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Bob Lind, Published September 08 2012

Lind: Woman lives active, normal life after having stroke

Since her husband, Darrel, was gone for the evening and she was alone, Marilynn Moe figured it was a good time to send an email to her granddaughter in college.

But while she was typing, her left hand went limp “like a wet dishrag,” she says, and she had no strength.

Thinking she was just tired, she finished the email with her right hand. But then she felt nauseated. So she decided to go to bed.

But she couldn’t move her left foot to get her shoe off. Then, trying to get to the bathroom, she fell, having no strength in her left leg.

Then she lost bladder control, leaving her lying on the floor “a wet mess,” she says. And she began to think, “This may be a stroke.”

That’s exactly what it was.

Teaching piano

Marilynn is a piano teacher from way back; she’s done it for 56 years, and loves it.

This farm girl from Calvin, N.D., is a 1953 graduate of Oak Grove Lutheran High School, Fargo, and of Concordia College in 1956. She and Darrel were married in 1956 and lived in Grafton, N.D., until moving to Fargo in 1996. They have six children, 18 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

In 2010, the Moes moved to Rochester, Minn., to be nearer their family. It was there, last April, where Marilynn had the stroke.

Injection: yes or no?

It took her about 20 minutes to inch to a phone and speed-dial her daughter Muriel Schornack, also of Rochester. But her talk was unintelligible.

Muriel knew, though, who it was from her caller ID, and, from her mother’s garbled talk, she knew she was having a stroke.

Muriel had her husband, Ralph, called 911 on another phone. Responders soon arrived and rushed Marilynn to an emergency room.

Her stroke level continued to rise; she could do less and less.

“I remember being rushed into the CAT scan, feeling so dizzy, and extreme nausea was causing gut-wrenching vomiting,” she says.

She was offered a clot buster injection, since she was within the three-hour window of a stroke’s onset in which it can be effective. But it was explained that it helps only some people, and there were risks.

Marilynn felt she should take it. And it worked.

The ultimate healer

She was taken to the ICU. Her husband and family were with her. So, she says, was the Lord.

She later was moved to the stroke unit of St. Mary’s Hospital and began taking rehabilitation therapy, working on such basics as showering, dressing and eating.

Also, she says, “I was extremely eager for them to take me to a piano, to see if my mind and fingers still worked together so I could play. A great blessing – they did!”

She eventually was sent home. She became involved in a walking program and a group exercise class. She says her upper extremity function, cognition and vision are all close to baseline.

“Doctors reported an ‘amazing, miraculous recovery,’ ” she says. “I give due credit to the wonderful team of Mayo health care experts, and to the Lord, who is the ultimate healer.”

Healthy choices pay off

Marilynn says she had tried to make healthy choices over the years – such as never smoking or drinking, exercising daily, eating sensibly and maintaining a reasonable weight – to avoid health crises in her older years.

“It didn’t turn out that way, in reality,” she says. “However, the pay-off came as the doctors expressed to me that if I hadn’t come in strong, the outcome of this stroke would have been a lot more serious.”

Or, as her son Brian, of West Fargo, a psychology resident, told her, “Mom, if you had laid down and gone to sleep that night as you planned, Dad would have come home and found you either in a coma or dead.”

But that didn’t happen. Instead, she recently celebrated her 77th birthday.

Recently, Marilynn wrote, “Today I enjoyed a normal active day, including some housekeeping chores, completing sewing a quilt for my new great-grandbaby, driving the car on an errand, reading, socializing with friends.”

And, ever so happily, playing the piano.

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