I am reeling.
My life has once again been turned upside down. Earlier this week my friend suffered a massive stroke. She is my boss’ wife, my co-worker, more importantly, my friend. We share an office. We share girl-talk. I spend more time with her on a weekday than I do my own husband.
And she had a stroke.
Life is making less sense to me right now.
She had the stroke right in front of me. One second we are talking and the next second she is having a stroke. I will not discuss her medical information (because that is private) except to say that she is in ICU and in critical condition.
Although I knew at the time she was having a stroke, I didn’t dare say out loud. But what I didn’t know was the early warning signs of a stroke.
Did you know?
- Strokes are the leading cause of disability in the U.S.
- Strokes are the 3rd leading cause of death
- There are many different types of strokes
From the National Stroke Association:
Myth: Stroke is unpreventable
Reality: Stroke is largely preventable
Myth: Stroke cannot be treated
Reality: Stroke requires emergency treatment
Myth: Stroke only strikes the elderly
Reality: Stroke can happen to anyone
Myth: Stroke happens to the heart
Reality: Stroke is a “Brain Attack”
Myth: Stroke recovery only happens for a few months following a stroke
Reality: Stroke recovery continues throughout life
Common stroke symptoms seen in both men and women:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg — especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
Women may report unique stroke symptoms:
- sudden face and limb pain
- sudden hiccups
- sudden nausea
- sudden general weakness
- sudden chest pain
- sudden shortness of breath
- sudden palpitations
- 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 type of stroke.Learn as many stroke symptoms as possible so you can recognize stroke as FAST as possible.
Source: Learn more at the National Stroke Association
Even one of the above symptoms could be a sign of stroke. Don’t hesitate. Better to look silly in the ER than risk not taking action for a stroke. Time is the enemy in this case! I once thought I was having a stroke and went to the ER. Turned out it was a severe case of anxiety. I felt foolish then, but now, I am thankful I didn’t “wait it out”. What if it had not been anxiety?
What makes this event even more confusing? She did everything right. She was not in the risk category. She didn’t take birth control, didn’t smoke, didn’t drink, she exercised, ate healthy, had low cholesterol, was a healthy weight and wasn’t diabetic. It doesn’t make sense to me.
Even though her score would have been low risk, she is not the norm. Get your Stroke Risk Scorecard here to see what you can do to reduce your risk of a stroke.