An avid hiker, traveler and golfer, Travis Mattox is active and enjoys the outdoors. In April 2017, he was more active than ever, frequently hitting the gym with his fiancée, Amy Gattermeir, as the 2 prepared to look and feel their best for their wedding, just 5 weeks away.
But a health crisis struck that threatened to take it all.
With Amy out of state enjoying a pre-wedding girls' weekend, Travis, then 41, relaxed at home with the couple's Great Dane, Matty. Travis turned in late that Friday night and woke early Saturday to let the dog out.
"As soon as I got up, I felt something was wrong," Travis says. "My legs felt funny, almost like they were asleep. It's hard to explain, but I just didn't feel normal."
At the front door, Travis struggled to punch the home security system code into the keypad. After finally managing to disengage the alarm and let Matty out, Travis decided to return to bed and sleep off the strange sensations. But when he awoke 2 hours later, the symptoms hadn't abated. He decided to go to the hospital.
"I don't know why I didn't call 911," Travis says. He made it to his car, where pressing the button on the garage door opener clipped to his visor proved almost impossible. He finally did it and somehow drove to the nearest emergency room.
"I was so lucky," Travis says. "The doctor on duty had done his residency at The University of Kansas Health System. He recognized I was having a stroke and transferred me immediately."
Advanced, comprehensive care
Less than an hour later, stroke neurologist Colleen Lechtenberg, MD, director of the stroke program at The University of Kansas Health System's Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center, met Travis' ambulance upon its arrival. She and neuro-interventionalist John Madarang, MD, together reviewed Travis' CT angiogram and CT perfusion images to determine the best course of action.
Dr. Madarang recommended removing the clot causing the stroke.
"Travis' waxing and waning symptoms indicated we had the opportunity to stop the damage the stroke was causing and reduce its effects," Dr. Madarang says. "As Travis was a young, strong person, we decided to take aggressive action. Allowing the clot to remain was to allow the stroke to continue causing damage, risking complete paralysis on one side or the inability to speak."
Dr. Madarang used state-of-the-art stent retrieval devices, maneuvering the technology up to the brain through a small puncture in the groin. The surgical procedure was successful, yet could not undo all of the stroke's effects. In the immediate aftermath, Travis was unable to speak and experienced limited mobility on his right side.
Once Travis was stabilized, neurologist Michael Rippee, MD, stepped in to oversee ongoing care.