5/31/17

Will Bill choose to be a couch potato or something else?

Bill Maynard battles back after a strokeBill Maynard credits his Carle coworkers with fast action and his family with never-ending support.

The Fisher 52-year-old had been a second-shift engineering mechanic at Carle for about four years when, on the job, he just didn’t feel like himself. Thankfully, his coworker did the right thing, getting Maynard quickly to the Emergency Department (ED) for what turned out to be a stroke.

“I felt loopy, and I felt scared. But I knew I was alive and in the best place I could be,” Maynard said.

Getting a stroke victim quickly to a primary stroke center like Carle is essential. To do that, it’s also essential to, know the signs of a stroke. Call 911 first for the best next steps. Then patients and families can put in the work to regain as many pre-stroke capabilities as possible.

While not always connected, heart conditions and strokes remain two of the biggest areas we can all focus on to prevent problems, identify issues early and make changes that make a difference. For important heart-health screenings at no cost, please stop by Carle’s convenient new educational event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, June 2 at Champaign’s Market Place Mall.

bill Maynard’s stroke story

The ED team quickly administered tPA, the clot-busting medication that often helps dramatically reduce a stroke’s long-term effects if administered less than four and a half hours after a stroke.

Next, Maynard spent six days in the Intensive Care Unit, mostly sleeping. Soon he began to understand the extent of the stroke’s initial effects. He wasn’t able to move his left side. He could speak, but his words were badly slurred.

Bill Maynard during his intense rehabilitation after a strokeThe team caring for him encouraged him.

“They kept telling me my speech and movement would come back. After the second or third week, I started to believe them,” Maynard said.

“Then I was able to move my left thumb. If I could get that back, I could get even more back.”

Therapy quickly became his new full-time job, advancing to the point Maynard could go home.

Adjusting at home

At his age, though, he never imagined shaving or trimming his own fingernails would be so hard.

“It would have been easier to just sit around and watch ‘Jerry Springer,’ but it’s better to fight through it—to keep trying to do things yourself. It’s part of the therapy,” he said.

One of the most amazing parts of Maynard’s recovery is the habits he dropped.

“I wasn’t taking care of myself. I was the poster child for bad habits, and it got me,” he said.

Now he’s working with his care team to manage his diabetes. The case of Dr. Pepper he used to down daily is no more.

And he stopped smoking two and a half packs of cigarettes a day.

“For Mr. Maynard, the stroke was a huge wake-up call,” said Neurology’s Uzoamaka Nwosu, DNP, FNP-BC. “We explained stroke risk factors to him and his wife and stressed the importance of working on the factors he could impact. He chose to work on his blood sugar, and he’s decreased his A1c. He also decided to quit smoking.

“That’s amazing, because a lot of people just tell us, ‘I’ll think about it.’ Mr. Maynard changed his habits, and he’s working hard. He’s willing to do the work.”

Positive impact

Following Maynard’s healthful lead, many of his coworkers stopped smoking or are trying hard to quit.

That helps Maynard focus even more on the future.

“We’re the same age, and many of us had the same habits,” he said. “I don’t want to see any of them have a stroke,” he said of Dennis Austin, Rod McCartney, Brad Turner, Dave Thornton, Ron Martin, Jeff VanLeer and Chris McKenzie, adding they’re more like brothers than coworkers.

“We’re always there for each other.”

Maynard says he no longer fits a common male stereotype: the guy who won’t go to the doctor unless it’s absolutely necessary.

“You’re free to do what you will, but remember, fate has a way of catching up with you,” he said.

That’s just some of the advice Maynard offers.

He also encourages people who have had a stroke to do their best to be patient, especially with their caregivers.

“They need support for the incredible support they give,” he said.

So much support

Bill Maynard granddaughtersMaynard insists he wouldn’t be where he is today without his care teams and his close-knit family. He and his wife, Deborah, recently celebrated their 11th anniversary. His nine children and 12 grandchildren live close by and pitch in as he needs them.

Stroke patients and their caregivers take classes at Carle to prepare everyone involved for the realities of life after a stroke.

“We talk about post-stroke depression and post-stroke fatigue,” Nwosu said.

“We want them to know what to expect after they leave the hospital. And we need them all to know that support—from family, friends and people at church—is important.”