Life-saving emergency surgery helps New York musician survive consecutive strokes

At 52, music is so much a part of Jason Candler, but these days all he can do is watch old performances online.

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“I want to do this now, but I can’t,” he said, watching a clip of himself playing the saxophone.

That’s because Candler suffered back-to-back strokes earlier in 2021, less than a week apart. Candler said the health fears were “something out of nowhere that hit”.

With his arm in a sling and a cane by his side, family walks are worth celebrating for Candler.

“I had to relearn how to walk from scratch, not knowing how to do anything,” he said.

It was April when Candler started losing all feeling on his left side while playing with his 2 year old son. He quickly found himself on the ground, then in the hospital. His wife called 911.

“I was crying. I never met anyone before I had a stroke,” she said.

Within days he was home, but not for long.

“I had a wonderful weekend and then this Sunday came, and boom, hit me flat on the back again

Blood clots forced doctors to perform emergency surgery on his skull, a procedure that Candler says saved his life.

“If they didn’t cut off the skull, I would be gone, totally gone,” he said. “They must have caused a coma. It’s amazing I’m still here.”

His Mount Sinai medical team hopes to raise awareness of World Stroke Day, praising the scientific advancements that have helped save Candler’s life.

“What Jason had 20 years ago wasn’t really treatable, we wouldn’t talk to him,” said one of the doctors who treat Candler.

Doctors said to remember the acronym “FAST”: watch for warning signs on your face, arms, speech – and don’t waste time getting to the hospital.

It can affect just about anyone, but there are steps you can take to help: Quitting smoking and treating high blood pressure and high cholesterol are all good starts.

“It strikes without warning,” Candler said.

The road to recovery will be long for father and husband, who said the left arm “feels like a burden now.” But he is far from being defeated.

“The first thing I have to do is work on the left shoulder and then we can work on the fingers,” said Candler, eager to know when he’ll be able to play music again.

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