About Amy Umble:
Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star

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In times of stress, the mind apparently prefers the commonplace

Andrea McCauley

Andrea McCauley is just about the last person you would expect to have a stroke. She’s 43, a regular at her gym, the mother of three and a prosecutor for Stafford County.

Yet there she was on the floor of her courthouse office, earlier this year, with a major stroke. She was unable to speak or use her right side when a Stafford County rescue crew took her to the stroke center at Mary Washington Hospital. There she received a clot-busting drug called tPA and has made a complete recovery.

The events of that January morning were frightening, McCauley said. But when she looks back on them, she’s amazed at the odd things that popped into her head while she was being treated. Death and/or disability may be standing at the door, but the mind apparently prefers the commonplace.

For example, McCauley’s attack happened on a Friday morning at the start of a holiday weekend. As squad members were tending to her, she thought, “I can’t believe my whole beautiful, long weekend is gone.”

In the ER, the staff needed to know how much she weighed, so with family and friends watching, they began the process by placing her in a sling, and, in her words, “lifted me out of bed like some barn animal.”

She laughs about it now, but remembers thinking at the time: “How horrible. Everyone in this room is going to know what I weigh. Couldn’t they be slightly more considerate?”

(McCauley will be featured Sunday in a story about her stroke. Look for her on the cover of the Health Living section, talking about her treatment and recovery–and her surprise engagement in the emergency room.)