Little Rock Man Grateful For ‘Remarkable’ UAMS Stroke Team

By Kaitlin Barger

During his morning shower, he suddenly knew that something was wrong.

As a healthy 40-year-old, he thought he had just gotten overheated or was having a panic attack. When he started walking across his bedroom, he collapsed to the ground.

His wife, Lauren, called her mother, a long-time nurse at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), and asked what to do. Over the phone, she asked Cam Deacon to do one critical thing: Smile.

As soon as he smiled at his wife, she realized it was off. He was showing textbook symptoms of a stroke.

Use the “BE FAST” test (Balance, Eyesight, Face, Arms, Speech, Time) if you believe someone is having a stroke. Ask the person if there was a sudden loss of balance, or change in vision in one or both eyes. Ask the person to smile, and observe if one side of their face droops. Ask the person to raise their arms, and note if one drops downward. Ask the person to speak, and note if speech is slurred. If any of these signs are present, immediately call 911.

He was rushed to UAMS where a team of health professionals was awaiting his arrival. UAMS is the state’s first Comprehensive Stroke Center (CSC) certified by the Joint Commission — the most demanding stroke certification, and one designed for hospitals that have specific abilities to receive and treat the most complex stroke cases.

One of Deacon’s doctors was Kelly-Ann Patrice, M.D., a vascular neurologist in the College of Medicine’s Department of Neurology.

“It’s very important for patients as soon as they experience symptoms or signs or a stroke to present to the emergency room,” Patrice said.

She and other members of Deacon’s care team were able to give him a powerful tPA, A clot buster, and save his life and restore function. The next challenge was to figure out what caused the stroke in the first place.

The problem ended up being a tiny hole between two chambers of Deacon’s heart, something easily fixed with surgery.

Just three days after his stroke, Deacon was out of the ICU. He returned to work at Moses Tucker Partners after a week. Now, he says his only symptom is an occasional balance issue.

Deacon is sharing his story in the hopes someone will be inspired to remember the signs and symptoms of a stroke; and most importantly, get help when they appear.

“If you feel like something’s wrong,” said Deacon, “just pay attention to it and get it checked out.”