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Pat Simpson shares how Hillcrest has helped her through her stroke journey

Stroke signs can be difficult to self-diagnose for any individual.

Claremore resident Pat Simpson needed a newspaper story to expose her underlying health scare.

In late January 2020, Simpson returned home after an evening out.

“I usually just go back and watch my TV,” Simpson said of her typical routine.

But on this evening, she grabbed a newspaper article that had previously caught her attention and began to read out loud. Her husband, a former nurse himself, immediately noticed something wrong.

“I read the first line to him and he said, ‘You need to go to the emergency room,’” Simpson said. “I said, ‘Why would I go the emergency room?’”

Simpson continued to speak to her husband and he once again instructed her to go to the hospital. Because her husband was incapacitated, Simpson drove herself to the Hillcrest Hospital Claremore emergency room. Simpson called her son, Mike, who remained on the phone with his mother until she arrived at the hospital after he noticed a substantial difference in her speech.

“My speech was so bad, he thought something was wrong with my phone,” Simpson said.

After arriving to the ER, Simpson tried to explain her situation before being taken back for examination and tests.

“I was talking the whole time, but I never knew if they understood anything,” she said.

Mike, who rushed over to Hillcrest Claremore, transported his mother to Hillcrest Medical Center (HMC) in Tulsa where it was discovered a narrowing in one of the arteries in her brain had triggered the stroke.

Amy Clark, APRN-CNP, of Utica Park Clinic, first saw Simpson following her discharge in February 2020.

“When she first started, her speech issues were pretty profound,” said Clark, who added Simpson struggled to repeat simple phrases or, in some cases, single words.

Thanks to her work with Clark during the rehabilitation process, Simpson’s progress has been nothing short of remarkable. She now carries on long conversations with ease.

“Talking with her now, you would never know she has had a stroke,” Clark said.

Simpson attributes part of her success to the work, encouragement and patient care she received from Clark and others from Hillcrest.

“Amy has been great,” Simpson said. “She’s very patient. She doesn’t rush.”

Simpson’s slurred speech is one of the common symptoms of stroke, along with facial droop or numbness. Clark said lesser-known symptoms like speech comprehension or problems with balance and coordination can also be warning signs of the medical emergency.

May is National Stroke Awareness Month. If you or a loved one experience sudden signs of a stroke, call 911 immediately and ask to be taken to a Hillcrest-certified stroke center, located at HMC and Hillcrest South. Visit oklahomastroke.com for more life-saving information.