Stroke survivor shares his story, encourages others to seek help

SPOKANE, Wash. — A Spokane man says he feels lucky to be alive after suffering from a stroke last March. However, he says his progress wouldn’t be possible without seeking medical help.

“It is the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced in my life,” said Gary Mortlock.

It’s a day Mortlock says he’ll always remember.

“At 4:31 a.m., I’m sitting at the edge of the bed and all I can get out is ‘Help Rhonda. Something is wrong.’,” he said.

Mortlock doesn’t know what was scarier, suffering from a stroke, or the thought of not being there for his wife Rhonda after 43 years of marriage.

“As my wife is saying, ‘This is it? We’re two years away from retirement and now I’m going to have to dress you and feed you?’,” he said.

Thankfully his wife acted quickly, calling an ambulance right away.

“I’m blessed that people knew what to do and that I was in the time factor that is so huge for recovery from stroke,” said Mortlock.

That’s not always the case. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4 in 10 U.S. adults avoided seeking medical care during the pandemic.

“When the lockdown first happened nationwide we saw a huge decrease in the number of people coming in out of fears of COVID,” said Dr. Madeleine Geraghty, a stroke neurologist with MultiCare Deaconess Hospital.

Geraghty says she hopes Mortlock’s story will provide peace of mind for those who are nervous to seek medical help.

“Hit the button and call 911 and come in and do not let fears of COVID deter you,” said Geraghty.

Thanks to that call, Gary and his wife now have plenty of years of retirement to look forward to together.

“To be on this end and to be as healthy as I am. I’m lucky,” said Mortlock.

For more information on stroke awareness, click here.