My stroke experience began January 5, 2010. It was a very ordinary day for me that began at 4 AM. The day changed dramatically at 1 PM when I started experiencing stroke warning signs, one right after another. I was at work, fortunately around fellow coworkers, when my eyes suddenly blurred so badly that I barely found my way to a chair. It seems as though it was only moments later that numbness ran down my entire left side.
When a coworker noticed my (F) facial expression was not normal, he asked me a question that I could not answer coherently. I could no longer use my left (A) arm efficiently enough to reach or hold anything. My (S) speech was slurred very badly, even though I did not believe anything was wrong. This is when one of my other coworkers said to call 911 fast, "Dan is having a stroke."(Learn more about the FAST test.)
I thought: this is not possible. I am only 45 and I am feeling fine other than not being able to use my body. I was in total denial about there being any problem at all, and was doing my best to convince everybody that I would go by the doctor's office on my way home. Somebody said, "That sounds great, but it is not going to happen. We have EMS on the way."
EMS showed up in about 10 minutes, quickly diagnosed my symptoms, agreed signs of a stroke were present and asked what hospital I wanted to go to. The very last thing I remember was looking out the back window of the ambulance after being loaded in. Later on, I was told that I was turning for the worse very quickly.
That is when the EMS decided to take me to INTEGRIS Southwest Medical Center instead of the hospital I had requested. The EMS knew that INTEGRIS Southwest was readily available to deliver instant care to stroke victims. When I became coherent I was in the emergency room, wondering how I had gotten there and where I was. There was a nurse leaning over me when I woke up, and I remember asking her if she was an angel.
The time now was about 2 PM and I was instantly being profiled for tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) treatment (a clot-buster drug). I was wondering why the entire room was filled with medical personnel, not knowing how efficiently they have performed this process in the past. At about 2:45 PM I learned I did indeed fit the profile as a candidate for treatment of an ischemic stroke.
All of the personnel were waiting in anticipation to see what effects the tPA treatment would have on my symptoms. Almost immediately, my world was coming back to me. I was released from the hospital on the following Saturday, with no noticeable signs of having had a stroke. I was able to return to work on Monday.
Recognizing the signs of a stroke and getting medical attention immediately is essential to an individual's recovery. Strokes are not age specific and can happen to anybody at any time. You have a three-hour window of (T) time from having the very first signs of a stroke to having tPA treatment. That does not allow for time to be wasted. If you witness someone having these signs, act quickly no matter where you are; their recovery depends on your actions. Call 911 immediately.
In thinking back, maybe she was an angel after all.
F = FACE Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A = ARMS Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S = SPEECH Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?
T = TIME If you observe any of these signs, it's time to call 911 or get to the nearest stroke center or hospital.