Services & Specialties January 15, 2013

Gene Bates Testimonial

“I’m lucky to be alive,” says Marvin “Gene” Bates, a Jackson County resident and Adena Health System patient and survivor. Gene suffered a remarkable 13 strokes over a two-week period and credits Adena with saving his life.

Gene was just 47 years old on the day he woke up feeling “a little ill.” While getting ready for work Gene had a hard time keeping his balance, but being a diabetic, he figured his sugar was low. He ate some candy and took a shower, then headed off for his more than 70-mile commute to work in Columbus.

“I don’t remember much of the drive,” said Gene. “I drove for about 40 miles and remember stopping at the weigh station on Rt. 23 to see if I was still dizzy.” He was. Gene had never been to Adena Regional Medical Center before but had driven past it for years, so he decided to stop on this day.

When Gene arrived at the Adena Regional Medical Center, he pulled up to the Emergency Department door where a pair of paramedics noticed he was having trouble walking. They immediately brought him inside to an exam room.

At Adena when a patient arrives with stroke symptoms, a “stroke alert” goes out to specialized staff who quickly evaluate and treat the patient to limit damage to the brain. “Once I got through the door, doctors and nurses swarmed around to take care of me,” Gene says. “I’m sure if Adena’s staff didn’t take the measures they did, I would’ve died.”

Over a two-week period, CAT scans showed Gene had 13 strokes. Dr. Muhammad Akhtar, an Adena neurologist who helped treat him, says it’s not uncommon for someone to have multiple strokes, but 13 is an exception.

While stroke causes vary for everyone, Gene strongly feels his six-pack-a-day cigarette habit, high consumption of diet soda and a severe lack of sleep contributed to his strokes. He says, “My body was so abused, it was willing to take strokes and keep going.” Since his strokes, Gene has changed his ways and stopped smoking “cold turkey.” “I laid six packs a day down. I was done,” he adds.

Being alive was just the beginning of Gene’s unbelievable journey. He had no movement in his arms or legs, and eventually was transferred to the Adena Greenfield Medical Center for several weeks of inpatient rehabilitation.

Despite his condition, he was determined to walk his daughter down the aisle, and almost two months later Gene kept his promise. “I just kept pushing and pushing during my rehab,” he says.

A year later, the effects of the strokes have minimized. Gene still has some long-term memory loss, right side weakness and uses a cane to walk. He also takes blood thinning medication, and follows doctor’s orders in hopes of preventing future strokes.

Permanently disabled, Gene gave up his trucking business and no longer drives past Adena Regional Medical Center every day, but will never forget the care he received here. “It’s impressive when a group of people do their job as well as they did, and don’t expect a pat on the back,” Gene says. “It was like they were all just doing their jobs. I owe everything to Adena. The Emergency Department staff saved my life.”

Learn more about stroke care at Adena.