Huntsville man tells story of surviving blood clot, stroke

Updated: May. 31, 2021 at 5:19 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - May is National Stroke Awareness Month. Stroke is a leading cause of death and can happen to anyone. One Huntsville man knows this all too well. He suffered a stroke while eating dinner with friends.

Tracy Flesch is like a lot of people. He thought he was healthy until...

“The stroke came out of nowhere. It was not expected.”

Flesch remembers the date well.

“It was January 5, 2020. My wife and I were meeting some friends for dinner. We got there and it was a Mexican place. They brought a margarita sat it down. We were talking, they brought the food and I picked up my fork and dropped it with my left hand. I picked it up again and dropped it. On the third time I dropped it under the table when I sat up I saw the look on their face and I knew something was wrong. My face was drooping I had to concentrate on every word I was saying because I was slurring,” said stroke survivor Tracy Flesch.

Flesch was rushed by ambulance to Huntsville Hospital.

“In the ambulance, they said you are having a stroke. I said, no way. He said you can’t even move your left leg. That’s when I thought holy smokes something is really going on,” said Flesch.

As ti turns out, Flesch had a 3 - 4 inch blood clot in his carotid artery.

“It stopped the blood flow into the right side of my brain.”

Dr. Dana Tomalty is the Peripheral and Neuro Interventional Radiologist at Huntsville Hospital. He’s on the front lines when people like Flesch are having a stroke.

“In Tracy’s case, he had a diseased carotid artery. It decided to stop flowing that day. It sent a blood clot into his brain. We removed the clot from the brain and then we come back and fixed the carotid artery so that we maintain flow into his brain,” said Dr. Dana Tomalty, Peripheral and Neuro Interventional Radiologist at Huntsville Hospital.

It was because of this, Flesch’s life was saved.

“I had the stroke on a Saturday. I was in ICU for 3 to 4 days. I was discharged from the hospital on Thursday and I went back to work on Friday,” said Flesch.

Flesch says he still has some side effects from the stroke. He has trouble typing because his left hand is weak. And, his speech slurs when he’s tired. He says it’s nothing he can’t deal with though.

He also says he knows just how lucky he is to have survived.

“It’s just now a year later that it really freaks me out. I think back and I see people walking that have had a stroke and I realize how lucky I am. That’s where you get scared. I was really close to not surviving or worse being permanently disabled it could have easily gone the other way.”

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