Getting back to Jack: Stroke patient shares story of recovery

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Published: Jun. 3, 2023 at 1:24 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - 56-year-old Jack Mazzilli is the kind of guy who’s always there to lend a helping hand.

“If my neighbors need help or they need tools or need me to fix something, I’m always there for them. I mean that’s the kind of person I am. I’m a jokester.”

A husband of 30 years and father to two sons, the New York native has a special connection with the community.

He’s worked as a FedEx driver for more than 3 decades.

“It’s amazing how you get to know these people, and they become very friendly with you, and they get to know me,” says Mazzilli.

“One of my customers said to me he said, there will never be another Jack.”

But on New Year’s Day—Jack’s life--- changed.

A few hours after going to bed the night before---he felt something wasn’t right.

“I felt weird, I felt off, and I laid in bed and I said—come look at my fingers.”

Jack’s wife Linda sprang into action.

“It was early in the morning, about 6:30—and I knew right away. I panicked, and right away I called my neighbors from across the street because there was no way I was going to be able to get him down the stairs by myself,” says Linda.

Linda says he had been having bad headaches for a few weeks.

“I thought maybe I was tired, I didn’t know I was having a stroke,” says Jack.

Once he was rushed to the hospital --doctors ran several tests to try and determine the cause of the stroke.

“When I was in the hospital, it was all black and white, it was all in and out. They checked my heart, they said my heart was fine.”

Dr. David Kopel of Lexington Neurology was a part of the team who helped treat Jack.

“He had some speech issues and then he came in and was found to have a stroke on his brain imaging. So for him, one of the big questions was really what happened that caused the stroke.”

Dr. Kopel says a small blood clot was to blame.

“In this case, he had what we call a small vessel stroke, so in other words, a tiny little blood vessel that implies a small part, a small important part of the brain ended up getting occluded. So it wouldn’t have been possible to remove that clot from that small of an artery.”

Jack says he wishes he knew the signs.

“I didn’t know what the symptoms were.”

In fact—according to the American Heart Association---someone in the U.S. dies from a stroke every 3 minutes and 17 seconds.

To help make sure individuals know how to spot a stroke, they recommend to be “BE FAST.”

B-Balance, loss of balance, headache, or dizziness

E-Eyes, blurred vision

F-Face, facial drooping

A-Arms, Arm weakness

S-Speech, Slurred or difficult speech

T-Time, Call 911 immediately

Jack’s now on his road to recovery, going to rehab four times a week and taking medications to keep him stable.

“On a scale from 0 to 10, I’m at a 20. Whatever they told me to do, I’d try to do more. Telling me, you really want to get out of here, I’m like yea I want to get out, I want to get better.”

Determined to get back to the Jack he once knew.

“That was me, hopefully, I’ll get it back. That’s what my goal is. It makes me feel good, I mean everyone is so supportive, she’s my rock right there. I’m very optimistic about my life, getting better. As long as I keep pushing.”

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