Surviving A Young Stroke

When Brandon Klinetobe woke up to take his wife to Edward Hospital for her scheduled C-section in 2009, little did he know he would also end up in surgery.

“I took a shower and took one step onto my master bedroom floor and I felt a pop in my ear and I just went numb. The whole right side of my body went tingling,” said Klinetobe.

At just 31-years-old, Brandon was suffering from a stroke. Instead of a trip to the maternity floor, he ended up in the emergency room.

“I couldn’t lift my arms or my legs, my smile was half crooked, It was a serial moment,” said Klinetobe.

Brandon suffered from a common heart deformity called Patent Foramen Ovale, or PFO, a hole in the heart walls that normally closes shortly after birth. In his case, those holes remained open, allowing a blood clot to travel from his heart to his brain.

“One of the arteries or a branch of one of the main arteries that supply blood to the brain or part of the brain gets blocked, and then that part of the brain that’s deriving it’s blood flow from that particularly blocked artery stops working, and very quickly the cells start to starve of oxygen and die,” said Dr. Ali Shaibani, Medical Director of the Neuroscience Institute.

The only way to fix his condition was to undergo surgery. But his insurance wouldn’t cover the $10,000 cost unless he had another stroke in the future.
So Brandon went home and waited, and three years later, that’s exactly what
happened.

“I lost vision in my right eye and I felt it all again, and I knew exactly what was happening,” said Klinetobe.

Another trip to Edward Hospital with his wife finally fixed his heart condition, decreasing his chances of having another stroke, something they never thought possible in the first place.

But according to Dr. Shaibani strokes are becoming more common in the earlier years of life. In fact 10% of strokes in those occur under the age of 45, but there’s a different reason behind them.

“When we see stroke in younger patient it’s often from a different mechanism than what we see in the elderly population,” said Dr. Shaibani. “Most of the causes of stroke in young people are dissection, which is a tear in the inner lining of the artery that can happen with certain physical exertion, that can happen with certain neck trauma, terrible coughing in some instances I’ve seen doing that.”

Luckily for Brandon and other young stroke survivors, their road to recovery is typically shorter than compared to their older counterparts. After two surgeries and some rehab, Brandon is now able to catch up on his life outside of the hospital, but not some thought about how quickly life can change.

“Yeah I’m worried, I still have issues with sleeping, but since then I’ve run a marathon, I’ve done two tough mudders, I’m active, I play with my kids, I don’t live in fear, it’s just in the back of my mind,” said Klinetobe.

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