"They had a plan for me from the moment I hit the door."
A physical therapist by trade, Curt feels a greater connection to some of the patients who he works with. That's because he was in their shoes as a stroke patient himself not long ago.
"It started off with profound dizziness and nausea, my left side went numb, and I had a hard time speaking," he says. "So I told my assistant, who helped me call 911. I recognized right away I was having a stroke."
Curt went first to a nearby hospital. It soon became clear he would need more advanced care, so he was transferred to UPMC Hamot. There, he received lifesaving care from UPMC Hamot's Comprehensive Stroke Center and neurointerventionalist, Charles Romero, MD.
"It seemed to me like they had a plan for me from the moment I hit the door," he says. "I don't think my gurney ever stopped from the time I arrived there, from testing, right to Dr. Romero in the cath lab. That saved my life. It was amazing.
“The most wonderful words I ever heard was when Dr. Romero said, 'There, I got it.'"
The team provided care once again after Curt suffered another stroke while he was recovering in the hospital.
Now, nearly two years later, he loves spending time with his wife and family. They ride bikes, hike, and walk their dogs together. An outdoorsman, Curt also hunts and fishes. And as an Ironman athlete, he hopes to compete in another triathlon someday.
"You've got to keep pushing forward," he says. "I don't quit. I still do my neurological exercises. I still do my visual exercises because they make me feel better."
Curt says the entire experience also helped to make him a better rehab therapist. He says he listens more and is more compassionate. In addition to focusing on a patient's physical well-being, he also helps them with what they're going through mentally.
"I think the main thing that I tell patients is a stroke or neurological event like this, it's forever," he says. "I mean, it changes you. You, sitting there right as you are right now, you're a product of your life history. And now we've got this life-changing event called a stroke. It changes you.
"We'd all like to go exactly back to what we were, and nobody can promise you that, but we can promise that life gets better the more you go."
At UPMC, Life Changing Medicine means getting back to what you love doing.
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