Late one evening, Dawn Berry took a call from her grandmother’s nursing home. Her grandmother had been found unresponsive in bed. What should they do?
Dawn, who was then 43, had worked in the medical field for more than 20 years in her hometown of Oklahoma City. When her grandmother had a severe stroke at home a few months earlier, Dawn’s aunts and uncles authorized her to make medical decisions. Now she made another: Send Grandma to the emergency room.
Dawn arrived around 9 p.m. Awake most of the night coordinating care, she was talking to a doctor about her grandmother – who was having complications from the stroke – when Dawn felt the room start spinning. By now it was around 5 a.m. She blamed the episode on stress.
After going home to rest, she returned to her grandmother’s bedside. She felt a little off balance, but again dismissed it as stress and exhaustion.
Later that week, Dawn still felt unsteady. At one point, she tilted to the right and began falling. She might’ve hit the ground had her cousins not been there to catch her.
The next morning, she started cooking French toast for her daughter, Izzy Berry-Northcutt, and her sister, Dana Berry. The three live together. The right side of Dawn’s face felt odd. She touched it and couldn’t feel anything. She dug her nails into her neck. Still nothing.
“Dana, I think I had a stroke,” she said.
At the hospital, bloodwork and a CT scan showed no problems. Still, she was admitted for observation and further testing.
The next day – Jan. 12, 2020 – an MRI showed she’d had a stroke. Two, actually; the other occurred at