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2012 ISSUE 1

“I Always Knew I Was a Candidate for Stroke”

A grateful survivor counts on patience and marks her progress.

Marty McDougall drove the 35 miles to her job at Ingham Regional Medical Center in Lansing, MI on June 17, 2010 just like she had on any other Thursday for the last 25 years.

The administrative assistant arrived at the Central Nurse Scheduling Office and had a normal conversation with a coworker. But then another coworker asked her a question and McDougall says she gave a totally off-the-wall answer. The coworker noticed McDougall’s face was drooping and her words were slurred and immediately called for help. McDougall can’t recall anything after that moment until late Saturday afternoon when she woke up in the ICU.

“I was thankful this did not happen until I arrived at work,” she says. “I think of all the ‘what-ifs’ and I’m very fortunate my coworker was in the office and I received medical attention very quickly.”

Before her stroke, McDougall had been taking medication for high blood pressure, mitral valve repair and atrial fibrillation—a type of irregular heart beat and major risk factor for stroke. “I always knew I was a candidate for stroke,” says McDougall. “However, I never thought it would happen to me.”

McDougall was discharged seven days after her stroke and says the healing process has been a long lesson in patience. She’s experienced a seizure, participated in outpatient physical and occupational therapies, and is learning to get around in a wheelchair and teaching her body how to walk again. However, she returned to work just six months after her stroke, has since celebrated her 60th birthday and has been blessed with her ninth grandchild.

Today, she’s working toward replacing her walker with a cane and says the biggest lesson she has learned is to take one day at a time and to have more patience with her progress. “I have kept a saying in front of me when I am feeling down and it goes like this: ‘I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet,’” McDougall says.

Common Atrial Fibrillation (Afib) Symptoms

  • Heart palpitations
  • Sudden pounding, fluttering or racing sensation in the chest, sometimes referred to as “butterflies”
  • Dizziness or feeling light-headed

Treatments for Atrial Fibrillation to Prevent Stroke

The goal for treating Afib is to restore the normal, regular rhythm of the heart and beat the odds of having a stroke. Often, this can be done with medications or the use of electrical stimulation.

If these efforts are not successful, Afib treatment concentrates on protecting the body from the blood clots that could travel from the heart to the brain, causing strokes. Doctors can prescribe blood-thinning medications, which can greatly reduce stroke risk if taken properly.

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National Stroke Association’s mission is to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke by developing compelling education and programs focused on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and support for all impacted by stroke.

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