HCA Healthcare
March 25, 2019

SOURCE: Pensacola News Journal
AUTHOR: William Warren-Hicks

Matt Robinson with his wife (far left), Tabitha, and their five children. (Photo: Courtesy of the Matt and Tabitha Robinson)

Tabitha Robinson had already received an unusual number of calls from her husband on March 12, the day after his 38th birthday. He rarely, if ever, called so many times in row while at work before, but her phone rang again.

The first time Matt Robinson called, he’d phoned to tell his wife his head felt strange.

“Do you need to go to the doctor?” she’d asked.

“No, I’ll be alright,” he’d said.

The next time he called, his words seemed slightly slurred. Then, he told his wife his arm tingled. When Tabitha Robinson answered Matt Robinson’s final call, it was incomprehensible.

The first thing Tabitha thought about was making sure Matt got to West Florida Hospital fast, and then “I worried about how we were going to pick up all the kids,” she said.

Once there, the couple learned that the Santa Rosa Sheriff’s deputy suffered a stroke while working as a school resource officer at Milton High School, losing his ability to speak.

Husband, father of five

Matt Robinson receiving a visit while in the hospital from his five children: (Clockwise) Cassidy, 13, Caitlin, 18, Christopher, 2, Kylie, 9, and 6-year-old Kambry. (Photo: Courtesy of Kathy Robinson)

The day of the stroke, Matt could not move his right leg, arm, hand or right foot.

Tabitha slept at the hospital that night — and every night since. It was the beginning of a long road back to recovery, one that kept Matt and Tabitha away from their five children in Holley-Navarre.

“We have seen them three or four times since the 12th,” Tabitha said.

Their oldest is their 18-year-old daughter and their youngest, a 2-year-old boy.

“The girls are old enough to understand that he is ‘sick,’” she wrote in a text message. “The 2-year-old boy, he doesn’t understand where mommy and daddy are.”

Matt coaches their 6-year-old’s T-ball team, said Matt's mother, Kathy Robinson.

Support from the community

But despite the hardships, the family is receiving an outpouring of support.

“The sheriff's office have been phenomenal,” Kathy said. “The night that it happened, I have never seen so many police officers in one place.”

She added that her son’s boss, Santa Rosa Sheriff Bob Johnson, beat the ambulance to the hospital, and several deputies have shared their allotted sick days with Matt.

One sheriff deputy, Kathy said, decided to split all his overtime pay with Matt and his family while Matt remains off-duty.

Spokesman for the Santa Rosa Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Rich Aloy said “‘Loveable’ is a great way to describe him.”

This is Matt’s eighth year as a sheriff’s deputy. He’s spent five years as a school resource officer. Matt patrolled the halls of Navarre High School for one year and spent the last your years detailed to Milton High School.

“If you tried to create in your mind the perfect school resource officer, you could do no better,” said Milton High School Assistant Principal Chad Rowell. “He recognizes human need.

“And, he connects with kids on a level that is trying to grow the child, even when they are in trouble.”

Regaining control of his body

Everyone — at work, school and home — are looking forward to Matt's return.

His condition has vastly improved and did so relatively quickly.

The day after the stroke, Matt regained some control of his right leg. Two days after, he was able to once again move his right arm. Before long Matt and a rehabilitation specialist started working on fine motor skills.

Doctors told Kathy that stroke victims don't actually “lose” their capacities for speech.

“It’s like a spark plug that isn’t connecting yet,” Kathy said. “It’s misfiring.”

How’s Matt doing with talking, now?

“His speech, well, anybody could understand him now,” his mother said. “He sounds like somebody who has a cold.”