Leroy Jordan is a man who appreciates structure. He rises at 6 a.m. each morning and almost always eats the same cereal for breakfast. After taking medication to manage his diabetes, he settles into his recliner to read the morning paper. Then, it’s a quick shower and on a good day, a visit to the gym. But Feb. 25, 2015, was different.
Leroy Jordan is a man who appreciates structure. He rises at 6 a.m. each morning and almost always eats the same cereal for breakfast. After taking medication to manage his diabetes, he settles into his recliner to read the morning paper. Then, it’s a quick shower and on a good day, a visit to the gym.
But Feb. 25, 2015, was different.
It was Primary Election Day in Springfield and he was eager to cast his vote for a new mayor, but that morning he woke up feeling strange. When he tried to get out of bed, he collapsed to the floor. Living in a tight-knit community in Springfield, his wife, Johnetta, called for a neighbor’s grandson to help get him back on two feet. When he became unresponsive, the two realized the seriousness of the situation and quickly called 911.
“I remember being on the floor and then not much after that,” said the 74-year-old grandfather. Leroy was experiencing an acute ischemic stroke, a condition that happens when a clot blocks the blood vessels to the brain and prevents the cells from getting necessary blood flow. This type of stroke is responsible for more than 60,000 deaths a year, and if not treated immediately, it would almost certainly lead to life-long complications for Leroy.
Luckily, he received quick, expert treatment at Memorial’s Comprehensive Stroke Center, led by Augusto Elias, MD, a neurointerventional radiologist with Clinical Radiologists. With support from physician assistant Bill Greer, registered nurse Tim Flatley and the rest of the neurointerventional team, Leroy received the high-quality care needed to get him on the road to recovery.
“He was given medication that would bust the clot that was preventing his brain from getting blood,” Greer said. “We then used a combination of aspiration and a retrievable stent. That involves sucking the clot out like a vacuum and then opening a mesh tube in the vessel that traps the clot inside. The stent and the clot are then removed at the same time.”
After his procedure, Leroy was transferred to Memorial’s Intensive Care Unit for close monitoring. Once stabilized, he received inpatient Rehab Services for several weeks. He then spent several months receiving outpatient services for intensive speech, physical and occupational therapy.
“It was hard on me and my family,” Leroy said. “My daughters came home and took turns with my wife staying with me throughout it.”
A man who had dedicated his career to educating middle school and college students suddenly faced the challenge of relearning everything himself. From tying his shoes to reading and writing, the rigorous therapy tested his physical, spiritual and emotional strength.
“I still have times when I have to think about a question or my response,” he said. “And sometimes I tend to drag my left foot a little. But when I think about where I was and where I am now, it’s huge. I’m alive. Thanks to God and these people, I have my life back.”
These days, Leroy is back to his routine. Most afternoons he can be found serving in various community and ministry groups, including chairing the local high-speed rail task force and serving on the Memorial Corporation of the Board. Evenings are spent relaxing with his wife over dinner and then catching up on whatever sport is in season.
When night falls, he often finds himself reflecting. Thinking about the events of the day, how far he’s come and the gravity of what could have been.
“I’ve always considered myself a life-long learner, and this experience has strengthened my faith in God, people and myself,” he said. “I still have some gifts to give, so I’m glad I’ve bounced back as well as I have. So when I tell people it’s good to be here, I mean it. It is really good to still be here.”