Steve’s Journey: From Stroke to Recovery
Alachua County sheriffs are highly trained in firearms and diligent about safety precautions, but mixing in a medical emergency during shooting practice took everyone by surprise. Dozens of first responders suddenly were called on to save one of their own, who suffered a stroke during shooting practice. Follow Steve through his journey, from his life threatening moments to an outpouring of support and finally a journey back that would change his life forever.
When I woke up, it was devastation.
My name is Steve Maynard. I'm a law enforcement officer here in Alachua County.
Well it was really a normal day, what I thought was a normal day. It was April 10th of 2017.
I was getting ready for work; I was working specifically in the training bureau, and I was going to actually shoot that day.
As a law enforcement officer we train routinely; obviously firearms is one portion of the training, and things took a drastic turn.
Literally, I was on the firing range and I got a sensation, immediately, that I was getting weak, and I felt like that I was losing my strength, and my strength specifically on the left side of my body. And when that happened, I recognized pretty quick that something was was very serious.
I was able to re-holster my firearm. I turned away to the trainers and mentioned to them that something serious had just happened to me.
At that point, I lost the ability to talk.
My other first responders, which I had 30 to 40 first responders with me at that time, they kind of knew what to expect, and they knew that it was likely a stroke.
I was what I thought was in perfect health. I would run half-marathons, you know, I was on the S.W.A.T. team at the Alachua County Sheriff's Office. So having a stroke was was quite a shock.
Brandon R. Allen, MD:
Captain Maynard's case was unique. There's only a handful of cases that you usually remember your entire career, and his is going to be one of them for me. When he came in he immediately went into one of our resuscitation bays. You could tell that he could understand what we were asking him, but he could not form any type of logical response. This part was really concerning to me, along with his agitation and how he really was refusing care, which I don't think was his norm.
And he was fighting IVs and fighting the group and we had to take control of that situation, and the best way to do that and get that CAT scan, which is really the best way to identify a stroke syndrome, was to sedate him and give him a breathing tube and put him on the ventilator.
Brenda Maynard, Steve's wife:
As soon as I arrived at the emergency room I was escorted directly to the stroke units. One of the first decisions that I needed to make when I arrived at the ER was to sign off to put my husband in a medically induced coma. It was a very scary situation, but reflecting back on that time, I'm so very grateful for their professionalism and the way they communicated with me, and they took quite a bit of time to show me and talk to me about the, the results of the CT scans and and what it looked to be as far as his next step for care.
Anna Khanna, MD:
Steve had an unknown and newly diagnosed clotting condition called Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome, which causes clots to form really anywhere in the body, and he had a clot that formed in an artery inside the brain and caused his stroke. Overall, he looked in a pretty poor neurological condition.
When I woke up, I wanted to communicate with my wife. I wanted to communicate with the doctors, I wanted to answer questions and I couldn't, I couldn't communicate. It was, it was gibberish that came out of my mouth, and I tried to communicate and write, and I couldn't, I couldn't write.
The only thing that went on the piece of paper was, literally, just like a line; basically it's all that came out. My ability to communicate in speech was at a level of maybe a kindergartner.
Steve had what we call is an Expressive Aphasia. He was able to comprehend, he was able to follow commands, but he was unable to express himself and allow people to understand what he was thinking and what he needed.
Well, emotionally, it was devastation for me, I mean it really was.
Every stroke patient is going to have some varying degree of depression. The onset could be really quick, you know, "Oh my gosh, you can't read, write or talk." It's pretty depressing. And then over a period of time you recognize that, this is not going to be like, you know, breaking a bone.
If you don't have some sort of support system in place, that's where the depression comes in. For a period of time, I didn't, didn't necessarily want to be there. That's what happens, I think, with a stroke patient is: You're not sure whether or not you really want to be here, and if you want to, you know ,continue on.
My identity is as a law enforcement officer; I've done this for almost 25 years. I lost my identity.
"I don't understand."
Nicole Ferrier, MA, CCC-SLP, CBIS:
Now read the word,
"I" - "I stone..."
Rehab plays such an important role, especially in the beginning recovery stage.
When Steve came to rehab and when he first saw me for speech therapy, he had a pretty severe aphasia. He was unable to read, he was unable to write. So we would practice naming pictures, we would practice describing photos.
"Shaller- her ta-ta-tailer - taaler."
These patients are needing intensive therapy daily, seven days a week, in order to recover from their stroke.
Daily, the doctor at UF Health, or doctors at UF Health, would show up and they would show me an object. And one of the objects that they showed me was a paper clip.
And i didn't know what it was. I could see it, I understood what it was used for, I just couldn't communicate it to you.
Extreme frustration. Extreme frustration on my part.
After probably a week, maybe two weeks; when they showed me that paper clip and I was able to say:
"Pa-per clip. Paper clip. Paper clip."
It clicked, and it clicked and I knew then that I could come back. And after a week of frustration and not being able to communicate, I knew I had the ability to bring it back.
At that point, I knew my timeline, you know, I knew that within a six-month period that you're going to get most of your gains. The doctors had communicated that to me.
Okay, so I've lost a week; lets rock and roll, i'm ready.
Steve was very fortunate to have Brenda as such an incredible support system.
She had past experience of being an educator and being a teacher. And so now she was using these,
you know, simplified books and activities that she was doing with her students; now she's doing it with her husband.
I spent a lot of years teaching students with autism and teaching them how to speak and how to communicate, and so thankfully I was able to use some of those previous skills that I had to work with my husband.
She was an instrument and of me coming back and I'm here.
The rehab folks at UF Health and my wife literally taught me my colors, the names of my family and my kids, how to speak again, how to interact and communicate with the rest of the world. They helped me get my identity back.
If it weren't for that support system, I don't know that I could have made it. And I hope and I pray for every other stroke patient that's out there has that support system.
He had incredible support, not only from his family but from his work family as well.
Brandon R. Allen, MD:
The first responders that were around Captain Maynard had a big impact on his prognosis and their recognition that something was wrong and getting him to our UF Health and a comprehensive stroke center impacted his potential disability.
There was a stroke team that was was ready. There was a an army of individuals, people that are professionals in how to take care of someone that is a stroke patient. It's not just the doctors on the stroke team, I can tell you that the compassion that I was given with the nurses, with the speech therapist who sat down hours and hours and hours to teach me to say a single word.
The compassion that they gave to me, not just me, to my wife and my family was instrumental in me being here today.
To date, I still have that paper clip. That paper clip symbolizes hope, and I had the ability to communicate back to the rest of the world.
I'm communicating with you today. I'm talking with you today.
I'm here and I was able to make it, and beat it.
My name's Steve Maynard. I'm a survivor of a stroke, and I'm here because of UF Health.