How a Faribault, Minn. man survived a stroke while driving

Jerome Nelson, who lives outside Faribault, Minn. has quite a story to tell. Considering how the odds were stack against him, it is amazing he is alive to tell it. The story began on March 13. Fortunately, this Friday the 13th brought him and his family not the luck usually associated with the date, but good luck.

"I gotta rest, I get kind of tired, but I'm getting better all the time," Nelson said looking back on his ordeal.

The ordeal in question began with a simple trip to the car dealership. He left, with his wife following him, to drop off a car at a dealership, when he suddenly the entire right side of his body went numb.

"My arm wouldn't work, my leg wouldn't work. I couldn't get it off the gas pedal. I just kept speeding up and speeding up," Nelson said. "Other than that, the rest of the 10 miles into Faribault. I don't remember any of it."

His wife Cindy, who at the time was following him into Faribault, could tell something was wrong.

"I'm positive he was going faster than 70, because I was going 70 at one point and I could not keep up with him. He was just gone," she said.

No one knows if the three lights he went through were red or green, but Jerome says he does remember hitting a few curbs and somehow making a few turns before coming to a stop.

"I could have very easily gone in a ditch, and killed myself there -- let alone someone else," Nelson said.

When he did finally get the car stopped, his wife was nowhere in sight. It was then, luck (or fate) came into play. His daughter, Shannon Nelson, lives in Faribault, about 10 miles from her parents' home outside of town. It was while she was running an errand to the grocery store she came upon her father's car on the side of the road.

"He was slouched over and I could see his lip was going down. I know that's a major sign for a stroke," Shannon, who has medical training from her job working in a group home, said.

Nelson was airlifted to Abbott Northwestern, and within 24 minutes of arriving, doctors had the blood clot in his brain removed.

Dr. Josser Delgado, who treated Jerome, says if help hadn't found him so quickly, he wouldn't be doing as well as he is today. Dr. Delgado also credits Shannon's ability to recognize the signs of a stroke – the drooping face, inability to talk, weak arms and legs – with helping avoid something direr from happening.

"The moral of the story is when in doubt. It's such a devastating medical condition. And time is so precious, if there are any questions or concerns go to an emergency department right away," Dr. Delgado said.

Nelson can't thank the people who saved his life enough. He also hopes that by telling his story, he can help others.

"I don't know how I got there, I don't know who was driving the car for me. But it wasn't me."

It is estimated that someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds.

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