Stroke Awareness - Make a Difference

I truly feel that my spirit is meant to run. I have said that before and I will again. And I will always mean it. I believe that I am meant to make a difference in life through running. No, I am not going to break any world records. No, I am not going to the Olympics. That isn't what I was meant to do. I feel through blogging I am able to share my passion, hopefully inspire, and perhaps raise awareness to health issues.

Today I want to talk about strokes and at the end of my post I have a guest post from someone who has experienced strokes firsthand. You may instantly think of some elderly person having a debilitating stroke and their family taking care of them. This in itself is awful and hard to bear but someone doesn't need to be "old" in order to have a stroke. Therefore, I feel it is very important to understand stroke and to recognize the warning signs and to ask FAST.

F - Ask the person to smile. Does the face droop on one side?
A - Ask the person to lift their arms. Does one drop downwards?
S - Ask the person to speak. Are they slurring their words?
T - If you see any of these signs, call 911 immediately.

I have also read that you can ask the person to open their mouth and see if their tongue drifts to one side. I haven't seen this verified on the National Stroke Association site yet.

So today, I am asking you to help bring make a difference by getting onboard to raise awareness of stroke and what a vital role you may play one day in helping someone. Here's how you can help.

Stroke Awareness Virtual Run
I will be running the Maui Marathon on September 16 and am inviting all of you to run or walk virtually with me. You can go any distance and treadmills are fine. All that I ask is that you help spread the word and raise awareness on strokes. Register HERE. I will establish a way for all runners and walkers to share how many miles they contributed to this cause. Since I want to stay focused on stroke awareness, there will be no distraction with door prizes.

I have set up a fundraising page through the National Stroke Association. Donations are not mandatory to participate in the virtual run. Donate if you can and want to. Donate HERE. Although the virtual run has passed, I am still accepting donations for this great cause!

Tweet, Blog, Post
Help spread the word often! This makes the biggest impact.

A True Story of Stroke
I have a dear friend who has experienced strokes firsthand. He is a gentle spirit who has a special path in life and was gracious enough to share his story here. In addition, he has a blog focused on stroke awareness and I have provided his links for more information at the end of this post.

Pip's Story:
Stroke Awareness – you just never know when it might happen. You can learn the risk factors and mitigate those but you never know. I had two strokes. Here is the story of the first one. This one will be considered the small stroke (TIA – transient ischemic attack) as the residual of that was identified in an MRI after the major stroke that occurred one month later.

It was February of 2009. My brother was up with his children for a visit and we had all headed out to the Zoo in Dallas. Valentine’s weekend. I remember walking around the zoo and suddenly I was slipping behind the pack. I used the fact that my ever present Canon camera was in my hand to hide the confusion that I was feeling. I told the family I was falling behind because the rhino would not keep still.

Wait … the rhino would not keep still … see in hindsight it reeks of the confusion that was bouncing around in my less than fully functioning brain.

My first thought was that some bug had decided to explode in my body that day. I was slower than possible but managed to shake off the total disorientation that was occurring and make it through the day.

I just told my brother I was a bit under the weather. Not knowing then what I know now. That somewhere in the upper part of the right brain between the frontal and temporal lobes there had been a momentary blockage that was rewiring part of the process.

The visit to the doctors after the family had left was a mute point. These TIAs are a disruption of cerebral blood flow but most manage to resolve themselves in a matter of a few minutes or 24 hours at the most. So the diagnosis was that it looked like I might have a sinus infection and a steroid was prescribed to clear up the fluid.

What happened a month later was far worse than this and even though I downplay it now the level of terror and fear in a mind that goes on while the world changes around you but it is really your mind that is slowly losing part of itself is beyond compare. That story is for another day.

What are the risk factors?

Controllable Risk Factors:
  • High Blood Pressure - I was taking medicine for this
  • Atrial Fibrillation
  • High Cholesterol -  had this but it has been under control for years
  • Diabetes
  • Tobacco Use and Smoking - I smoked for 6 months in 1988
  • Alcohol Use - Social drinker but not much at all
  • Physical Inactivity - I was totally sedentary
  • Obesity - At a whopping 426 lbs when this happened – obesity kills

Uncontrollable Risk Factors:
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Family History
  • Previous Stroke or TIA - this one is now me
  • Fibromuscular Dysplasia
  • Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO or Hole in the Heart) - this one is also me

Uncontrollable risk factors include being over age 55, being male, being African American, Hispanic or Asian/Pacific Islander, or having a family history of stroke or transient ischemic attack.

Want to Learn More?
Types of Strokes
Stroke Symptoms
Recap of Controllable Risk Factors
Women and Stroke, Women's Risks, Women's Unique Symptoms
Stroke Myths


  1. wow wow wow! thanks so much for sharing this post and shedding such amazing light on the subject for me! i learned a ton from this, and i am incredibly inspired! will def sign up for the virtual race tonight! SPA Love

  2. Thank you for sharing the information, so important. As a NP working in stroke I see the downside of lack of public awareness all the time. I ran my first marathon to raise $ for stroke research, such a great cause. SPA love

  3. LOVE LOVE LOVE this!! Ill definately run with you!! And do a blog post here in afew days!!

  4. Thank you for the information... will gladly +1 and tweet.

  5. Spreading the word. Joining the Virtual Run. This one is close to my heart as you know. Thank you. Focused me back in on what I need to work on and I appreciate your friendship my luv.

  6. Such important information. Lost my Mother after a stroke and it was very sad. Sometimes people, especially older folks, think that if they are taking pills for something then it is under control... she had been on blood pressure meds for many years and we never could get her to do any of the things that she might have, to lower it naturally. Keep up the good work, Erica.

  7. What an informative post! I will surely share it! #spa love

  8. I registered, donated and shared on my FB. this is such important info. My mother seems to think strokes are a hobby or something since she just keeps having them. this info is priceless!

  9. Thank you to each and every one of you!

  10. I think this is wonderful! My husband is 49 years old and had a stroke 16 days ago. It was a hemorrhagic bleed in his left basal ganglia. We are lucky he survived. Before his stroke he was an accomplished pianist and artist and a wonderful father of our 6 children and my husband for 27 years. Today he is paralyzed on his right side and also has aphasia. He had never been sick until that day. Since then we have embraced a new reality of hospital rooms and therapies. I am so happy that he is still with us and hope he will be able to return to normal at some point. My daughter and I will definitely be doing this.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story Becky. You and your family are in my prayers!

  11. I registered and shared on my blog as well as facebook. This is so important to me since I, too am a stroke survivor :)

    1. Thanks for sharing Amanda and I am so glad to hear you are a survivor!

  12. I truly do want to respond personally to everyone but if I am unable to find a contact email, I will just comment here. Thank you to all for your support and courage to share your stories as well!

  13. Good. Great post. My dad is a 2-time stroke survivor and founded a Stroke Survivors' Association in his city. He meets with medical professionals and with families of survivors to help mediate, as long as try to prepare them for what happens after release from hospital. Tweeting your post.

  14. Hey there! Just wondering if these was a place to log out time for the virtual run from this weekend?

    Hope Maui was awesome and I can't wait to hear about it!

  15. Kara Jeane12:43 PM

    I'd like to suggest to any former victims or potential victims of stroke to get a medical alert device. Depending on how severe the stroke is, it may happen in bed when you are home alone and no one would think to disturb you for hours and this could be dangerous. I know for my grandmother we feel safer knowing she has one at her bedside or worn around her person at all times. She may not be able to communicate if a stroke should happen, but she'd at least be able to push the button at the very first signs of stroke. They will dispatch aid to come over even if she does not answer, and they can provide critical info to paramedics if she cannot talk and if no one else is home.


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