MERRILLVILLE | After walking upstairs from the laundry room one day in March, Harriet Miles stood in her kitchen, and her whole side grew weak and numb.
“I remember falling to the floor,” she said.
A day or two later, she woke up in a hospital room, paralyzed on her right side. The 31-year-old Gary resident did not recognize anyone and did not know how to write or walk.
“I barely knew how to talk,” she said.
Unbeknownst to her, emergency responders had taken Miles to Methodist Hospitals Northlake campus in Gary, where doctors suspected she was having a stroke.
She did not respond to the standard treatment called IV tPA.
Because her boyfriend called 911 so quickly after she fell, Miles was still within the six- to eight-hour window in which doctors could treat her with new technology.
She was transferred to the Southlake campus in Merrillville, where Dr. Mayumi Oka, a neurointerventional radiologist, used a tool called Trevo to pull the blood clot from her brain. It was FDA approved in August, and Methodist Hospitals acquired the Trevo over the winter, she said.
“Her stroke scale score went down to almost zero in one day,” Oka said. “It was very nice. Sometimes we open a vessel, but the patient doesn't improve much.”
Dr. Sanjeev Maniar, a neurologist and director of the stroke program at Methodist Hospitals, said recognizing the signs early is key, and people don't have to leave the area for high-tech care.
“For this kind of patient, they don't have to go to Chicago,” he said. “We can get all the treatment right here. People will be using this procedure more and more.”
Miles believes one purpose of her life is to share her story and raise awareness of stroke prevention and symptoms.
“I am able to walk, I'm able to talk,” Miles said. “I just thank God that I'm still here. I'm not even supposed to be alive. I feel like I am here for a reason, and I believe my reason is to speak about it and to keep somebody else from going through what I went through.”
Miles has two children, 4-year-old Javonte Artison and 1-year-old Jalyssa Artison.
She still has trouble forming sentences from time to time. And a second, smaller stroke in May leaves her walking with a cane, but she is grateful to be able to move around.
“I can't do everything that I used to do,” she said. “I can't run, because of my weakness. I can't walk fast. My arm is very weak.”
She moves slowly and is tired but knows it is going to be a long process.
“I do not sit and mope,” Miles said.
She credits the stroke care team for its quick action and support.
Stroke coordinator Sherry Mosier, a stroke survivor who does stroke education for Methodist, which is a certified Primay Stroke Center, checked on Miles and offered her help.
Mosier said that Miles truly had no idea what happened to her.
“We were able to show her the pictures (brain scans) and go through everything,” Mosier said.
Miles has a song that keeps her going.
“It played in my head the whole time that I lay in that hospital bed,” she said. “It says, 'I am reaping the harvest God promised me/take back what the devil stole from me/and I will rejoice.' That is the song that is helping me move forward. I've got to reap the harvest that God promised me.”