Patient Success Stories
Peg Sheehan was out to lunch with the girls when her husband called complaining of a horrible headache and blurry vision. She offered to come home, but Jack said he was alright. He wasn’t. Shortly after they hung up, Jack called back asking Peg to dial 911. On March 26, 2014, Manhattan paramedics transported him to Silver Cross Hospital’s Emergency Department (ED) where a Code Stroke Team was waiting.
To rule out an aneurysm, emergency medicine physician Dr. Anthony Murino ordered a CT Scan on the 64-year-old. The test showed Jack had blood within the ventricular system of his brain. Within minutes, Dr. Kamran Khan, neurosurgeon, had inserted a drain to relieve the pressure. Once Jack’s headache and high blood pressure were under control, Dr. Richard Burgess performed an angiogram, which showed some irregularities on the right side of Jack’s brain.
Photo Caption: Peg and Jack Sheehan
“It was not an aneurysm but a fistula or tear,” recalls Dr. Burgess, interventional neurosurgeon with theSilver Cross Neuroscience Institute. “It needed to be repaired or Jack could have been severely disabled or worse.”
A MRI uncovered that Jack had an arterial venous malformation of the brain stem that was the cause of the bleeding and pressure. After consulting with his partner, Harish Shownkeen M.D., Dr. Burgess developed a detailed treatment plan that offered Jack the best chance to regain his abilities. This included Dr. Khan immediately inserting a second drain to relieve the fluid and blood that was building up on the left side of Jack’s brain.
Surgery was scheduled for the next day to stop the bleeding. Because of Jack’s history of heart disease, his cardiologist, Dr. Joseph Stella, evaluated him to make sure he could survive the procedure. On March 28, Dr. Burgess took Jack to Silver Cross Hospital’s endovascular suite where using a type of “super glue” he closed off several fistulas between the artery and vein near Jack’s brain stem.
“All the doctors and nurses were amazing,” exclaimed Peg. “Dr. Burgess spent as much time with us as we needed to understand what was happening to Jack. He came by a couple times of day. Dr. Khan, Dr. Shownkeen and Dr. Stella too. It was touch and go for quite a while.”
Healing Takes Time and Talent
Jack spent several weeks in the ICU where Peg and the nurses played music to help with Jack’s healing. He was struggling with high blood pressure and an abnormal heart rate and there was concern that Jack may have pneumonia. The doctors decided to keep Jack sedated until his vitals were under control. This lasted until March 31. A couple days later, Jack was ready to start therapy with The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) at Silver Cross Hospital. His team consisted of physical and occupational therapists and speech-language pathologists and physical and rehabilitation medicine physicians under the direction of Dr. Andrew Hendrix.
“The therapists worked hard to get Jack ready to move from the ICU to RIC’s rehabilitation unit on the 5th floor,” said Peg. “They taught me what I could do to help which included exercises for getting him up and for swallowing. This was very difficult for Jack. He had a feeding tube for a long time. Seeing the therapists was always the favorite part of Jack’s day.”
As Jack’s progress improved, he regained his sense of humor and even knew who the golfers were competing in the Master’s tournament. On April 17, Jack was transferred to the rehab unit where he adjusted to a rigorous schedule to further improve his mobility, speech and memory.
On April 25, Jack was finally able to eat real food, climb stairs and do crossword puzzles. His brain was healing. Just one week later, Jack was able to ascend a full flight of stairs, walk without assistance, and even won a game of bean bag toss.
On May 9, after spending nearly 7 weeks in the Hospital, Jack went home. His double vision was finally gone. He continued his therapy as an outpatient with RIC at Silver Cross for a month. An angiogram on June 24 revealed Jack’s brain had healed. There were no signs of fistulas.
Ready to Hit the Links
A Eucharistic minister who volunteers on Wednesdays at the Hospital, Peg attributes Jack’s recovery to the power of prayer and the entire team at Silver Cross.
“They were supportive and never gave up always thinking out of the box to help Jack; especially Dr. Burgess who would always calm me down and listen to my concerns,” said Peg. “He is a very caring physician and sensitive to both the patient and family’s needs.”
Peg adds, “When something like this happens, you don’t always get to choose your doctors and nurses. Anyone who gets Dr. Burgess and the rest of the Silver Cross staff is very fortunate.”
The Sheehans recently moved to Orland Park to be closer to their children and grandchildren. Jack is back golfing, although he admits the game will never be the same. He also helps Peg out around the house—even cooking and cleaning. Peg’s Jack is back!
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