Duane Haas is a walking testimonial about stroke and recovery. In January 2013, Haas suffered multiple strokes causing him to lose his peripheral vision and his sense of taste. The debilitating consequences of the stroke caused his confidence to wane along with his independence.
Fast-forward three years and Haas is a stroke survivor singing praises about Dr. Khanh Nguyen, a neurologist affiliated with Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital, and the “wonderful” care he received there. He vows to tell anyone within earshot about the value of recognizing a stroke before it happens.
“Dr. Nguyen was incredible,” said Haas, whose sister recommended the doctor while Haas was hospitalized at Memorial Hermann Northeast. “He explained everything to me about a stroke, where it happened in my brain and helped me get back to where I’m doing everything for myself again.”
Haas was familiar with strokes and the harm they could do. His father suffered strokes and he watched his mother eventually die due to complications from a stroke. On average, someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds, someone dies of a stroke every four minutes and 795,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year, according to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.
While Haas’ road to recovery started and ended at Memorial Hermann Northeast, a spur in the road took him to TIRR Memorial Hermann – Greater Heights where he received vision therapy that helped him to reclaim some of his eyesight.
Haas said Dr. Nguyen’s treatment plan coupled with techniques learned in vision therapy and Stroke Support Group meetings at Memorial Hermann Northeast, has taught him how “to live and survive.”
“The strength of the Memorial Hermann Health System is its ability to provide multiple access points to our many healthcare services,” said Dr. Nguyen, regarding his referral of Haas to TIRR Memorial Hermann – Greater Heights for vision therapy. “It’s very important to be thorough at each step in the continuum of care to ensure the best possible outcomes for our patients.”
The Stroke Support Group meetings at Memorial Hermann Northeast have given Haas an outlet to learn about stroke and a forum to tell his story. After his stroke, Haas decided he needed to change. A diabetic, he modified his diet by eating in moderation, and started exercising, mostly riding his bike, walking and doing “wall push-ups.”
“I talk to anybody I can talk to,” said Haas. “I tell them if you have certain kinds of symptoms, don’t wait; don’t be like me because I’m very well aware of what a stroke can do.”
Dr. Nguyen concurred with Haas.
“Many patients do not want to think about small things that happen that might be signs of a stroke,” said Dr. Nguyen. “It’s important to not dismiss warning signs like arm weakness or numbness or difficulty speaking or disorientation. All of things these can be signs of stroke and immediately acting on them increases a person’s chances of recovering from stroke.”
The American Stroke Association advises to remember the acronym F.A.S.T. to spot signs of stroke.