I’m Not Lucky, I’m Blessed

Knoxville Woman Receives Prompt Stroke Treatment at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center

Imagine you are eating lunch with coworkers on an average day when suddenly, you begin involuntarily slurring your words. That’s what happened to information technology professional Missy Wayland. She felt fine in one moment and in the next, was having a stroke.

Thanks to the quick action of the team at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, Wayland received prompt treatment and her symptoms subsided. She is now back at work after a series of frightening episodes and continues under the careful watch of her providers.

Scary Situation

Wayland, a North Knoxville resident, had never exhibited stroke symptoms before. During her first episode she recalls, “In my head, I was clear. But my words came out slurred, and my coworkers noticed I wasn’t moving my left arm,” Wayland says. “My face had drooped a bit. I was able to lift my arms somewhat, but it was determined I needed to go to the hospital.”

After realizing something wasn’t right, Wayland went to Fort Sanders Regional and was seen within minutes. With a stroke, time is brain, meaning that the more time that elapses before treatment, the less chance that therapy is successful.

Diagnostic tests confirmed that Wayland had an episode called “TIA.” A TIA, or transient ischaemic attack, is caused by a temporary disruption in the blood supply to part of the brain, resulting in a lack of oxygen to the brain. These attacks are called “mini-strokes” because they do not always lead to permanent damage and patients can often fully recover.

Stroke Team

Jennifer Yanoschak, MD, is a vascular neurologist at Fort Sanders Regional who treated Wayland. She says, “Ms. Wayland presented to the emergency department with acute stroke symptoms. She received a thrombolytic drug called tenecteplase, referred to as TNK, to open up clogged blood vessels.”

Wayland had recently been diagnosed with diabetes, which likely contributed to a condition called stenosis, or the narrowing of her blood vessels. For patients who have diabetes, it is crucial to control blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels and blood pressure to help prevent stenosis, which can lead to stroke and heart attack. It is likely that these factors reached abnormal levels and were the root cause of Wayland’s stroke-like symptoms.

“Within an hour of getting the medicine, the weakness and droop on my left side were gone,” Wayland says. She remained in the intensive care unit for two days but returned three weeks later after experiencing numbness down her left side.

She was examined by the stroke team, who located a partial blockage in a blood vessel behind her right eye. Dr. Yanoschak determined that Wayland required further adjustment to her blood pressure medication and that no surgical intervention was needed. “We will continue to monitor her closely and adjust her medication as needed,” says Dr. Yanoschak.

Time is Brain

Wayland recalls, “I was terrified. I thought I was having a stroke. It’s very scary to not have control over your body like that.” She is thankful for the compassionate and thorough treatment she received at Fort Sanders Regional.

“She did the right thing by immediately seeking treatment,” Dr. Yanoschak says. “With a stroke, time is brain. The sooner people come to the hospital or call 911, the more treatment options we have and the more quickly we can administer treatment, preventing brain damage and leading to better outcomes.”

Dr. Yanoschak confirms that if left untreated, Wayland risked having a larger stroke and suffering permanent tissue damage. Dr. Yanoschak also emphasizes that high blood pressure, as well as unchecked cholesterol and blood sugar, can lead to the narrowing of the arteries, causing stroke symptoms to occur.

Making the Connection

Wayland works in the information technology department of Covenant Health, of which Fort Sanders Regional is a member hospital. She manages devices for the health system such as printers and scanners, and she ensures the devices interact properly with the hospital’s electronic records. She is particularly proud of an effort during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when she was responsible for deploying a dozen iPads to member hospitals in the Covenant Health system. 

“This allowed people who were isolated with the virus to connect with their loved ones at home. It was important to me to make sure families could communicate when someone was in the hospital.”

Things came full circle when a nurse scanned Wayland’s hospital bracelet, which displayed a barcode. “I helped make that barcode,” she said, to the nurse’s delight.

Excellent Care

“Everyone who did my scans and all the nurses were just wonderful,” she says. “I am blessed beyond words to have the care that I had.”

Wayland is back at work and enjoying life with her five rescue dogs. She would recommend care at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center to anyone, not just for lifesaving care, but for the compassion and kindness shown to every person who enters through the doors.

“At first, I felt lucky. Then I realized it’s not luck. I’m blessed.”




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