CLEVELAND — “The pain was just unbearable."
Tim Tyus, 60, is a Cleveland resident, a musician, and a man of resilience.
"I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry. I wanted to holler. I said, 'It ain’t no use — I’m not gonna survive this.' I said, ‘Man, you’re gonna be dead in a few minutes,'” Tyus recalled.
A few months ago, Tyus spent days in the ICU, suffering from COVID-19 and pneumonia. But just a day after arriving home, he started experiencing symptoms of something else.
“Everything is just out of sync. I was dizzy. I was feeling nauseous again. My head was this, this, this, this pain. It wasn't a headache. I can hardly describe that it was so intense,” Tyus said. “I called 911, went back outside and they came. They came and they took me to the main campus Cleveland Clinic.”
Doctors found that Tyus had a rare condition called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis caused by a blood clot in the veins of the brain.
“One of the nurses explained to me, 'Well, this is what they call a stroke.'"
Cleveland Clinic Vascular Neurologist Dr. Abbas Kharal said the condition was COVID-related.
“It sometimes occurs as part of the inflammatory phase and in the inflammatory response to COVID, which is seen days to weeks after the initial covid infection.”
Kharal says stroke due to COVID-19 is rare, but unlike Tyus' case, it often occurs in patients with hypercoagulability or thick blood disease.
“What we're seeing is, ... You know, COVID-positive patients, yes, they can develop strokes. But again, more so, as a result of hypercoagulability, and not necessarily COVID itself causing, you know, a vascular involvement. There are some infections that can affect the blood vessels themselves, and those can clog. We're not seeing that with COVID yet, but what we're seeing is more of a hypercoagulability. And I would say it is kind of around that two to 3% range,” said Kharal.
Coagulation refers to red blood cells collecting together — it's the process that the body implements to help heal a cut or another wound on the body. But with hypercoagulation, it goes into overdrive, forming clots.
Tyus says hes thankful he went to the clinic when he did and is grateful to those who treated him, like Kharal.
Today, he's feeling better, but is tired and dizzy often.
“It's life changing, I’ll tell you that. If you've never been through it, it is for me. It scares you, more than anything.”
But he says hes getting back to playing music and hopes to put out a jazz album in the near future.
“My cousin (called) me when I was in the hospital. He said, 'Man, you got to get through this 'cause we got to do the CD man.' So, it was encouraging, but I was saying to myself man, ‘I’m not going to make it.’”