He is proof that a stroke can strike at any age.
Last fall, Howard Washington, a sophomore from Buffalo and member of the S.U. Men’s Basketball team, suffered a stroke on campus. Well on the road to recovery, Howard’s proof that stroke can strike at any age.
He didn’t want to tell his story publicly until now, and did so with the help of Syracuse.com’s Mike Waters. The following is excerpted from their online account.
Wednesday, Sept. 26, was like any other day. Howard grabbed lunch before heading to a chemistry lecture.
When he left his class, he felt dizzy. He tried to take a sip of his iced tea and he missed his mouth.
“I thought to myself, what the heck is going on?” Howard recalls.
He was getting weak and losing feeling in his legs. He couldn’t feel the right side of his body. He said it felt like everything shut down.
Receiving help from two students in his chemistry class, Howard made it to a bench and called SU Men’s Basketball team trainer, Brad Pike.
“I don’t remember exactly what I said or what it sounded like. Brad said it sounded like mumbling, but what he got out of it was ‘Help’ and ‘Quad.’ That’s what he heard multiple times, just ‘Help’ and ‘Quad,'” Howard said.
When Public Safety Officer Andrew Clary made it to Howard, his speech was still slurred, he couldn’t feel the right side of his body, and his leg was limp. Officer Clary got him in the car and headed directly to Crouse Health’s Pomeroy Emergency Services.
The Comprehensive Stroke Center at Crouse Hospital
Once Howard arrived at Crouse, he was immediately seen by the Comprehensive Stroke Center team. He was met by Neurologist and Stroke Medical Director Tarakad Ramachandran, MD. It was determined he had two clots in his artery on the left side, leading to his brain.
Crouse Neurosurgeon David Padalino, MD, performed the procedure to remove the clots.
“He went in through the right side of my hip, threading all the way up my torso to my neck. There was a camera and this tiny device that looked like the claw in those machines where you try to grab the toy,” Howard described.
As Dr. Padalino removed the clot, Howard said he could feel tugging inside his head.
The Road to Recovery…and the Basketball Court
Howard had been working all summer to rehab his knee after an ACL injury so he could get back on the basketball court. He was cleared for full workouts on the first day of practice and felt good after a few practices…and then the stroke happened.
After the surgery to remove the blood clots and some testing, a small hole in Howard’s heart was discovered, which Crouse cardiologists Joseph Battaglia, MD, and Fafa Xexemeku, MD, closed through a procedure.
Howard immediately asked the doctors when he could play again. Just 33 days after his stroke, he was back on the court for the Orange against Eastern Michigan. Eventually, however, he decided to take a medical redshirt this year to continue to get healthy.
Howard says he has so much respect for Dr. Padalino. “I could have suffered permanent damage, but he found the clots and got them out.”
“It still sounds crazy to say I had a stroke,” Howard said. “I feel completely fine now. I’m back playing basketball again and I’m going to play next season. I can’t wait.”