College student shares his journey to recovery after a stroke

Tamir Y. Hersonskey, MD, Neurosurgeon at Ascension Saint Joseph Joliet in Joliet, IL, performs life saving craniectomy on a young stroke survivor.

Conner Nash, a now 26-year-old stroke survivor, was a college student at Western Illinois University (WIU) and a member of the Army National Guard. Thanks to the critical care teams at Ascension Saint Joseph - Joliet in Joliet, Illinois, Conner is getting back to doing the things he enjoys and can get back into his new routine. 

On May 13th, 2022, Conner had just finished up his junior year of college at Western Illinois University and headed home to Plainfield, IL for the summer. After a stressful semester and a weekend of guard duty ahead, he was showing average signs of being a tired college student with a job. The following week, he continued to sleep day after day and by that Thursday (May 19th, 2022) Conner’s mother said it was time to get up. Conner's mother immediately noticed that he was acting unusual and when he went to stand up his entire right side gave out, and he was unable to stand up. She called 911 and paramedics rushed him to Saint Joseph - Joliet emergency room.

Conner was immediately taken for a CT scan. The images showed that he had suffered an ischemic stroke that occurred over 12 hours prior. An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery leading to the brain, in Conner's case, the carotid artery, according to Tamir Y. Hersonskey, MD, an experienced neurosurgeon at Ascension Illinois in Joliet, IL. Conner had lost his ability to speak which is another sign of stroke. 

The next five days Conner’s brain fluid and the pressure was monitored to try to avoid surgery. The following Tuesday Conner’s health took a turn, his blood pressure shot up and his eyes became unresponsive. Dr. Hersonskey then rushed Conner into surgery where he had no option other than to perform a craniectomy, which consisted of removing a portion of the skull to ease pressure on the brain. 

After Conner’s craniectomy on May 24, he spent a week and a half at Ascension Saint Joseph - Joliet to recover. The road to recovery was going to be a long one, but Conner and his support system remained positive. For the next few months, Conner was required to wear a helmet to protect his head until the swelling went down enough for the portion of the skull that was removed to be put back in. 

On June 3, 2022, Conner was released to an inpatient facility. Conner spent seven weeks working to regain the ability to walk, talk, read and write. By September 2022, Conner’s swelling had gone down enough for his cranioplasty, the procedure consisted of replacing the piece of skull that was removed during his craniectomy with the original bone. Conner’s procedures have left him with what he refers to as “a pretty cool scar.” 

Two years later, Conner is progressing every day. He is getting back into his routine of hanging out with friends and starting to drive again, and he has plans to return to finish his college degree. Conner himself believes that his reason for success throughout his journey has been that he chose to not be angry with his circumstances, instead, he was positive and determined. Conner and his family expressed how much they appreciated the care they received, “People often complain about a hospital or doctor's office, but we had nothing but great things to say about them, they were just all amazing.” 

Advanced stroke care in Chicagoland

Ascension Illinois stroke centers and emergency rooms in Chicagoland provide advanced stroke care 24/7. Our hospitals across greater Chicagoland have earned the designation Comprehensive Stroke Center or Primary Stroke Center. Learn more about getting stroke care close to home at

If you or a loved one is experiencing warning signs of a stroke such as numbness, confusion, trouble speaking, dizziness or loss of balance, every second counts. It's important to call 911 and go to the nearest emergency room right away.