Wife's quick action helps prevent long-term effects after Blaine city councilman's stroke

Blaine City Councilman Dick Swanson said quick recognition by his wife made a huge difference.

A long-time Blaine city councilmember suddenly lost feeling in part of his body and couldn't speak. While time wasn't on his side, his wife was, and now the couple is sharing their story about surviving a stroke without any side effects.

"I walked the dogs, had lunch, came back home," recalled Dick Swanson. "I was sitting on the couch, started out reading."

But, that typical summer day for Councilman Dick Swanson changed in an instant.

"My vision started going, then my arm started going numb and, at that point, Kris sat down," he said. "I think I said, 'I think I'm having a stroke.'"

His wife Kris Fitzer wasn’t even supposed to be home.

"I say Dr. Seuss saved his life," she said.

Kris had stopped by to pick up a Dr. Seuss book for a friend that afternoon instead of a long shopping trip she had originally planned.

"It’s kind of a God moment that Dr. Seuss brought me home," Kris said.

Kris called 911 and within 20 minutes he was at Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids.

"I met Dick here in the evaluation room where I was able to see him and see an obvious stroke," said emergency physician Kaveesh Manharaj.

Because Kris acted so quickly, Dick was able to get special medicine called TPA.

"Essentially, to give this medication, a very strong blood thinner, that can break up the blood clot," explained Manharaj.  "Essentially, in some cases, reverse stroke symptoms."

The stroke happened in July, and he’s had no long-term impacts since then. Grateful for the effort, he took time at last month’s city council meeting to thank the first responders.

"I am considered what's to be the lucky 10 percent because I came out of it with no physical or mental problems," he said. "I’m here because of the Blaine police and EMTs and the fact my wife recognized the symptoms of a stroke."

To recognize a stroke, the American Stroke Association urges patients to know the F.A.S.T. warning.

F - Face Drooping
A - Arm weakness
S - Speech
T - Time to call 911.

You can click here for more tips from the association.