Video: Click here to watch video from the mayor's interview with The World-Herald.
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This wasn't an ordinary illness, and Mayor Jim Suttle knew it.
“I was light-headed and had a touch of vertigo,” the mayor said in his first interview since returning from Europe. “Words weren't coming out the way they should be.”
The symptoms, though, seemed to pass by lunchtime last Friday. Suttle phoned his wife, Deb, to inform her of his condition. She went into “nurse mode,” the mayor said, and ordered him to a hospital.
By then, Suttle was on a tour with the mayor of Naas, Ireland.
“I just said to him, ‘Take me to your hospital. I think I'm having a stroke,' ” Suttle said. “And so that's what we did.”
The public learned the diagnosis of a mild stroke on Tuesday from Suttle's personal physician and a spokeswoman following the 68-year-old's health scare during a European economic development and sister cities tour.
Although Suttle underwent scans and saw a neurologist in Ireland, aides said doctors there did not diagnose a stroke.
When Suttle checked into Naas General Hospital, he said, doctors immediately seized on his elevated blood pressure. He recalls doctors rattling off readings of 200|103 and 166|106.
“That obviously created a scare for me,” he said. His mother endured similar symptoms during a stroke she suffered years ago.
“Of course your mind goes through all of this,” he said. “You're human.”
But Suttle said his plans to seek re-election next year will proceed. He's already shown a willingness to tackle politics since his return by issuing statements taking on his critics and political rivals on the City Council.
Suttle showed no signs of ill health Thursday in a half-hour interview.
He repeated familiar one-liners and projected some of his same engineer-oriented personality — going forward, he says he needs to “plan the work and work the plan.”
“Nothing has changed,” he said. “Except we're going to address this health issue head on. I consider it a wake-up call.”
That means his diet, exercise habits and what he describes as “70- to 90-hour” workweeks will be re-evaluated. It will also mean refocusing on the city's most pressing issues, he said, rather than trying to tackle as many things as he'd hoped.
First he must reveal his choice for the city's next police chief and continue efforts to manage the cost of a federally mandated sewer separation project.
“Now we have to go back and make sure we focus on the main priorities I promised in 2009,” Suttle said.
His work schedule will resume next week.
“Today the issue is, ‘Is Jim Suttle coming out of this older, wiser and just as healthy?'
“I hope so, I think so, I feel so,” he said.
World-Herald staff writer Matt Wynn contributed to this report.
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