After experiencing a stroke at the age of 34, Stephanie Brezina has been comforted and inspired by both her family and a lifelong friend, CHRISTUS Spohn Stroke Coordinator, Amber Blimline.
March 29, 2014, started out like any other day for Stephanie Brezina. The mother and kindergarten teacher woke up, got dressed and headed to the ball field to watch her 8-year-old daughter, Braxley, play soccer with friends. During the course of the game, Stephanie did not feel quite right. Her feet were numb, tingling and so uncomfortable that Stephanie asked her mother, Vicki Jetton, to drive her to the nearest urgent care center in Portland, Texas. “They did an exam and determined that thinning arteries may have been affecting the sensation in her toes,” Vicki says. “They prescribed her pain medication, and that was it.”
However, the following day, Stephanie was still experiencing discomfort and spent the afternoon sleeping at her mother’s home, resting up for the school week ahead. On Monday morning, she still felt unusual and suspected the pain medication she was not used to taking was to blame. Stephanie pushed through her morning routine anyway and was fixing her daughter’s hair when she experienced a massive stroke.
“Stephanie told Braxley she couldn’t breathe, and then she passed out cold,” Vicki says. “We rushed her to CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi–Shoreline.” At the hospital, Stephanie was treated by an excellent team that happened to include Stephanie’s childhood friend, Amber Blimline, RN, BSN, stroke coordinator with CHRISTUS Spohn Shoreline. When Amber arrived at work that
morning, Stephanie was already in the emergency room.
“The doctor on duty notified me that there was a patient I needed to see and guided me toward her room.” Amber says. “I noticed lots of familiar faces and assumed that one of Stephanie’s relatives had suffered a stroke. I was in absolute shock when I realized the patient was my friend since third grade.”
Stephanie was unconscious and unable to communicate for most of her hospitalization following her stroke, but that did not stop family and friends from talking to her like it was any other day. The family kept a positive attitude throughout, never crying at her bedside or getting discouraged. Amber dropped by regularly to hold her hand and tell jokes and stories, which is not out of character,
according to Stephanie.
“If you have the ability to play a role in the healing process, be supportive and positive like Stephanie’s family,” Amber says. It became clear that Stephanie could feel that positive energy.” Vicki feels sure that Amber’s kindness and humor helped her daughter recover during the critical months following the stroke. “Amber stayed by our side every step of the way and offered inspiration for all of us,” Vicki says.
Road to Recovery
Neurologist Morgan Campbell, M.D., offered both emotional and clinical support to Amber and Stephanie during the recovery process. Specifically, he provided Amber with valuable words of wisdom as she guided her friend through challenging situations.
“Dr. Campbell was aware of my emotional involvement,” Amber says. “He kept me up to date regularly so I could keep the family as informed as possible as a friend and as a health care professional.” With a wealth of support from her family, friends, nurses, physicians and physical therapists, Stephanie is getting stronger every day. Her grandfather, Robert Jetton, drives her to physical therapy regularly and takes Braxley to school. Vicki, Amber and Stephanie have resumed life as they knew it. “A life-changing event can happen in a moment’s time,” Amber says. “No matter how young you are, you’re not invincible. This was an eye-opening experience. I cherish every moment and do not take anything for granted.”