Eric Jordan is laughing. Laughing because he is already back at work after
nearly dying in January. Laughing, too, because laughter itself is one
of the few after effects of the brain stem stroke he suffered just two
months ago. Because it affects basic functions like breathing and is the
link between brain and body, strokes in the brain stem are, in a word,
catastrophic. Even if the victim survives, there is the possibility of
total paralysis or never regaining consciousness. A cruel fate for a 50-
year old Masters diver like Eric.
Eric's hometown of Diamond Springs is a long way from Diamond Head.
Yet, he's an avid "surf historian" who has created the largest
archive of recorded interviews with surfing legends and musicians. Eric
and his wife, Stephany, have a thriving media production business with
high profile clients in the music industry. In late January, Eric had
just returned home from his regular health club workout, when he became
dizzy and uncoordinated. He dialed his wife and she dialed 911. The ambulance
beat her to the house where EMTs were already working on Eric, who was
now completely paralyzed, with "locked in syndrome."
With strokes, there is only a three hour window during which highly skilled
medical intervention can help. When the ambulance pulled up at Rideout
Memorial Hospital, Dr. Kulwinder "KJ" Singh, M.D., a specialist
in Emergency Medicine for more than 20 years, had an entire team waiting
and focused on saving Eric's life. Stephany describes the coordinated
group of critical caregivers as an 'orchestra', with Dr. Singh
conducting with quiet authority. "We're on a timeline here, people,"
she recalls him saying. "It was clear that he was concerned not only
about saving Eric's life, but about the quality of his life if he
Dr. Singh worked with Rideout neurologist Dr. Wenchiang Han to administer
clot-busting treatments that cleared a third of the blockage immediately,
and they alerted an interventional radiologist in Sacramento to perform
the delicate surgery required for further improvement. Dr. Singh called
Stephany several times to check on Eric's condition after he left
Rideout. "He is so competent and also compassionate," she said.
Eric went home February 1. On February 19, he walked on his own into Rideout's
Emergency Dept. for a visit with the medical team who brought him back
from the brink. When Dr. Singh spotted Eric, Stephany says there were
tears -- and laughter -- all around.
The Jordans have nominated Dr. Singh as one of Fremont- Rideout's Guardian
Angels. Their donation in his honor, most fittingly, will help fund the
expansion of the Emergency Department where he saved Eric's life.