There’s no folding in this game
Jeff Furler credits faith and a healthy lifestyle for his miraculous recovery after suffering a stroke.
Jeff Furler retired on March 1, 2014, after 39 years with State Farm as a business analyst. The active and health-conscious 62-year-old was looking forward to playing a lot of golf and tennis, as well as bridge—his new passion.
Just a month and a half into retirement, Jeff dropped off his grandchildren at day care one morning and headed to the First Christian Church in Bloomington to play his favorite card game. In the midst of a game, he suddenly felt someone rubbing his shoulders and asking if he was okay. As he heard someone else ask if anyone had called 911, he realized he had blacked out. Jeff declined transport to the hospital when the paramedics arrived—until they told him he was exhibiting classic signs of a stroke, including left-side weakness and numbness.
By the time Jeff arrived at the emergency department at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center, his symptoms had resolved. There he underwent the normal stroke protocol—consisting of a series of imaging scans—which detected a clot in his right middle cerebral artery caused by an irregular heartbeat he didn’t know he had.
“Jeff’s collateral circulation took over and re-routed the blood to the brain to continue to perfuse the vital components,” explains Kristin Peterson, manager of progressive care and stroke coordinator at BroMenn Medical Center. “If he had not sought treatment, his outcome would have been very different.”
When the tests determined there was salvageable brain tissue, neurointerventional radiologist Dr. Ajeet Gordhan was called to take Jeff into the intervention lab. By threading a catheter from Jeff’s groin into his brain, Dr. Gordhan was able to suction and remove the clot.
“When the team took me in, I asked them to say a prayer if things weren’t going well,” remembers Jeff. “Afterward, the doctor told me I must have a good relationship with God because it was a tricky procedure and they had to go up a second time to get the clot. That success was a testament to Advocate, the doctors, the staff, my health and all the people who were praying for me and my family.”
“I am so thankful.”
Jeff walked out of the hospital just two days later. The day after discharge, he returned to his bridge group—much to the surprise and excitement of his fellow players. Though Jeff did not suffer any cognitive deficits, he was frustrated by some minor motor skills issues that affected his coordination—and his golf game. Despite any challenges, he maintained his sense of humor and positive spirit throughout recovery. He has since undergone treatment for his heart issues, and he’s building up his stamina to return to running and exercising at the level he was prior to his stroke.
“I was in the right place at the right time, and everyone did their job,” says Jeff. “I thank God often for blessing me and seeing me through this experience. I feel like I should be on my knees every day thanking Him for allowing me to recover as I have.”