Patient:  Mary Easterling

“A Killer Headache”

A stroke occurs when an area of the brain is deprived of oxygen. Common causes are blood clots or ruptures in the vessel walls that feed the brain tissue. The warning signs of a stroke include sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arms or legs. They also include sudden trouble seeing, sudden trouble walking or a sudden severe headache.

Mary Easterling found herself driving to work when one of the symptoms hit, a severe headache. Easterling’s headache turned out to be an aneurism or rupture in a vessel wall of her brain. The rupture could have easily killed her but the rapid response of St. Dominic’s stroke center team saved her life. Now Easterling is living a happy healthy life, one in which she can enjoy her favorite pastime, playing with her grandchildren.

How It All Began

“One morning I was driving to work and all of a sudden I got this real bad headache,” Easterling said. The headache was so severe that Easterling tried to pull over and then blacked out. The next few hours were a blur. Easterling remembers an ambulance took her to St. Dominic’s and she remembers people asking her questions. Through it all an image of her family kept coming to her and seemed to carry her through the trauma.

“When Mary arrived she was a death’s doorstep,” said Dr. Scott McPherson, Interventional Radiologist. “She had bled into her brain from a ruptured aneurism.”

The Turning Point

“We were able to quickly diagnose (the aneurism) and got her to our angio suite,” Dr. McPherson said. Dr. McPherson and his team were able to quickly stop the bleeding and repair the damage to the vessel wall. The entire procedure was completed through a small incision in an vessel wall. Soon Easterling was awake in the ICU.

Recovery and Life After Open Heart Surgery

Tiamariya Easterling, Mary’s daughter was understandably upset and anxious when she found out about her mother’s aneurism. She was completely surprised when she found out how well the procedure went and that her mother was likely to make a full recovery.

“I just went numb because you don’t think of brain surgery and success stories,” Tiamariya Easterling said. “They got in there and they did the surgery and I have my mom.”

More About Mary

Who was your primary doctor during treatment at St. Dominic’s Hospital?
Scott McPherson, M.D.