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.
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!
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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.
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
- 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:
- 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
Recap of Controllable Risk Factors
Women and Stroke, Women's Risks, Women's Unique Symptoms