Heart & Vascular

Lavada’s Story: Back to Playing Piano After a Stroke

May 29 2019
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The notes may not come as quickly as they once did, but Lavada Poynter is thankful for the beautiful melody coming from her piano as she plays an original composition. These days Lavada only has full use of two fingers on her right hand, but there was a time she though she’d never walk again, much less play her beloved piano.

“Before I had this last stroke in February, I’d written a song,” she explains. “I’m not going to let the devil defeat me. The Lord gave me the song and I’m going to do it.”

Lavada comes from a family with a history of heart and vascular issues and she has not been immune, suffering her first stroke a decade ago. It was during her most recent stroke where the quick action of her family and the care she received led to a remarkable recovery.

Fast action from family

Lavada had just returned home following 22 days in a skilled nursing facility for another medical issue when she and her husband Steve sat down for dinner.

“Steve could tell by just looking at me something was wrong, but I didn’t know it,” Lavada says. “I thought I’d taken too big a bite and was choking. About that time he looked at me and said ‘you’re having a stroke.’ I couldn’t even get up from the table. He had to help me up.”

Steve called their son, who along with his wife rushed to the house. Lavada’s daughter-in-law is a nurse, and together the family was able to quickly realize the issue was serious. They called for an ambulance right away.

Poynter was brought to Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital where she received Alteplase, a clot-buster.

“Lavada was fortunate her family reacted so quickly,” says Stroke Coordinator Kathy Skaggs, BSN, RN. “The medication can only be offered to patients who are within a three-hour window of symptom onset. Seeking early treatment is paramount.  Unfortunately, many patients who arrive at our ER seek medical help long after that three-hour window. This limits the treatments that are available.”

Road to recovery

“Through the help of the Lord and Bellefonte Hospital you wouldn’t believe how much better I am,” Lavada says of her recovery. She is showering herself and often moves about without the assistance of her walker. At 74, Lavada feels better now than she has in years.

She tears up thinking of what could have been and how the love of her family made the difference in her outcome. She’s equally as quick when it comes to offering advice to others who exhibit signs of stroke.

“You got to get to that hospital,” she said. “I give the glory to my Lord above first, but thanks to everyone at Bellefonte Hospital for what they did for me.”


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