STROKE: Do you know the warning signs of a stroke?

I didn’t know the signs the first time I had a stroke.

That was in 2012 and again in 2013. And again, last Saturday, April 29, 2017, I still wasn’t convinced that my symptoms meant stroke.

Warning Signs of Stroke:
Memory Tool: FAST
National Stroke Association.

Though, this time I was 100 percent sure about the warning signs of stroke.

When the symptoms started, I struggled to rationalize away the symptoms; pinched nerves, sitting wrong, too much salsa dancing, pulled my back and on and on.

Last Saturday, it had been four years since I experienced any symptoms or even thought about it.

My left cheek and side of my mouth, my left arm and left leg were tingling and feeling sort of numb. My balance seemed iffy.  I didn’t want the embarrassment or inconvenience to others of a “false alarm.”  I know that’s silly, but I’m a master at second guessing.

I finally gave in to my husband’s urging and called 9-1-1.  After the call, the rest is out of your hands.  During a stroke, speed equals brain health.  When you’ve had a stroke, you are at greater risk of having another one. Type 1 diabetes complicates it.

Warning Signs of Stroke from National Stroke Association*

Stroke happens in the brain…not the heart.

May is National Stroke awareness month. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and is a major cause of serious disability for adults.

Certainly it involves the blood from the heart and the arteries that carry the blood to the brain.

A stroke occurs when one of these arteries to the brain is either blocked or bursts.  As a result, part of the brain does not get the blood it needs, so it starts to die.

Learn the many signs of a stroke.  Act FAST and Call 9-1-1 immediately at any sign of a stroke.

Use the FAST sign to remember the warning signals.

More important information from the National Stroke Association*  www.stroke.org/symp

“NOTE THE TIME WHEN ANY SYMPTOMS FIRST APPEAR.  If given within three hours of the first symptom, there is an FDA-approved  clot-buster medication that may reduce long-term disability for the most common types of stroke.

Good News this Time

This time it was a false alarm. After an EKG, Cat scan, MRI, Carotid sonogram and ECO cardiogram and multiple lab tests and an overnight stay, it was determined that I had a transient ischemic attack (TIA), sometimes called a mini-stroke.

According to the National Stroke Association, major symptoms of a TIA include:

  • Numbness, weakness or loss of vision
  • Trouble speaking
  • Loss of balance or coordination.

When a TIA happens, the artery either becomes unblocked after a short time or a new path opens up and blood flow goes back to normal. Because of that, the symptoms last for a short time and then disappear.  A TIA is a serious warning sign that you might have a stroke.  If you’ve had a TIA, you should see your doctor immediately

My “backwards” Stroke warning symptom experience.

Rick and Dixie

In 2012, after playing tennis that day,  I woke in the night to visit the bathroom.  My left knee buckled and I had to drag myself back to bed.  In the morning when I got up, my left knee and left elbow kept buckling and tingling and the left side of my mouth was numb.

Still no clue about a possible stroke.  I didn’t know the symptoms. I noted that I really needed to have my back checked and urged my husband to go on with his day’s activities.

Later, a friend called to play tennis, I told her I why I couldn’t.  A retired critical care nurse, she came over immediately and drove me to the hospital.  I used a golf club as a cane.

Turns out that this was a stroke and by waiting overnight and the next morning, the neurologist said the prospects weren’t good for my recovering the losses. I missed the deadline for the clot buster,  and I had a blood clot in my brain.  He was rightfully upset at my lack of knowledge about signs of stroke. He felt the tingling I had experienced at the pool and ignored the previous week was a warning attack or TIA.

I spent a week in the hospital with therapists for speech, strength, writing, balance and walking. Because we were still snowbirds, I needed to fly with a “walker” from Florida to Colorado to resume my insured healthcare and stroke therapy.

The stroke therapist was excellent. By the 8th week, I was back to “as normal as I get,” and because I am a lefty, started to hit the tennis ball with my right hand.  Soon life returned to normal.

Second time around, stroke symptoms

The second event was a year later and predicated by an oral dose of prednisone for sciatica.  I went to the hospital immediately and received the clot buster and was told that folks with Type 1 diabetes should never be given prednisone at all but especially in oral doses.

As I said before, I had no symptoms since 2013 until last Saturday.  I have to say it’s a hard evaluation to determine if the sensations are stroke or something else.

I was blessed and with my first stroke’s education and the recovery.  Very very blessed and lucky.

“National Stroke Association’s mission is to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke by developing education and program on stroke prevention, treat, rehabilitation and support. “

Please spread awareness by sharing the FAST symptoms of stroke with five of your friends and family, it can happen at any age.

Visit www.stroke.org today and put the warning signs on your refrigerator.

I thought my ER doctor made a compelling argument last Saturday,when he said, “Sorry about your embarrassment that this could be a false alarm. You made the smart choice.   You could put it off and end up “not being able to wipe yourself.”

That resonates with me. How about you?

Dixie

email:  writers at richlyaged.com

website: richlyaged.com  a blog about positive aging.