

"My symptoms started, we figured, about 6:47," Stotler explained. "I got my medicine around 8:45, so I was under two hours. I was within the three hour range."

tPA is the only FDA-approved medication for the treatment of a stroke if it's given within that three hour period, which is why Forrest General urges everyone to "Act FAST" when recognizing the warning signs and symptoms of a stroke:

  • Face – Sudden weakness or numbness of the face
  • Arm – Sudden weakness or numbness on one side
  • Speech – Sudden inability to speak clearly
  • Time – What time did the symptoms start?

For Stotler, acting fast saved his life, and he's optimistic about his recovery thanks to the success of tPA.

"I think I'll make a full recovery over the whole situation," he said. "God was with us that day. God reached out His healing hand for us."

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