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Kent Brings - Don’t Hesitate…Make that Call!

(Kent and his family)

Imagine being woken by two doctors standing above you. What came next was even worse. “Do you have a DNR Mr. Brings?” I told them yes. The next thing I remember was opening my eyes and seeing my wife’s face. This was roughly 13 hours after making the second best decision of my life.

Last November 14th I was in Devens, Massachusetts for a meeting. I had flown in a couple days earlier from Atlanta. This business trip was basically the same type of trip I’d taken hundreds of times before. At the time I thought I was a healthy 61 year old. My blood pressure was normal, my weight was at the lower suggested end for my height, I walked 4 to 5 miles a day, ate my fruit and vegetables, and did all my own yardwork…everything I thought I should be doing.

That morning I got in the shower at 8:30 or so for a 10:00 meeting five minutes from my hotel. As I was rinsing the shampoo out of my hair I started feeling this buzzing sensation at the base of my skull. My first thought was “that’s weird, I’ve never felt that before.” Right then the pain started to wrap around my head from the point where the buzzing started. This wasn’t a headache. This was intense, something is definitely wrong pain. I turned off the shower immediately, dried off and started getting dressed. The day before this happened I received a Facebook post about the new, 4th tell for someone suffering a stroke. It said if you do one thing today, read this post and share. I very rarely share posts, but this time I did. Looking back, I’m grateful I did. The pain only intensified. It was a strange time to think of a Facebook post, but that was one of several thoughts that flashed through my mind. Before that post flashed, I honestly thought that if I laid down for a bit it might start subsiding.

No…it was time to commit. I called the front desk and asked them to call 911. Once I hung up I only remember three things from that point on. Being tossed around a little in the ambulance, being asked about my DNR and then seeing my wife. Apparently I finished getting dressed, grabbed my valuables and walked down to the lobby and waited outside for the ambulance. I don’t remember being air flighted to the second hospital, and I don’t remember speaking to my wife on the phone as they were rolling me into surgery.

My wife and five children were told that they best come to Boston now. My wife stayed in Boston for the duration. I really don’t remember the first two weeks in the hospital, but I remember my family being there. Our youngest (a 27 year old teacher) stayed with her for the first 16 days. The others stayed for a few days and flew back out when they could. I was fortunate to be in Boston when this happened. I was fortunate to be in the hospital I was in and very fortunate to have the doctors I did. One specialized in what happened to me. My subarachnoid hemorrhage was non-aneurismal. The bleeding was between my skull and the membrane covering my brain. My wife was told that I am a walking miracle. I am blessed to be alive and without residual issues, back working, playing golf and appreciating life more and not taking so much for granted.

The miracle that day was that I called for help. It was a commitment to call for help. I didn’t want to be the guy that seemed weak or scared. One that maybe reacted too quickly and should have waited a little bit to see if things improved. Had I laid down that day, I wouldn’t be here. Had I waited to call for help, I likely wouldn’t be here…I don’t know, but I don’t think so. Listen to your body. I have since told many to listen to their body, don’t hesitate to make that call. If 911 even briefly enters your thought process, make that call.

Making that call was the second best decision I ever made. It saved my life. The best decision…she stayed with me in Boston for the month that I was in the hospital. We get more time together.

My hemorrhage was in the stroke family but a little different. It was the post that got me thinking. The signs are more for someone to check another.

To Check for a Stroke:

Remember the first three letters of STROKE

  1. S – Ask the person to smile

  2. T – Ask the person to talk and speak a simple sentence

  3. R – Ask the person to raise both arms

  4. Stick out your tongue – If the person’s tongue is crooked or goes to one side or another

If the person has trouble with any one of these simple tasks, call 911 immediately.

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