Dale Flanagan

“I’ve got a lot of living to do.”

That’s a direct quote from 71-year-old Dale Flanagan, a Kansas City resident who has a renewed outlook on life following a health scare on April 6, 2010.

Flanagan loved to eat greasy fried foods such as chicken, French fries and cheeseburgers.  The salt shaker was a regular dining companion, and Flanagan slathered butter on rolls, baked potatoes and toast.  He didn’t stop to think of the consequences his diet choices might have on his health.

Flanagan was on the job at KC Drive Away where he delivers cars purchased at auction that early spring Tuesday morning in April. He was in a company van, being driven from the office to get a vehicle for delivery. Flanagan was busy transferring numbers onto a daily worksheet and chatting with the van’s driver when suddenly his hand became immobile, along with other disturbing physical symptoms.

“I couldn’t write, move my right side or talk,” recalls Flanagan.  “I was aware that something was terribly wrong but couldn’t communicate anything to the driver.”

Flanagan’s colleague quickly returned to the office, where she placed a 9-1-1 call; the paramedics arrived within minutes.  Flanagan, who says for a split second he recovered feeling in the right side of his body, was taken to Research Medical Center and wheeled into the ER, where the stroke team immediately went into action.

“My whole body felt like a dead weight when I got to Research Medical Center’s ER,” says Flanagan.  “Even though I couldn’t talk to the doctors and nurses, I sensed they knew what was happening.”

Flanagan was having a stroke and time was of the essence.  Consulting neurologist at Research Medical Center, Iftekhar Ahmed, MD, wanted to give Flanagan tPA, a drug that when administered within three hours of having a stroke can help break up blood clots.  Dr. Ahmed, the medical director of Midwest Stroke Care at Research Medical Center, was recognized recently by an international society of neurologists in Nice, France, for his work in the area of strokes and has worked with hundreds of patients like Flanagan.

Flanagan’s wife, Deanne, arrived at Research Medical Center and signed a permission slip that authorized Dr. Ahmed to give her husband tPA.  Within an hour, Flanagan was talking and was able to move his right leg and arm.  Once Flanagan was stabilized, Dr. Ahmed ordered a battery of tests for his patient.  He discovered a severe blockage in Flanagan’s carotid artery and called in Joe Cates, MD, a Kansas City Vascular and General Surgery surgeon at Research Medical Center.

Dr. Cates operated on Flanagan and showed him the substance that was blocking his artery.  That visual made an impact on Flanagan, who immediately vowed to practice healthy eating and exercise.  

“The best thing anyone can do if they’re experiencing the warning signs of a stroke is to get to your nearest accredited stroke and heart attack center,” stresses Flanagan, whose daughter is a registered nurse at Lee’s Summit Medical Center and is helping her dad understand the importance of good health.

Flanagan, his wife, daughter and family were pleased with the proactive treatment their husband and father received at Research Medical Center, the only healthcare facility in the Greater Kansas City area to receive the Get With The Guidelines® Heart Failure/Stroke/Coronary Artery Disease Triple Gold Performance Achievement Award from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association. Fewer than 20 hospitals nationally have received this recognition.

Now Flanagan, a proud grandfather, enjoys playing ball with his grandchildren and is back to a normal schedule of work and activities.  “I get out on the golf course and take walks with Deanne,” says Flanagan, who has lost 10 pounds since the April stroke. “I even like the lighter version of a meatloaf my wife prepares and don’t miss the salt shaker.”

Flanagan plans to lose another 25 pounds, maintain his ideal weight, and make his friends and family aware of the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

“There’s a lot I still want to do in life,” says Flanagan.