Published on May 16, 2022

Don't Think This Can't Happen to You

ER staff running with a stretcher

Jennifer Enochs

Last year was quite challenging for Jennifer Enochs, 58, of Tupelo. She lost both her husband, Robin, and her father. In July 2021, following the devastating losses, she traveled to Utah to spend time with family.

The morning after returning home, she awoke to a strange sensation. “When I woke up, I couldn’t move my right arm,” Jennifer says. “I thought it was just asleep, but then I fell out of bed trying to sit up.” She could not move the right side of her body nor speak, although she did not yet realize it.

When she didn’t show up to pick up her friend, Benny Barber, for work as usual, Benny became worried and called her neighbor, Terri Hughes. “Terri tried calling me—I remember taking my phone off the nightstand and just staring at it,” she says. “I heard the doorbell ring and Terri knocking on the window, but I couldn’t do anything. I just felt goofy.” When Terri used her key to enter Jennifer’s house, she found her in the floor unable to speak and called for an ambulance.

Time is critical with a stroke, because a stroke starves brain tissue of oxygen. “Terri called 9-1-1 and they got me to the hospital pretty quick,” she says. “That was the key.”

Doctors in North Mississippi Medical Center’s Emergency Department determined Jennifer had suffered an ischemic stroke—a blood clot was blocking blood flow to her brain. Interventional radiologist Dr. Jeff Howard performed a thrombectomy, a procedure to remove the blood clot and restore blood flow.

Shortly after the procedure, Jennifer was able to move her right side. Within a few hours she could say a word or two but had difficulty with multi-syllable words. Later that day, friends Leslie and Lauren Taylor came to check on her. Lauren prayed with Jennifer and when she finished praying, Jennifer said, “I love you.” Leslie exclaimed, “You just put three words together!”

After five days in the hospital, Jennifer was discharged home. She worked with physical, occupational and speech therapists at NMMC’s Outpatient Rehabilitation Center at Longtown Medical Park for several weeks. They worked on fine motor skills, strengthening, cognition and speech. Other than occasionally still searching for the appropriate word to use, the only real deficit that remains is her handwriting—which she describes as tiny and messy.

“I am extremely fortunate,” Jennifer says. “My friends got me the help I needed, and the ER folks took care of me quickly.” With no family history of stroke, no smoking, and excellent cholesterol levels and blood pressure, doctors can’t point to what caused Jennifer’s stroke.

“Don’t think this can’t happen to you just because everything looks okay,” Jennifer warns. Know the signs and symptoms and if you suspect stroke, call 9-1-1.

"I am extremely fortunate. My friends got me the help I needed, and the ER folks took care of me quickly."