Doug Norby has had a long history with the health care system in Grand Forks, starting with his birth at Deaconess Hospital in 1950. Doug followed that with numerous surgeries over his life including triple bypass heart surgery and valve replacement surgery 11 years ago. However, this year proved to be the most challenging.
It started with a prostate cancer diagnosis and a short number of radiation treatments. It was Doug’s first time being a patient at Altru Cancer Center, and he was very impressed. Although seeing the difficulties that cancer patients go through was an eye-opening experience for him, he was inspired by the care and compassion he witnessed and experienced with the Cancer Center staff. In fact, Doug delivered Widman’s chippers on his last appointment to make sure they knew how much he appreciated their care.
Just six weeks later Doug was to experience more care at Altru when he had a stroke. He had been feeling as though things weren’t “quite right”, and he remembered how Dr. Eric Bakke, a recently retired family medicine provider, had sent him right to the cardiologist 11 years earlier when he mentioned to him that his legs felt heavy.
Doug made an appointment with his new general practitioner, Dr. Karin Lokensgard for the afternoon of January 31st. The morning of Jan. 31st at 11:15, while at work, he tried to sort papers and noticed his hand wasn’t working well. He dropped some and found he couldn’t move to pick them up. Then he slipped out of his chair onto the floor and couldn’t move anything on his right side. He sat for a few moments, and then called out for his wife, Sandy.
When she saw him, she was certain that Doug was having a stroke. Sandy dialed 911 and from that point on, everything went exactly as you pray for it to go when faced with an emergency. While his son Matt kept Doug calm, the 911 operator asked Sandy questions to help the medical personnel. The Norby’s staff got their portable defibrillator ready in case that was needed. Within minutes the EMTs from the Grand Forks Police, Grand Forks Fire Department and the Altru Ambulance crew arrived. Sandy reported how calm and safe they felt once Doug was in the care of the Altru Emergency Team, even though Doug couldn’t speak or move anything on his right side at that point.
The ambulance team rushed to the hospital, communicating with the emergency room what had happened.
“All of a sudden, I’m on the table in the emergency room and the members of the Altru stroke team are rushing in to start treating me.” Sandy and Matt along with Doug’s other sons-in-law, Dr. Jeremy Gardner, and Mike Mallory and daughters Sadie and Emily and Pastor Tom Colenso crowded into the room.
Still unable to see out of his right eye, move his right arm or leg, or speak clearly, the care team continued evaluating him and preparing treatment. All of a sudden, Doug noticed that he could see, and just as quickly his ability to speak and the movement on his right side came back.
Sandy believes she witnessed a miracle, and the whole family knows Doug is a very Lucky Man. At 5:00 p.m. Doug was in a hospital bed joking with his four grandchildren and the rest of his family.
“I was relieved when the rehabilitation practitioner came in and said that I can, and should, work-out as long as I don’t push too hard. I was cleared to go to work the next Monday. I can talk and I can think – I’m a pretty lucky guy!”
A couple weeks after the stroke, Doug is feeling good. He is thankful for Altru and the compassionate and dedicated staff that has been there to take care of him through same-day surgeries, critical life-saving surgeries, cancer treatment and now emergency care treatment for his stroke.
“I don’t ever remember a bad experience of any kind at Altru. I have had excellent nurses; the doctors were great, and I was happy to know we have a dedicated stroke team—since I am living proof that they know what they are doing!” Yes, Doug Norby is a Lucky Man.