HomePublicationBurbankStroke Patient Recounts Harrowing Journey to Recovery

Stroke Patient Recounts Harrowing Journey to Recovery

Glendale resident and Burbank Pastor Nick Reed is thankful to have had a miraculous recovery from his massive stroke and cherishes the time he gets to spend with his wife, Rachel Reed, and their four daughters: Lis’e (11), Corrie (7), Charlie (9) and Amy (13).

Nick Reed has a reason to be thankful.
The Burbank pastor and Glendale resident’s life is finally returning to normal after the 38-year-old pastor nearly died from a stroke, following two misdiagnoses from two separate medical centers before eventually receiving life-saving care at Dignity Health — Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center.
After one major brain surgery, two follow-up brain operations, a 20-day stay at Glendale Memorial and months of recovery, Reed, who also works as a chaplain for the Glendale Police Department, returned to lead services at CityLight LA Church in Burbank on Oct. 29 for the first time since July.
With no underlying health conditions and an athletic demeanor, Reed was not sure what to think when his stroke symptoms first presented themselves. While golfing with friends in Sylmar, Reed started feeling debilitatingly dizzy, and he began experiencing tunnel vision with instances of his vision blacking out altogether.
Thinking it could be dehydration from the July heat, Reed tried chugging water and cooling off before eventually collapsing and vomiting. At this point he knew something was wrong and urged his friends to call 911. After spending the night in a hospital, he was discharged without any real answers.
“I was so out of it. My head was spinning,” Reed told the News-Press. “I couldn’t walk alone or even move. With any movement, I felt like I was going to throw up, but then they told me I was good to go. And I was thinking ‘I’m good to go? Go where?!’”
Looking back, Reed expressed shock and frustration that he was sent home during such a serious medical emergency.
“I had an ischemic stroke,” he said. “I had a blood clot in the major vein of the back end of my head and then they released me saying I was good.”
After his symptoms continued to persist, Reed’s wife took him to an urgent care the morning after he was discharged. The doctors there told Reed he was suffering from an anxiety attack and sent him home with anti-anxiety and pain medication.
But back home again, Reed’s health started to decline rapidly until he was gasping for air, unable to breathe. His wife called 911 and Glendale Fire Department paramedics arrived to take Reed to Glendale Memorial. One paramedic quickly recognized Reed’s symptoms as a stroke, which was easily confirmed by the CT scan performed at Glendale Memorial upon Reed’s arrival.
Reed slipped into a coma and was rushed into emergency major brain surgery, performed by Dr. Yaser Badr, a neurosurgeon who told the News-Press Reed was an hour from death when he arrived at the hospital. Badr also said that if Reed had been diagnosed with a stroke at the onset of his symptoms — which at that point was two days prior — he would not have been in such a life-threatening state, but instead would have likely been fine with medication, monitoring and maybe a simple procedure.
While Reed did not have the most common symptom of a stroke, which is paralysis of one side of the body, Badr said that any medical professional should have recognized that Reed was having a stroke.
Badr, who has his own practice at Sierra Neuroscience Institute but contracts with local hospitals to perform surgeries, commended the speed and diligence with which Glendale Memorial got Reed into surgery, in under an hour.
“That definitely was a factor that led to [Reed’s] excellent recovery,” Badr told the News-Press, adding that Reed’s ability to fully recover quickly and without permanent damage was nothing short of miraculous.
Aside from mild dizzy spells and imperfect coordination, Reed said he is now pretty much fully recovered.
“The experience has given me more appreciation of life, especially the first few months, but even now, the ability just to talk and to see and to move. Nothing could stop me in the past and even though I’m young, I realized how quickly that could go,” Reed said, adding how thankful he is to still have his vision and be able to see his children.
Reed and his wife have four daughters between the ages of seven and 13. He said this experience was not easy for them and due to the nature of brain injuries, the girls were afraid their dad wouldn’t be the same afterwards.
“They are thankful that I’m here, but they no doubt faced a lot of trauma too,” Reed said.
Following his recovery, Reed had the opportunity to meet back up with and thank the hospital staff that treated him during his stay at Glendale Memorial as well as the paramedics who helped him.
“The Glendale Memorial team acted fast. … They treated us great at the ICU and they became like family, so we think the most of them. … There’s a reason why they’re a five-star hospital.”
In addition to getting to thank his doctors, Reed was especially grateful to reconnect with the paramedics.
“I wanted to let them know that their work matters,” he said. “Obviously, they don’t get to see the other side of it oftentimes.”
While Reed does harbor frustration with the two medical centers who he feels “failed” him, he finds strength in his recovery and urges everyone to trust their instincts when it comes to advocating for their health and well-being. With his second chance at life, Reed plans to use his time meaningfully, spending much of it with family and continuing his work as a pastor.
“I realized that maybe I’ll live to be an old person, maybe I won’t, but at the end of the day, I have to at least try to run hard and do what I know God has me here to do for my life as a believer and as a person of faith.”

First published in the November 25 print issues of the Glendale News-Press and Burbank Leader.


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