Hillary Chybinski: A Moment in Time

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Moment in Time

Strokes happen more often than you may think - when you least expect them - and even when you're young.
One family's story of stroke and survival

Here's John's story in his own words as a guest poster:

Today, October 26, 2010 is WorldWide Stroke Awareness day.  I still find it hard to believe that I an a stroke survivor…but I am, and this is my story…

It was the week of August 23, 2010 both boys and I were camping in South Jersey with my father in law. For days we fished, hiked, grilled and had a great time. On the 26th I needed to go to a routine dentist appointment for a root canal so I left early.

At the dentist all went normal. I had my usual 2 doses of Novocain to ease the pain and the root canal went smooth.  However, that night while the Novocain wore off, something wasn’t right. It seems that I could not eat on that side still as it was severely swollen and painful.

On the 27th I saw a doctor about it (my family Dr was on vacation) and he prescribed an antibiotic pack to take and if it was still giving me problems to contact an ENT physician on Monday the 30th. Well Monday came and it still bothered me, so I called the ENT and they could fit me in at 2PM. This seemed to jive with other things happening that day and I wanted to be over this pain so I booked it.

So Hillary dropped me off at the doctors and proceeded to take the boys to the library.  There I sat filling in the usual mountain of paper work, medical forms and the like.

Then I got called into the office and the doctor was very nice. He asked several question and looked at me but could not really find anything wrong. He asked me to move from the table to an examination chair so he could use a scope to look inside and I obliged.

He proceeded to use something to clear my sinus and the asked me something I don’t recall. However his response was “Huh?” He then asked me several questions…what’s my name? Where was I and things like that – I answered yet he still replied “huh?” Needless to say this made me angry! Then I noticed he was telling the nurse to call 911 ASAP. I sat there and said WTF is going on…and then all of the sudden I realized that I could not move anything…my arms, legs, etc were all completely numb and unable to move. I said What’s going on, but realized then that just because “I” could hear me, out of my mouth was just gibberish.

It was then the doctor mentioned that I was having a stroke, that an ambulance was on the way and to remain calm as help would be there in a few minutes.

Yea…remain calm…right. I literally had a life passing in front of me moment when he said that. My next thought was to get a hold of Hillary. With the doctors help (as in moving my hand to get her # on my phone) they reached her as the ambulance was arriving. I honestly have no idea what was said – it was pretty much a blur ad mumbles…

The ambulance arrived and the came to collect the goods and head off to Abington Hospital. Boy it must have been fun to collect me is all I can thing of now. And off I went. On the ride to the hospital I began to regain use of my arms and legs…and I thought that it was a mistake and I’ll be out that evening.

So now I’m in the Abington ER with a ton of people and several monitors on me. Hillary arrived and I was happy to see her. They did several tests and then sent me off for am MRI, then a CT Scan. I wont bore you except to say they are long, loud and boring.

After all that – the diagnoses as that my right carotid artery was dissected and they needed to go in and put in a stent or two. Of course you are I said, because…well what else can I do lying there huh?? So off to the ICU I went for some rest and the waiting game for it to happen.

On September 2nd it was time – and off I went. Lots of things were happening, and not all were, lets say un-painful to me. Then it was off to the OR where the doctor and friends were waiting. You are awake for this so as usual I made a few wise cracks and then was on the table and the process began. I thought it was going well, but apparently the Dr didn’t. There was a lot of chatter and then I asked if they were almost finished. Turned out they didn’t really start yet..there  were some “issues” and they called for an anesthesiologist to put me under…and trust me it didn’t take long.

Next thing I know I was back in the ICU with Hillary and some nurses there. I had come to find out the complication was that the tear was the entire length of the artery, that the surgery went for 6 hours and I had stents from my brain all the way to my shoulder blade.

Finally, after several fun days I came home on Sept 6th to a grateful family. Since then I’ve had plenty of tests, rehab, and a 24 hour visit back to the hospital.

I don’t have many physical issues to deal with – just some sloppy speech and a droopy eye…but they will heal over time. My strength is coming back and soon I will return to work. I’ve been to several stroke seminars and I (as well as others) know what to look for in the future…I hope is doesn’t happen again

I don’t know what would have been if it were not for my wife Hillary…I truly owe her my love and my life. Thank you sweetheart.

Know the signs - don't wait.

catch you soon -  


  1. Wow what a great testimonial. Praying for John's health to continue to progress. Thank you so much for posting this for awareness. God forbid we have someone close or one of us have to go through a stroke, but posts like this certainly help know there's hope and the signs.

  2. To look at the bright side of such a terrible idea, thank goodness that John was in a doctor's office when he had the stroke.