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Share your Story: Eric Sarno

by Jason H. on Monday, December 9, 2013

Eric Sarno Wisconsin

On July 3rd 2007, I experienced a hemorrhagic stroke at the age of 37.  I developed a sagittal sinus thrombosis (blood clot in my brain).  The clot was about the size of your pinky finger.  Initially my blood clot was treated with a blood thinning medication called Heparin. The hope was to thin my blood so that the blood could travel through the clot and hopefully break it up....But my body was allergic to the Heparin, and I developed H.I.T., Heparin induced thrombocytopenia.  So, my body was developing antibodies that started to destroy my platelets.  Platelets are essential cells in the blood stream to help regulate the thickness or viscosity of the blood.  I was hemorrhaging and now because of my allergy to Heparin, there was little hope to stop the bleeding in my brain.  The  hemorrhaging eventually subsided, but not until about a 1/2 cup of blood spilled-out onto my brain. 

As a result, I have experienced the following events: 5 Neurosurgeries (removal of a portion of my skull (bone-flap), to allow my brain room to swell and heal. My original bone-flap was replaced after a few months of being removed and stored.  Shortly after it was replaced, it became infected, requiring me to be treated with a powerful antibiotic called Vancomyacin, which I had to to self administer through an intravenous pic-line for a few weeks while a new bone-flap was created.  When the infection cleared-up the synthetic bone flap was installed.  Then, fluid started to form in the ventricles inside my brain, a condition referred to as Hydrocephalus.  Upon developing hydrocephalus, I needed to have a shunt installed into my brain to drain the fluid.  Shortly after a shunt was placed, it malfunctioned, so it had to be removed.  I was able to have the original shunt replaced with a Medtronic VP adjustable shunt, which allows for adjustments to be made without operating. 

I spent about 3 weeks in the ICU.  It took about 11 months of In-patient and out-patient rehabilitation to help me recover and compensate from left neglect(proprioception) and left-side paralysis.  Essentially, I had to learn how to walk, eat, write, bathe, drive, and dress myself, all over again.  I returned to work about 12 months after my stroke.  I also was able to return to direct the Quad Cities Triathlon, the non-profit event/organization that I created and have run, since 1999.  Proceeds from our non-profit organization are donated to Stroke rehabilitation and the American Red Cross.  I competed in my first triathlon about 2 years after my stroke.  I shouldn't  forget to mention that I have developed epilepsy since having my stroke.

Throughout all of my experience I am most fortunate to have been able to get back to raising my two daughters as a single father, Madeline 13 and Olivia 11.  In addition to being a father, competing in triathlons, and working full-time, I have had the honor to advocate for stroke survivors at the state and national level.  I serve as a board member for the National Stroke Association's advocacy steering committee, as well as serving on the advocacy board for the American Heart Association in the state of Wisconsin. I also enjoy traveling around the country presenting my story and advocacy message to stroke survivors and healthcare professionals.

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Comments (1)

  • I am very happy to hear that Eric was helped to recover from a stoke at such a young age. Without medical research and documentation of stoke events, most of us would not survive. I am being treated for cancer at this time and I know that without past research, I would not have lived this long. Now I can be treated with medications to fight the cancer.  I am also a cardio/vascular patient, again without medical documhave fentations and research, I may have died from that. We must have funding for these programs.  I am 67 years old but I feel that I make a contribution to the world and would like to continue enjoying being a Mom n Grandma.  jeri

    — Jerilyn M.

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