Buck Konakowitz owes his life to two paramedics, his wife . . . and his dog.
It was early morning when Buck lost control of the left side of his body and collapsed. When he realized he couldn’t move, Buck told his dog to “go find Mama” in the bedroom. His wife Jacqui realized it was a stroke. She called 911, worried it would take a long time for help to arrive at their rural Webster home.
NH+C’s EMS crew was there within minutes.
Buck had no movement in his left leg or arm. His face was drooping, and he could no longer talk . . . not even to the dog.
“They loaded me into the ambulance,” Buck says, “hooked me up, and took me to Southdale” – the Fairview Southdale Hospital Stroke Center in Edina. “They made the call to go right to the stroke center. I got there in the nick of time, thanks to them. I had the right guys who knew where to take me to the right place.”
A scan there found a blot clot in Buck’s neck; his carotid artery was 99% blocked. Buck was rushed into surgery to remove that clot and one in his brain, and place a stent in his neck. “They told me there were just minutes to get the procedure done,” says Buck, who had a second stroke during surgery. “If we’d gotten there even 15 minutes later, it would have been a very different story.”
By the next day, Buck was regaining strength in his leg and arm. Within two days, he was on his way home. “I’ve got a ways to go, but I consider it a bit of a miracle,” he says.
Buck credits his recovery to the quick action of NH+C’s EMS crew. Paramedic Bill Morgan and EMT Jay Ragalie “were calm and professional, and they made the right decision,” Buck says. “It was all timing: minutes made the difference. Between my wife finding me and their decision to go to Southdale, they saved my life.”
Because NH+C is an independent hospital, it has partnerships with the region’s top specialists in critical fields of care. That way, NH+C can get patients the best care in cardiology, oncology, trauma . . . and stroke.
Buck survived Stage 4 throat cancer nine years ago. Getting medical care “was so different during cancer, because I was so prepared for it,” Buck says. “This stroke was just such an emergency. It required fast action.”
Buck is looking to the future. His risk for another stroke will be higher now for five years. “We’re going to do all we can to not have that happen,” he says.
“I walked out of the hospital when I had my cancer and my stroke,” Buck says. “Now my goal is to walk the pheasant fields in the fall.”
With his dog.
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