WSVN -- It started out as a normal day, but then Sharon Hill says things started to go downhill.
Sharon Hill: "My speech was very very slurred."
When she sat down to write a note, something was obviously very wrong.
Sharon Hill: "I wrote my name twice, but I wrote it on top of each other, and it was misspelled."
Then she started to feel dizzy.
Sharon Hill: "Once the dizziness came on I felt like I was going into a tunnel."
Her family called 911 and got her to the emergency room right away. She was having a stroke.
Dr. James Jaffe: "Stroke is essentially a lack of blood flow to the brain."
Dr. James Jaffe at Memorial Regional Hospital says it's critical to recognize the warning signs.
Dr. James Jaffe: "Change in their speech pattern, sometimes they'll have difficulty finding words or difficulty with their thoughts and those would all be signs of a mini-stroke."
ACT Scan showed Sharon had a blood clot on the right side of her brain.
Dr. James Jaffe: "She had severe weakness on the left side of her body both leg and arm and she was unable to speak."
Doctors used a new tool to save Sharon it's called the Penumbra Stroke System. The company gave us this video to show you how it works: A catheter is inserted through the groin and up into the brain. Then, a small corkscrew device is used to break up blood clots and literally suck them out.
Dr. James Jaffe: "Essentially, we're trying to get the clot out like the plumber would get the clog out of the sink."
Other treatments had to be performed within a three-hour window to be successful, but with Penumbra, the device can be used up to eight hours.
After the onset of stroke symptoms, Sharon felt better right after the procedure.
Dr. James Jaffe: "Strength came back on the left side of her body, she was able to understand and speak normally as she had before."
Even now Sharon can't believe what happened to her.
Sharon Hill: "I never expected to have a stroke, no."
But she is thankful for the quick work of her family and doctors so she and her husband can continue spending time with their 11 grandchildren.
Sharon Hill: "I am praying for 2010 to be a different year."
Diana Diaz: "Dr. Jaffe says if you or someone you love might be having stroke symptoms don't wait for them to get worse. Get to a hospital as quickly as possible."
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Memorial Regional Hospitalwww.mhs.net