Your Health Today Magazine

P.E. Teacher is REBOUNDING After Stroke

magazine Article

It couldn’t have been a stroke.

Tim Zambo was 32, a physical education teacher at Seckman High School. He kept fit and recently had completed a tough-as-nails obstacle race known as the Tough Mudder. So when he woke one morning in December 2013 to find his left arm and hand numb and useless, he phoned his mom, Linda. She advised him it was probably a pinched nerve and recommended he visit the urgent care.

“Looking back on it, there were some symptoms I just overlooked or didn’t realize were as severe,” Tim recalled. “I went into work to try and get someone to cover my classes. Once I got there I had this almost drunk feeling…off-balance and kind of loopy.”

Because he didn’t feel safe behind the wheel, Tim skipped the urgent care and went home for a nap. When he awoke and stood, he collapsed to the floor, hitting his head on the nightstand. After struggling for his phone, Tim called his mom, Linda Zambo, a now retired school secretary.

“I could hardly understand what he was saying, his speech was so slurred,” Linda Zambo recalled. “I just called 911 immediately and police officers and paramedics responded to his house and took him to St. Anthony’s.”

At the hospital, Linda and her husband, Bob, learned their son had suffered a stroke.

“We were just flabbergasted: was he going to get better again?” Linda Zambo said. “Everyone there took really, really good care of him.”

Tim had suffered an occlusion in his right middle cerebral artery and was past the window of opportunity for tPA. Interventional radiologist B. Kirke Bieneman, M.D., and his team performed a mechanical thrombectomy to remove the clot.

When he entered Acute Rehab after four days in the hospital, Tim required assistance from two people to stand and could walk only eight feet at a time with support from parallel bars. A month later, when he was discharged, he had progressed to walking 200 feet with crutches and supervision.

“I couldn’t have had a better situation or group of people to comfort and treat me,” Tim said. “It amazes me how special these individuals are and their passion for their job to help everyone get better.”

Tim was young and physically fit prior to the stroke, and motivated: all these factors weigh into successful outcomes, said his Acute Rehab doc, Jennifer Page, M.D. “Fortunately, he came to a facility that is stroke-certified and able to meet his stroke and rehab needs in a timely fashion,” Dr. Page said.

Tim continued his therapy on an outpatient basis, and in August, he returned to teaching. His outlook on life has changed.

“Don’t take things for granted, because in the blink of an eye your life can change,” he said. “Appreciate everything you have and all the people who invested in your life because they are valuable sources during the downtimes and dark days.”