Justin Lanners remembers the exact day of his stroke. "April 18, 2017," he says. "It was a Tuesday." That day, Justin awoke at 5 a.m. with what he describes as a "weird buzzing noise" in his right ear. Still half-awake, Justin tuned out the buzzing as he made his way to an upstairs bathroom. "I didn't have a lot of balance, which I thought was really weird," he tells us. "Then, as I was standing there in the bathroom, I fell against our linen closet."
Justin picked himself up of the floor and sat down just in time for his wife, Katie, to walk in. "She instantly knew something was wrong," he tells us. "Then I started slurring my words and vomiting." Katie called 911. "The fire department was the first to get there," Justin says. "Our two older kids woke up at that point."
From there, the details are a bit murky for Justin. "I don't remember a whole lot," he says. "I don't remember them carrying me down our stairs, the ride to Saint Marys Hospital, or even which floor I was taken to after being transferred out of the Emergency Department."
What he does remember is the "phenomenal" team of doctors and nurses who helped stabilize him and help him recover after confirming the then-37-year-old payroll analyst at Mayo Clinic had suffered a stroke. "I couldn't have asked for a better care team or better patient care experience," he tells us. "I don't remember a lot of their names, but I do remember everything they did for me."
That "everything" included getting him back on his feet as soon as he was physically able. "My team of physical and occupational therapists wanted to get me up and moving again as soon as possible," he says. "I started out with a walker and kept that for a few weeks before I was able to start walking somewhat on my own. They started me out with a five-minute walk three times a day with a goal of building up to 30 minutes one to three times a day."
It was in the midst of all that walking that Justin thought about a goal he'd set for himself before the stroke. "I'd been thinking about doing a marathon," he tells us. "That's still very much on my bucket list, but after my stroke, I decided walking a half-marathon would probably be a better goal for me at this point."
So after being discharged, Justin began walking and training as his health allowed, setting his sights on this year's We Walk Half-Marathon on Sept. 21 in Mayer, Minnesota. His hard work paid off. He finished first in his age group. As he came down the home stretch, Justin says he was energized by one special show of support. "My family all came and surprised me," he tells us. "The kids came running up to me holding their signs and cheering me on. It was pretty overwhelming."
All made possible by Justin's drive and determination, coupled with that of his care team at Mayo Clinic. "With my job in payroll, I don't see the patient care side of things, but having now been on that side of the business has made me so much more thankful to work for such a great organization that does everything it can to live up to the value of the needs of the patient come first," he says. "Every member of my care team truly cared about my health. I really can't say enough about them. They were phenomenal and, along with my wife, instrumental in getting me to where I am today."
Do something instrumental by sharing your comments below before using the social media tools atop this page to share this story with others.