After stroke: A lot of life to live

Patient Jill Weatherly grateful for the gift of life


Jill Weatherly and family

Jill Weatherly’s advice to anyone feeling the warning signs of stroke: “Get medical help when your symptoms start.” That’s what she did on July 25, 2015. Luckily, Weatherly’s husband drove her to the University of Michigan Health System Emergency Department, where the stroke team administered the clot-busting medication, tPA.

“They saved my life,” Weatherly says. “I got speech and motion back within 15 minutes. And every 15 minutes or so I could see improvement. I’m really grateful for the care.”

Weatherly and her husband were on their way to a leisurely late-morning breakfast. She was driving when she lost most of her speech and her right side went numb. With amazing presence of mind, she got out of the car, walked around to the passenger side and got in. Her husband drove the rest of the way—right to the doors of U-M Emergency. 

By the time they arrived, she had lost speech entirely and couldn’t move.

Stroke care at U-M

“They had to lift me out of the car,” she says. “This really nice man who works there wheeled me to the special triage area for stroke. There were scans involved and everybody was wonderful, from the neurology people, especially Dr. Andrew Sas and Dr. Margaret McDermott, to the radiology personnel and the nurse administering the tPA.

“Once I was transferred to a room in the Stroke Unit, the great care continued. I’m thankful to the whole Neuro team, all the nurses, especially Sandra, the assistants, the physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist and nutritionist.

“I had great transporters, too. They had to haul me all over the place for tests. I have very fond memories of all the staff.”

Weatherly was diagnosed with ischemic stroke and stayed in the hospital for three days. “I left with 80% function back. Now I’m 90-95% back. I passed all the strength and sensation tests.”

Dr. Eric Adelman and Dr. Vikas Kotagal manage her care. She is currently receiving physical therapy and is driving again. “They had occupational therapy at MedRehab where they assessed me for driving and I passed the driving test.”

Weatherly is a part-time administrator at her husband’s engineering testing lab and went back to work pretty quickly after her stroke.

A time to be grateful

“My family has been great through all of this,” she says. Weatherly’s sons are 17 and 22. “I think it was sort of scary for them, you know. But it was the summer and school was out. My 17-year-old drove me all over the place. It was a special time for us. When you go through something like this, you’re so very grateful for your friends and family.”

Weatherly says, “There are a lot of cardiac problems and stroke in my family history, but I wasn’t concerned because I never had any problems.” Until July.

“I can’t control my genetics, but I’ve learned that I can control the things I can control, like diet and exercise.”

U-M Stroke Unit celebrates 10 years

This week, our Stroke Unit celebrates 10 years of dedicated stroke care. All care is provided by physicians, nurses, physical therapists and language therapists who are stroke specialists.

Next steps

Neurosciences logoThe University of Michigan Health System’s Comprehensive Stroke Program holds the official certification of Comprehensive Stroke Center, granted by the Joint Commission accrediting organization and recognized by the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association. Fewer than 100 other hospitals in the country have achieved this elite status.