Chain of events contribute to stroke survival


Peter Simonson said the quick actions of many set off a chain of events that contributed to his successful stroke outcome. Without each of those timely interventions, he doesn’t think he would be alive to share his story.

Peter, 60, started exhibiting symptoms of a stroke while stretching before a workout at CrossFit Orange Beach in Alabama. "I remember I lost my balance and fell over," he said. "I felt a bit embarrassed. It was 5:30 in the morning, so I thought I was just being clumsy."

The owner, John Tanner, extended his hand to help Peter get to his feet. When Peter couldn't move his left arm, John knew there was something more serious going on because a stroke warning sign is weakness on one side of the body.

Time is of the essence when it comes to stroke care and many stepped in to help Peter receive the prompt medical attention he needed. Sixty seconds after Peter fell, a gym member called 911. Ten minutes later, an air ambulance landed on a soccer field 100 yards from the gym and transported Peter to Ascension Sacred Heart Pensacola's Comprehensive Stroke Center, the highest level of certification for hospitals with specific abilities to diagnose and treat the most complex stroke cases.

Critical care neurologist Dr. Terry Neill used RAPID advanced imaging technology to analyze Peter's CT brain scans and pinpointed the exact location of his clot in 30 seconds. Within 30 minutes, neurosurgeon Dr. Maria Toledo performed a thrombectomy, a procedure that routed a tiny mesh tube through a catheter in the groin to extract the blood clot blocking the blood vessel in the brain. With blood flow restored, Peter was able to regain movement to the left side of his body.

Several months later, Peter is still amazed at how all the pieces fell into place. "I'm here because everyone did the right thing. Instead of spending my summer at rehab recovering from a stroke, I've spent them with my children at the pool. I'm beyond grateful for this second chance."

Peter is back to working out at CrossFit Orange Beach. One month after his stroke, he completed a gruelling workout that consisted of running one mile, followed by 100 pullups, 200 pushups, and 300 unweighted squats, followed by another one-mile run.