“Ellen, do I sound like I’m slurring my words?” asked
Julia Rush during a phone call with sister, Ellen Atkins of Colombia,
MO. “Yes, Julia – you do,” said Atkins.
Having a stroke was not the way famed local artist Julia Rush, 73 expected
to recover from a total left hip replacement December 2014. It was just
eight days following that surgery and her partner Arne Troelstra, also
noticed a drop in the left side of Rush’s face. Immediately, they
called an ambulance, which arrived within minutes. The emergency medical
response team inquired about Rush’s hospital of choice.
“Even though Frye is just five blocks from my home, I insist they
take me to Catawba Valley Medical Center,” said Rush. Julia’s
late husband, Beemer Harrell, a well-known Hickory architect passed away
at CVMC six years ago of a massive stroke. The care he and the family
received that day left a positive and lasting impression on Rush.
At CVMC, Rush learned she had suffered a right hemisphere mini-stroke or
transient ischemic attack (TIA) caused by a blood clot that was stopping
the blood flow to her brain. She was told that she could thank her body’s
own clot-busting mechanism for the fact that she doesn’t have permanent
or debilitating damage.
“I don’t consider what I had a “mini-stroke,” said
Rush. “To me, a TIA is a warning stroke – a warning I take
According to the American Stroke Association, about a third of patients
who experience TIA, go on to have a stroke within the following year.
Rush has several other medical conditions that add to that risk.
“Julia is a golden example of how CVMC’s investment in advanced
technology helps avoid delays in potentially life-saving situations,”
said Robert Yapundich, MD, a Neurologist and CVMC Stroke Program Manager.
“There is no way to predict when a clot will dissolve on its own,
so time is critical.“
After just two days in CVMC In-Patient Rehabilitation Unit, Julia was discharged
and allowed to go home to her second-floor loft in the brick building
that bears her name in Hickory’s Union Square. A home evaluation
was performed prior to her return by CVMC Occupational Therapy to review
her daily living tasks and recommend modifications to optimize her home
environment for safety.
Although Rush currently walks with a cane, she has achieved numerous rehabilitation
goals. She makes jewelry, maintains a very busy social life and traveling.
Motivated by fear of having another stroke, Julia strictly adheres to
her physical therapy plan, exercises frequently follows her medication
regimen and embrace healthy eating.