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Vera Loyland, Vascular Surgery Patient

Vera Loyland - Farwell, MI

"Dr. Criado was wonderful. He took his time with me and gave me confidence that I would get back to normal."

Recognizing the Warning Signs Saved Her Life

Vera Loyland refuses to let life's challenges upset her. After suffering a stroke in late May, she tries to accept what she cannot change.

In early 2016, Loyland and her husband, Rand moved from Colorado to Michigan for a new job. Unfortunately, the job didn't pan out and the couple was left to deal with living in a new city with no income. "Everything seemed to be going wrong," she said.

In May, while the couple was driving home from the grocery store, Loyland's head began to ache. "It went from pain to a feeling of swelling and shaking," she said. She described the sensation as feeling as if her head was being shaken like a can of paint in a machine at the hardware store. "My scalp was tingling, and then it went down my arm, to my hand, then down the whole right side of my body."

Shortly before her husband pulled in the driveway, Loyland told him something was wrong. "I couldn't feel my right side. I told him, 'I think I'm having a stroke.' I lost my mother to a massive stroke. The doctors told us some of the symptoms she may have suffered. When I had those feelings, I just knew I was having a stroke, too."

When she arrived at the Emergency Department at MidMichigan Medical Center - Clare, she was admitted and hospital personnel began treating and testing her. Within a couple of hours, the feeling returned to Loyland's limbs and she could use her hand and leg again. "When they ran the ultrasound on my neck they found a blockage in the left artery," Loyland said. "In fact, the artery was 50 percent blocked."

Loyland was smart to seek help when she suspected her symptoms were signs of a stroke. A stroke is a sudden interruption of blood flow to the brain. Stroke is the third-leading cause of death and the number one cause of disability.

Doctors believe Loyland experienced a transient ischemic attack (TIA), or "mini stroke," caused by the narrowed artery. Had she not gone for emergency treatment, chances are she would have had a second stroke, which could have been much more severe. About 20 percent of patients who have a TIA and receive no treatment will have a major stroke within a year. This is why it's important to diagnose stroke symptoms right away.

Loyland was referred to Vascular Surgeon Enrique Criado, M.D. "The first time I saw him, he told me I was scheduled for surgery in just days," she said. "I was a wreck, but Dr. Criado was wonderful. He explained how everything would go and assured me I would be okay. He took his time with me and gave me confidence that I would get back to normal."

On June 6, Dr. Criado performed a carotid endarterectomy. During the procedure, he made an incision in Loyland's neck and removed the plaque buildup from the artery so blood could flow normally once again. "I was very impressed with Dr. Criado and his staff, they're wonderful," Loyland said. "The doctor did an awesome job – you can barely see the incision. They didn't put any restrictions on me and I don't do anything different other than take an 81 mg aspirin every other day."

There were side effects from the surgery but Loyland knows they are temporary. "Certain words cause me problems with pronunciation and I have a bit of a Sylvester Stallone grin," she said. "Dr. Criado told me that he had to move a bundle of nerves and they will take their time moving back, so it may be a few more months until everything is back to normal."

Overall, Loyland is recovering very well. "Life is getting better every day as far as my physical and mental outlook," she said. "I believe worry put me in the hospital in the first place, so I refuse to fret anymore. I just won't do it. I will not put myself in a position to have another stroke."

New treatments are available that can save lives or minimize the damage from a stroke. However, stroke victims must receive these treatments within three hours of the onset of stroke. And the sooner they are treated, the better their chances of full recovery. That's why it's important for everyone to know the warning signs and know what to do. Remember the simple words, Smile, Reach, Speech, and if you think someone may be having a stroke, look for these signs:

Crooked Smile

During a stroke, one side of the face may not move as well as the other side. Ask the person to smile. If the smile is crooked or one side of the face droops, it may indicate a stroke.

Uneven Reach

During a stroke, one side of the body may be weak or unable to move at all. Ask the person to hold both arms straight out for 10 seconds. If one arm drifts down or cannot be raised at all, it may indicate a stroke.

Abnormal Speech

During a stroke, mental confusion or slurred speech is common. Ask the person to repeat a familiar phrase, such as 'The early bird catches the worm.' If words are slurred or mixed up, it may indicate a stroke.


Vascular Surgeon Enrique Criado, M.D., is the Chief of Vascular Surgery at MidMichigan Health and a member of MidMichigan's comprehensive heart and vascular team. He sees patients at MidMichigan Medical Center - Midland and MidMichigan Medical Center - Mt. Pleasant. Those who would like to learn more about becoming a patient may contact his office at (989) 794-5240.

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