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home : columnists : columnists June 22, 2017

Ron Wilson speaks from the heart about his stroke

By Betsy Reason

On Valentine's Day, Ron Wilson served breakfast in bed, with a dozen roses, for his wife, Sharon, and a scenic drive before dinner at Red Lobster.

The holiday reserved for Valentines wasn't quite as enjoyable three years ago for Wilson.

On Feb. 14, 2014, he suffered a stroke that left him unable to communicate.

"I didn't realize what was going on," said Wilson, a 1964 Noblesville High School graduate and U.S. Navy veteran who served in the Vietnam War. "I couldn't make a pot of coffee because I could not keep track of how many scoops of coffee I had to use," he said.

One morning, Wilson went to the Post Office to mail some letters. "I somehow made it back home, not sure how, and the last thing I remembered, before waking up in St. Vincent Hospital, 'I'm going to hit the house,'" he said.

His five-minute trip to the Post Office had turned into 45 minutes, so his wife was standing in the doorway looking out, waiting on his return home. "My wife said I was coming down the driveway about 25 mph."

But luckily, the snow-plow driver that morning had piled all of the snow at the north end of the driveway, about 6 feet high, He said, "When I was coming down the drive, that's what stopped the car."

Wilson's family drove him to Riverview Hospital and was sent on to St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital. "It was there that I had two brain surgeries. My stroke caused a brain bleed," he said. Because his blood was so thin due to taking cold medication for a week for a headache he mistook for a sinus problem, he had to wait three days for surgery, he said.

After his first surgery, "I was dead as a door nail, both legs straight out, I was told a Code Blue was called...After I was revived, a second surgery was performed."

Three weeks later, he was transferred to Riverview for rehabilitation and speech therapy. "When I arrived, I couldn't walk, talk or stand up. Pouring myself a glass of water was impossible."

He went to rehab four times a day. Around the first of May 2014, he was released to outpatient rehab, and returned twice a day, three times a week.

Wilson now walks two miles a day and watches his diet. At age 71, he said, "I feel great."

He said, "Due to the great medical staff at St. Vincent and nurse Kathy for saving my life, and then all of the great pros in the Riverview Health Rehab Unit, I'm back to almost 90 percent in recovery."

He said, "Since 2014, I keep telling people, 'If you think you're having a problem, you are. Don't kid yourself.' Get to a doctor and find out what is going on....I also tell folks, 'Don't lie to your wife when they confront you,' and 'Remember, you're not 18 anymore.'"

He urges people to learn the signs of a heart attack and to learn about strokes. He hopes he can save a life by sharing his story.

Wilson said, "Be honest with yourself. Do it for your wife and kids."

-Contact me at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.

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