A story of stroke survival

Submitted by UW Medicine

The Fudge Ladies of Lopez Island got to attend their first Major League Baseball game on May 19, thanks to the Mariners and an educational program called Strike Out Stroke.

MarJoe Davidson and Natalie Wilson operate Just Heavenly Fudge Factory, a fudge, ice cream and souvenir shop in Lopez Village. One night last winter, something went very wrong while Davidson was sleeping. A clot formed in her middle cerebral artery, which supplies blood to nearly half the brain. Perhaps her cat Pearl knew something was wrong, as she kneaded Davidson until she awoke. Davidson remembers calling for her spouse because she aware for some reason she couldn’t get up herself.

But Wilson immediately knew something was very wrong. Davidson’s left side was not moving. Her mouth was slightly drooped. Her speech was slurred. Wilson called the Lopez Island Fire Department, which quickly sized up that Davidson was going to ride with Airlift Northwest to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

“When people work together, you can really make a difference,” says the interventional neuroradiologist who was waiting for Davidson, Dr. Danial Hallam, director of Endovascular Ischemic Stroke Therapy at the UW Medicine Department of Radiology.

Hallam and the Harborview team used a new technique called mechanical thrombectomy to literally pull the clot from the small delicate artery in Davidson’s brain, allowing blood to flow freely. The next morning, Davidson was able to move her left hand. The day after that, she walked. “I was just blown away to see her move her hand so soon. These new techniques are just amazing,” Wilson says.

At the Mariners event, Davidson brought her baseball glove because she was ready to catch a home run. “That’s MarJoe,” Wilson says with a grin.

She and Davidson enjoyed all the noise and chaos of a big game at a big stadium. They ate footlong hot dogs. They got to meet the Mariner Moose. Davidson didn’t catch a home run, but Davidson was thrilled that Mariners pitcher Dan Altavilla signed her glove. Davidson says it was exciting to hear the sound of ball hitting bat.

Back home today, Davidson wraps fudge for sale. She works out at the fitness center. She’s also making plans to promote a book she wrote about her mother and her family. “I feel very blessed. I feel God has more for me to do,” she says.