Speaking in his usual good spirits good from an unusual location–1212 atop AdventHealth Palm Coast’s Ormond Beach hospital, where the top floor is a rehabilitation wing–Flagler County Commissioner Dave Sullivan this afternoon wanted residents to know he was fine, recovering well, and planning on making it home before Christmas.
“My message is that I that I had a stroke,” Sullivan, 81, said. “It was a mild stroke, but it made my whole left side numb. I’ve been in the hospital since last Wednesday, and I was in the hospital in Palm Coast until Saturday, when they moved me to this very nice rehab center in Ormond. And I’m progressing with rehabilitation since then.”
There was no hint in Sullivan’s voice that he had suffered a stroke: his speech, his memory and his attention to ongoing developments appear unimpeded–he was immediately conversant with meeting dates such as the Dec. 19 County Commission meeting he will try to make but possibly miss, and Wednesday evening’s meeting of the Republican Executive Committee, where a vote on a new chairman is expected. Bob Updegrave is the current chairman.
Sullivan continues to feel numbness in his left side, though it is diminishing.
Late last month he had a similar, milder medical episode that lasted about four hours. He did not call for help at the time, opting to see physicians in subsequent days, when he was told that he may have suffered what’s referred to as a TIA–a transient ischemic attack that briefly disrupts blood flow to the brain and is commonly known as a mini-stroke. He continued to attend to his official duties as normal, representing the county at a Palm Coast groundbreaking for a new boat ramp at Waterfront Park on Nov. 30 and participating in the Dec. 5 county commission meeting and workshop, which took up the morning and part of the afternoon.
At that meeting, he barely alluded to the episode as “a little medical problem,” preferring to focus on others’ deeds–a City Repertory Theatre fund-raiser for the county’s newly formed arts council that raised $3,800, and on Pastor Charles Silano’s gala fund-raiser for a half dozen halfway homes he runs, with assets that have grown to $600,000. He summarized other meetings he attended, reflecting a full schedule. “And with that, glad you’re all back, we held the fort while you were gone,” he told fellow-commissioners.
Two days later he was at his Grand Haven home when his left side went numb around 3:45 p.m., more seriously than he’d experienced before. He called 911, fully alert, speaking in full sentences. He told the dispatcher there was no history of strokes in the family, but mentioned the previous episode. He cautioned that when rescue personnel arrived, his dog would bark, but not bite. He was taken to AdventHealth Palm Coast. His sister, who lives in the area half the year, has been caring for him and his home since, and his daughter is in from Texas, through Christmas.
Sullivan was elected to the commission in 2016 and re-elected two years ago. An optimist and survivor by nature, he tends to downplay cataclysms near or far, even when they strike close to home or at home–he lost his wife to cancer a few years ago–and manages to salvage some cheer even when half numb.
The stroke has been traced back to a small blood clot in the brain that will not be operated on, as it may dissolve, he said. Despite the numbness, he can still use his hand but for some lack of control.
Sullivan will be released from rehab only when his team of physicians and caretakers determine that he can live independently, though he will also receive follow-up home care.
“That’s basically the story,” Sullivan said. “I plan to be back in full-scale operation. I’ll finish out my two years as a commissioner, that kind of thing. And I didn’t die.” He said the last with an audible smirk. Other than putting up with a little boredom in his room, all is fine, he said, and if people want to visit, they can visit. So he gave his room number.
Then he had to hang up: the occupational therapy nurse was in the wings for a session.