Judge Ed Emmett’s was the face you saw during daily, sometimes hourly, updates throughout Harvey, offering information about evacuations or asking neighbors to step up to help.
“I got some credit for reaching out to the public, but the irony is they were going to come out whether I said come out or not,” says Emmett. “It’s just a Texan thing.”
Texans, he says, are tough. So, it turns out, is Emmett.
On Aug. 15, during a work trip to Victoria, the longtime Harris County judge suffered a minor microvascular ischemia, a clot in a blood vessel in his brain. It blew out his fourth cranial nerve, causing a stroke.
“I felt fine. I just couldn’t see. I was seeing double images at all kind of angles,” Emmett describes. “I was helicoptered back to Memorial Hermann and I was in their stroke unit all day. Of course, I was told to take it easy for a while.”
He says he followed the doctor’s orders for about a week. Then Harvey showed up on the radar. The judge, who was tasked with coordinating Harris County’s response to the unprecedented disaster, didn’t leave the Office of Emergency Management for six days. He slept for just 11 hours total.
“My family was obviously concerned,” Emmett says. “My doctor called me almost every day and said, ‘Aren’t you supposed to be resting and getting some sleep?’”
Rest finally came once Harvey left and Emmett says he now has a clean bill of health.
“It’s an expensive way to do it, but I’ve had two MRIs, I’ve had an ultrasound on my heart, I’ve had an EKG, I have no blockage of any kind. I don’t have plaque in my system,” he chuckles. “It was just some freak occurrence.”
Emmett says he’s speaking up about his diagnosis now because he wants people to know how important it is to identify symptoms and get treatment.