Home Popular Columns May is Stroke Awareness Month

May is Stroke Awareness Month

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By Joe Novak

Every year in May, I write about a subject dear to my heart; my 2009 stroke. I am one of the lucky ones who walked out of the hospital and drove himself home. Brushing off a stroke as just a headache or that your arm “fell asleep” can be the difference between walking out or being transported to a nursing facility for therapy, or worse, a life in diapers; did I mention death? 

I don’t know how to emphasize the fact that time becomes the most critical factor in a stroke onset situation. You have, at most, 3 to 4 hours after a stroke to be treated or all bets are off, and the sooner the better.

Many people still do not recognize that they are having a stroke and if the symptoms go away, ignore the event. They don’t want to be embarrassed showing up at the ER only to be told they didn’t have one. No one at the ER will ridicule you if it is a false alarm; rather, they will be extremely happy for you and it will be a great day. 

Do not drive yourself to the ER if an ambulance is available since they will notify the hospital and a stroke team will be assembled while you are in route. Every minute counts. Do not wait to see if your symptoms improve – they never do.

Use a landline if available since the location is listed to that number where a cell phone has no corresponding location. If they can’t find you, they can’t treat you!

The first stroke can be followed by a second that does the real damage; it can come in seconds or days after what may be a very minor event that you shrugged off as nothing. Learn the four main signs of a stroke and pay attention to them even if you think you are too young or too healthy.

Here are the signs:

Face Drooping. Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.

Arm Weakness. Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward? 

Speech Difficulty. Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “the sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?

Tongue. Ask the person to stick out their tongue; if it curls or goes to one side, it could indicate a stroke.

Call 911 If the person shows any of these symptoms. Even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.

New procedures are being developed constantly however there is no better scenario than taking care of your health and never having a stroke. Find out how at www.stroke.org.

Note: the above should not be construed as medical advice and it is not intended or written as a substitute for seeking a doctor’s care.

Joe Novak retired from PGS,Inc. a manufacturing company he sold in 2005. He has written more than 140 articles for The Middlefield Post and is active in his community and church. Joe’s articles are based on his life and business experiences and though he tries to be as accurate as possible, he recommends you contact an expert or professional when in doubt.

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