OSHKOSH, Wisc. (WFRV) – Fifth-grader Paxton Schlenske didn’t know exactly what was wrong with his teacher, but the awareness he did set off a chain reaction of collaboration and teamwork that ultimately brought his teacher back to the classroom.

“I was explaining a division problem to Paxton,” recalled Greg Martin, a teacher at Martin Luther School in Oshkosh.

Martin remembers precisely what he was doing when he realized something was terribly wrong.

“I could see the problem in my mind but I could not get the words out to explain it to Paxton,” Martin explained. 

…and he wasn’t the only one who recognized there was a problem.

“He kept repeating a word, but couldn’t really say it,” said Paxton Schlenske, a fifth-grader in Martin’s math class.

At only 39 years old, Martin was having a stroke.

“I went to our principal and he called 911 at that point,” Martin said.

Thanks to the quick response from those emergency services workers, the team at Aurora Oshkosh and the comprehensive care of the Aurora BayCare stroke team, Martin’s prognosis was promising.

“Time is the most important thing,” said Dr. Gerald W. Eckardt, a neurological surgeon at Aurora BayCare Medical Center.

A promising prognosis, however, doesn’t mean Martin’s return to wellness would be easy.

“It was a long road to recovery,” Martin said.

As the teacher became the student.

“In the hospital already I had a therapist and I had homework,” Martin explained, describing what, for him, was the hardest part of recovery. “I’ve been a math teacher my whole career and I couldn’t do the math problems.” 

This young husband and father of two persevered, continuing the hard work of recovery until he is once again in front of the classroom teaching those math problems

Eckardt says Martin’s recovery is a perfect example of why Aurora BayCare’s Comprehensive Stroke Center is such a benefit to patients

“Having the appropriate hospitalists, having the appropriate ICU doctors, having the appropriate therapy department, having appropriate physical medicine rehab doctors etc… having all those pieces in place from when that patient hits the ER to when they’re discharged either home or some rehab facility, is all a part of that comprehensive program,” Eckardt explained. 

As part of celebrating the five-year anniversary of Aurora BayCare’s Comprehensive Stroke Center, they want to remind people to BE FAST if you think someone may be having a stroke. B – Balance, E – Eyes, F- Face, notice any changes in the face, does one side droop? A – Arms, can they hold both out evenly? S – Speech, is their speech slurred? If you do see any of these signs, time is crucial, call 9-1-1 immediately.

As for Paxton, he received the “Stroke Hero” award for being part of the collaboration between school officials, Aurora Oshkosh Emergency Department, and Aurora BayCare’s Comprehensive Stroke Team that collectively saved his teacher’s life.  In addition to math, Paxton says he also learned another important lesson in Mr. Martin’s classroom, about awareness.

“In case if your teacher’s in danger or someone else is,” Paxton said.

Martin has found his words once again, but he doesn’t need many to express his thoughts to everyone who brought him back to the front of the classroom.

“Thank you,” he said. “Thank you for everything.”

If you know of a community member who is an advocate for stroke awareness or has helped to identify stroke symptoms, submit an application for the Aurora BayCare Medical Center Stroke Hero Award at: aurorabaycare.com/events.  Use the keywords “Stroke Hero.”