Rodney's Story: Stroke Survivor | Western Missouri Medical Center

 Stroke survivor Rodney Higgins and his wife, Donna

Recognizing the Signs

Rodney Higgins woke up at 1:30 am on October 22, 2018, with leg cramps. Although uncomfortable, not anything unusual, he walked it off and went back to bed.

Donna, Rodney’s wife, woke up that morning to go to her regular volunteer shift at the hospital that day. As Rodney got up with her, he noticed that the left side of his face felt different. When he went to the bathroom to examine his face in the mirror, the left side of his face was noticeably drooping.

Immediately he knew he had a stroke. Not wanting to alarm Donna, he told her that he didn’t feel well. However, Donna took one look at him and after hearing his slurred speech knew exactly what was happening. She called 9-1-1 and Rodney was rushed to Western Missouri Medical Center’s (WMMC) Emergency Department.

Receiving Lifesaving Care

WMMC is a Level III Stroke Center which means that the Emergency Department meets the standards to provide definite and timely treatment for stroke patients. Rodney says that he remembers being rushed into the hospital and as he looked up there were three nurses on each side of him, moving quickly to get him the care and medicine that he needed.

“I was extremely impressed with how fast they moved,” Rodney stated. “I later found out that it is essential in a stroke that you get the medicine you need.”

Strokes occur when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and vital nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or ruptures. When this happens, part of the brain is deprived of blood and oxygen, destroying millions of valuable nerve cells within minutes. Medication needs to be administered to the patient within a certain amount of time after the stroke. This time is referred to as the “Golden Hour.” The sooner the medication is administered, the less brain that is lost and chances at recovery improve significantly.

After nurses and doctors moved him swiftly through the Emergency Department, he was given the medication within the “Golden Hour” of discovering his stroke. He quickly stabilized at WMMC and was then life-flighted to Saint Luke’s where he stayed for 10 days for recovery.

“I think the way the Emergency Department has improved is fantastic. There is just no comparison.” Donna says. “Rodney got such good care. They kept me informed, and he got fast care.”

Knowing the Symptoms

When Donna and Rodney were asked how they both immediately knew Rodney was having a stroke, their answer was clear. They both were educated on F.A.S.T. Donna explained she had learned the signs from being a volunteer at WMMC, and knowing F.A.S.T. taught her what to look for in stroke patients.

FAST: Stroke Warning Signs and Symptoms

F – Is the person’s face drooping?

A – Can the person lift both arms?

S – Is the person slurring speech?

T – Time lost is brain lost, call 911 immediately.

Additional stroke symptoms include sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the face or body, confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech, trouble seeing, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, and severe and sudden headache.

If any of these symptoms come suddenly, you should visit your local emergency department. Find out more about WMMC’s Emergency Department.

Rehab and Recovery

Rodney is grateful to be in recovery and doing well after his stroke. He continues to see Dr. Olds from Saint Luke’s monthly during his recovery, and he receives rehab therapy twice a week with Angela, Eric, and Kelly. When asked where he wanted to receive rehab treatment, he immediately said WMMC’s Rehab Center and complimented about how great the staff was.

Rodney's Story: Stroke Survivor
Rodney's Story: Stroke Survivor

At 84 years old, and two months post stroke, Rodney is functioning almost as well as he was before his stroke. Rodney and Donna are grateful to have known the signs of a stroke and want more people to be educated on the symptoms.

Help the Higgins achieve their mission of educating others by sharing this post!

Other Recent Posts by WMMC:

Wendy’s Story: Overcoming Triple Negative Breast Cancer

Talk2Me, a Mental Health Crisis Texting Hotline

WMMC’s Foundation Event Raises $50,000 for Cancer Care Project

About Western Missouri Medical Center

Western Missouri Medical Center (WMMC) is a fully-accredited acute care county medical center located in Warrensburg, MO. WMMC prides itself in emergency care, obstetrics, orthopedic and general surgery, family healthcare, internal medicine, outpatient clinics, ambulatory care, rehabilitation services and more. Inpatient services include medical, surgical, intensive, obstetrical, orthopedic, pediatric and skilled nursing care, as well as a wide range of therapeutic and diagnostic outpatient services. This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer. Learn more at


Contact: Tara Carlyle
System Director of Communications and Development
(660) 262-7497