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Signs of stroke sideline 'normal summer Sunday'

Patient Spotlight March 30, 2015 By Main Line Health

It was a normal summer Sunday. Beth Croner had just finished up some gardening in the front yard and chores around the house while her husband, Rob, headed out to run errands. Taking a break from her to-do list, she and a neighbor sat down at the kitchen table to catch up.

“I remember letting her in and sitting down at the table,” recalls Croner. “The next thing I remember was waking up face down on the kitchen floor.”

With the help of her neighbor, Croner helped herself up and immediately called Rob. He returned home, and the couple rushed to Paoli Hospital. Although, in hindsight, Croner says she knows she should have called an ambulance, she admits that she downplayed her symptoms.

“Honestly, I look back and maybe should’ve called 911 but I downplayed things a bit. I wanted my husband to take me. I thought I was better than I was,” she explains.

The staff at the Paoli Hospital emergency department, however, knew exactly how serious Croner’s condition was. Upon her arrival, the team recognized signs of stroke and immediately transferred her via ambulance to Bryn Mawr Hospital, part of Main Line Health Neurosurgery, a member of Jefferson Neuroscience Network. There, it was confirmed: Croner had suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage as a result of a brain aneurysm.

The Bryn Mawr Hospital team acted quickly. Croner’s aneurysm had already caused her brain to bleed twice, once during her car ride to Paoli and once en route to Bryn Mawr. Though Croner’s surgery was originally scheduled to be the morning after her arrival, the team rescheduled her surgery for later that evening. They knew that they couldn’t afford to wait.

Croner’s diagnosis and impending surgery came as a shock to both her and her husband. She had no family history of stroke or aneurysm. Over the last decade, she had fainted twice and felt light-headed on certain occasions, but a CT scan had revealed no underlying issues.

“When my husband told me I had a hemorrhagic stroke, all I could think was ‘No one in my family has ever had one’,” she says. “Still, when I think back on my time at Bryn Mawr, I felt totally relaxed. I knew I was surrounded by good people.”

On August 24, 2014, Croner underwent a coil embolization to treat her ruptured aneurysm. The minimally-invasive procedure involved threading a catheter into the body through the femoral artery, located near the groin. Then, using a medical imaging device called a fluoroscopy, Surgeons advanced the catheter into Croner’s brain.

Once the catheter was successfully advanced into the blood vessels of the brain, surgeons placed soft platinum coils inside of the aneurysm to obstruct the blood flow and prevent additional bleeding.

Although Croner doesn’t recall many details of her stroke and the hours leading up to her surgery, she knows that August 24 was a “long night” for the team. For their time and the care she received, she couldn’t be more grateful.

“Emergencies don’t always happen nine-to-five,” she says. “You’re a 24-hours-a-day operation, and I am so thankful to the staff that was there to treat me that night.”

Following her surgery, Croner spent 15 nights in the Neuro Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (NCICU). Upon returning home, she was under the care of a visiting nurse and physical therapist, both of whom helped her get back on her feet and ensured she was doing so safely. In mid-October, just under two months after her stroke, Croner was already easing back into her career in real estate.

“I really just had to start moving again, that was the biggest part of my recovery,” she recalls. “Now, though, I feel good. There’s still a little bit of pressure in my head, but I feel great. You would never know I had a stroke.”

In February 2015, Croner visited for a six-month follow-up appointment, where an angiogram gave her a clean bill of health. Grateful to be alive and back on her feet, Croner says she owes her health—and her life—to the Bryn Mawr Hospital care team.

“Not a day has passed that I don’t think about how fortunate I am, and I know it’s because of the outstanding care I received. I can’t thank the team enough,” she says.