OHIO COUNTY, W.Va. (WTRF) – This Thursday is World Heart Day, and residents across the area will be out in force for the 2022 Ohio Valley Heart Walk.
The American Heart Association says that even a single story can inspire, teach and provide hope for millions affected by heart disease and strokes. Dr. Michael Campsey is the Chief of Cardiology at Wheeling Hospital. On November 17th of 2021, he suffered a stroke while he was exercising at home. Now he’s back to work, and is serving as this year’s Heart Walk Chair.
This is his story:
“And next thing I know I’m on the ground, playing with my hand, trying to figure out why won’t my fingers move? Why won’t my hand move? I mean it’s dead.”Dr. Michael Campsey, M.D., Chief of Cardiology at Wheeling Hospital
What started as an ordinary day for Dr. Michael Campsey turned into a morning he will never forget. Part-way through his morning exercise he suffered a stroke.
“It was called a cryptogenic stroke, which is a stroke that basically means you don’t know where it came from.”Dr. Michael Campsey, M.D., Chief of Cardiology at Wheeling Hospital
He quickly realized that something was very wrong.
“I got off the bike, felt, you know, OK, went over to start doing some calisthenics and I remember looking off to the right, and my hand was just not doing what I wanted it to do.”Dr. Michael Campsey, M.D., Chief of Cardiology at Wheeling Hospital
Campsey had to crawl across the ground with one arm. He banged on a metal gate to make enough noise for his wife Katie, who was upstairs, to hear him.
“And then I realized, my arm’s not working and these funny noises are coming out of my mouth. Like ‘mah, mah, mah.’ And at that point I’m sure that I knew that I was having a stroke.”Dr. Michael Campsey, M.D., Chief of Cardiology at Wheeling Hospital
The paramedics arrived and immediately called for a helicopter to get him to WVU.
“And I distinctly remember this is tight. This is a tight fit. So I know that having a stroke like the stroke that I had does not make your claustrophobia go away.”Dr. Michael Campsey, M.D., Chief of Cardiology at Wheeling Hospital
After making it to the hospital, Campsey says he went through a variety of tests so that his doctors could figure out what was happening. After just two days, he received some very welcome news.
“They told me I might get to go home the next day, which I thought was pretty amazing. I’m only two days into a major stroke and they’re going to let me go home.”Dr. Michael Campsey, M.D., Chief of Cardiology at Wheeling Hospital
After returning home, Campsey began his road to recovery.
“The first time I met with a speech therapist I couldn’t mention, you know, she asked me to mention like, as many vegetables as I could in a minute. I think I got like five….But by the end of that I could, you know, go on and on about vegetables or whatever she wanted me to.”Dr. Michael Campsey, M.D., Chief of Cardiology at Wheeling Hospital
Dr. Campsey’s right hand was significantly affected by the stroke, so he practiced hand therapy to work on his fine motor skills. But the most challenging part of his recovery came about 6 weeks out…the onset of anxiety.
“That was challenging, definitely very challenging. First thing I tried was meditation, you know, got online, looked up a meditation program for anxiety and started that. And that helped a little bit.”Dr. Michael Campsey, M.D., Chief of Cardiology at Wheeling Hospital
Campsey says he felt like he lost his confidence, so he began meeting with a therapist in Wheeling, which he says helped him a lot.
“He ultimately said that, among other things, I was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Which, I wasn’t really sure that I bought that.”Dr. Michael Campsey, M.D., Chief of Cardiology at Wheeling Hospital
It wasn’t until recently that Dr. Campsey heard PTSD described as “when anything happens to you that you don’t want to happen to you.” After that, he says it began to make a lot more sense. Despite that, his recovery moved along quickly.
“I felt well enough to go back to work at three weeks, and I went back to work at three weeks. I’m not saying I would do that again, I think it was way too early. But I had to get out of the house, I needed something to do.”Dr. Michael Campsey, M.D., Chief of Cardiology at Wheeling Hospital
Campsey says strokes can happen to anyone, and that it happens more often than you think. His advice is to eat as well as you can, maintain a healthy weight, exercise, get enough sleep, and keep an eye on your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol.
When asked if his healty lifestyle leading up to the stroke allowed him to recovery as quickly as he did, Dr. Campsey said simply, “no doubt.”
The 2022 Ohio Valley Heart Walk is this Thursday at Wheeling Park. Check in is at 5:30 with the walk beginning at 6. You can register for the event here. I will also be emceeing the event.