Keith Washington had a few more brush strokes to go before finishing a painting for a friend. However, the 55-year-old couldn’t complete it because of a stroke.
Close in age to Hollywood TV star Luke Perry, 52, who died recently of a stroke, Washington considers himself “blessed” for a much different result from his medical emergency.
Washington, a self-taught artist, has made tremendous strides in his recovery since his stroke last summer. He’s even managed to put the finishing touches on the painting—a scenic landscape where a couple shared their first kiss 70 years ago. For a time, painting seemed out of the question for him.
He could barely talk or walk following his stroke. Through his medical treatment and rehabilitation care at Harris Health System’s Ben Taub Hospital, he regained his ability to talk and walk, and most importantly—use of his hands for painting.
“My body was attacked, but I didn’t let it affect my mind,” he says of his determination to recover. “I knew I would recover. I kept my mind strong so I could pull through my physical defects.” I stayed focus on God’s promise that was no weapon formed against me shall prosper.
In July 2018, Washington went to a dentist for a tooth extraction, but could not get the procedure done because of extremely high blood pressure. He went to Harris Health’s Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital to get it checked out and was eventually sent home when it subsided. He later felt a “chill” that continued through the night.
Doctors say it was, in fact, his first sign of a stroke.
The next day, Washington felt ill. He and his wife Wanda went to Ben Taub Hospital, a nationally recognized stroke center, where other symptoms—twitchy eyes, tingling right arm and numbness of the right leg—further developed during his emergency center visit.
A team of stroke specialists and nurses quickly rushed him to treatment and kept him in the hospital for more than a week. Almost immediately, rehabilitation staff began helping him regain his old self.
“It was a miracle,” he says of his recovery.
Soon after leaving the hospital, he completed the painting—using it as part of his rehab to strengthen his arms and hands.
“With a stroke, time lost is brain lost, and we have a commitment as an award-winning comprehensive stroke center to provide aggressive, proven stroke care,” says Dr. Joseph Kass, chief, Neurology, Ben Taub Hospital and professor, Neurology, Psychiatry and Medical Ethics, Baylor College of Medicine.
Washington’s recovery was remarkable and a true collaboration between him and his caregivers.
“They taught me what I needed and what I had to do for recovery,” he says. “Having a staff that truly cares about my recovery makes all difference in the world.”
Washington, who credits various artists with helping him hone his artistic ability, is nearly fully recovered. He’s focusing more energy on painting and is expanding his home shed into an art studio.
He offers some advice for anyone suspecting stroke symptoms.
“If you love yourself, get yourself checked out,” he says. “If you have some kind of symptom that is not normal to you, go to the hospital. The next 10 minutes of your life might not be promised to you.”
RAPID CITY, SD: World War II Veterans from across the Black Hills gather for annual luncheon https://t.co/XsO0DewfB1 via @NewsCenter1
Connecticut: West Haven Memorial Day parade to be led by Vietnam Veteran https://t.co/Fu8JWSJP6l via @nhregister
RT @FOX26Houston: UTHealth preps for approaching hurricane season https://t.co/Pk4HLVM4ny https://t.co/QoNMZxmcID
Today we honor Navy SEAL Veteran Scott Wirtz in remembrance of his service and sacrifice for our country. https://t.co/rkkOXObR3P #VeteranOfTheDay #CarryTheLoad #NoVeteranEverDies
10% of patients are admitted to MD Anderson with #pneumonia. Our @ScottEvansMD is working to protect #cancer patients from this and other lung diseases with a new aerosol treatment: https://t.co/Pbn9mjV7FT @CancerFrontline #endcancer
@obstudiotexas We appreciate your feedback and have shared your concern with the appropriate contact person.
RT @UHpres: After beating Texas A&M, Cougar Softball beats Sam Houston...will play winner of UT/TAMU tomorrow at chance to win out Texas Re…
RT @UHCougarSB: BALL GAMEEEEE!!!!!!!! @presbell17 retires the side in order and completes the shutout victory!!#hoUSton #GoCoogs https://…
RT @NCAAsoftball: The Coogs are heading to the Regional Finals for the first time since 2011! @UHCougarSB blanks Sam Houston State, 5-0, an…
Help give hope to patients against end-stage illnesses by investing in cancer research. Learn how you can help: https://t.co/4T5JCqKmZm #giving https://t.co/vFmZoE73jN
“We’re exploring the tremendous opportunities to understand the immune system and turn it against #prostatecancer tumors,” says our Dr. Filippo Giancotti. #pcsm #CancerMoonshot #endcancer https://t.co/kSvhY7RLR6
Congratulations to this year’s @MDA_UTHGrad graduates! We are proud of all that you’ve accomplished and look forward to seeing all that you do to #endcancer and advance the biomedical sciences in the years ahead. https://t.co/lWYhJk3zLd
CHI St. Luke's Health@CHI_StLukes
Cramps, bloating, mood swings... #PMS can be a pain, so check out some of our favorite tips for easing the discomfort: https://t.co/kRYPi3shyx #NWHW #WomensHealthWeek https://t.co/9FYXvDjXtD
Tiny object, BIG project. How a Rice photographer captured the perfect shot for the cover of @sciencemagazine: https://t.co/lvgpYNfXLm https://t.co/5sPrElM1Lw
Harris Health System@harrishealth
LBJ Hospital celebrated #NationalHospitalWeek with an ice cream sundae bar, popcorn, photo booth day and salsa tasting contest. https://t.co/9slCsNDHM3