Barely 47. Three weeks after my high school graduation all
my mother and I could think about was what color to have our toes painted for
my college orientation. I chose "pink pearl", she chose
"heart". Had I known that would be our last outing together I would
have acted a little less like a boy crazy eighteen year old, and a lot more
like a daughter who loved her Mom.
Sudden. The stroke happened fast. It was massive and
Severe. She rapidly experienced intense pain in her left
arm, weakness on the left side of her body, loss of vision in her left eye,
impaired hearing, she could not walk or sit up, and was unbearably nauseous.
All of this within a 15 minute walk I took our dog on. My mom was thorough and
precise. We often entertained the idea of her living past one‐hundred because
she was never sick. Stroke does not discriminate solely based upon age or
overall health though. She had been living with an untreated heart problem,
which caused a blood clot to form and go straight to her brain. Three days
later she was declared brain dead. Years have come and gone now, but those
words still sting.
FAST. Face. Arms. Speech. Time.
They say that hindsight is 20/20. In my mother's case, it may have been a life
saver. Three days before her stroke she called me at work. She had a headache
so horrible that she asked me to bring dinner home. I did, and when we went to
bed she seemed fine. In hindsight, I know she wasn't. She had most likely
suffered a mini‐stroke, a warning that a major stroke would occur. We may have
noticed something abnormal had I asked her to smile, raise her arms, or say
something specific that night. We didn't see the life saving signs because we
didn't know how to read them. A wise woman once told me to always find the
positive in moments of pain, even if it is a long road searching. I am still on
that journey, but have certainly felt light through those dark clouds.
May what happened to her, and to us, forever raise the
awareness of the symptoms of stroke and help save lives. Love you Mom.