Rhea Pineda awakened about 6 a.m. on that Sunday. She sat quietly alone on the side of the bed thinking about the day ahead. Her husband Ros was up even earlier and already out hiking with a friend.
Rhea suddenly felt odd dizzy and disoriented. She remembers sliding off the bed onto the floor then unable to move her right arm and leg and she could not speak. Within seconds the future of this 41-year-old physical therapist – fit trim and in excellent health – was in grave danger. Rhea was experiencing a Large Vessel Occlusion (LVO) of the left middle cerebral artery “one of the worst types of stroke ” explains Adventist Health Glendale Neuro Interventionalist Dr. Mikayel Grigoryan.
A CT angiogram revealed the blockage in one of the major blood vessels and – within minutes – the stroke team extracted a nearly two-inch clot from Rhea’s middle cerebral artery.
The next day Rhea was up walking the halls and amazing everyone in her care. Feeling had returned to her right leg and arm and she was beginning to regain her speech. By the third day, Rhea was sitting cross-legged on her bed, corresponding on her laptop. Ros stood nearby, smiling. “We are very thankful,” he says. “This is a great hospital. Rhea is being saved by the best doctors and very accommodating nurses and staff. Everyone is so friendly and helpful.”
“Rhea made as much of a 180-degree recovery as you can do with a stroke,” Dr. Grigoryan adds. “Honestly, this exceeded my expectations, a fantastic outcome. I do not want to call it a miracle. This can become usual because we’re determined, passionate and committed in doing what we do every day.”
On the fourth day, Rhea was reunited in the hospital with her children, Quinn, Sofia, 7, and Jayren, 4 – and that evening the Pineda family was back in their Glendale home. “The way she’s progressing, with a little bit of speech therapy I think Rhea is going to be speaking normally,” Dr. Grigoryan concludes. “It’s good that Rhea is young…and it’s good to have such a great team that’s right on top of our game. That’s why things happen the way they happen.”