For a couple of weeks, I haven't been putting up as many posts on Neatorama as I used to (besides the pre-scheduled posts). No, I wasn't in jail ;) - rather, I was away on a family emergency: my father had a stroke. Thankfully, the stroke was mild and he is recovering well. Nevertheless, it was a very serious matter that gave us many sleepless nights.
I've just returned home, and am trying to catch up on work, postings and emails. For those of you who sent me emails and I haven't responded, please be patient - I'm getting to 'em! I may have to go back, so I apologize in advance for future lack of postings / email response.
After thinking about it for a while, I decided to write this personal post because what I'm about to tell you may save your life or the life of someone you love. Please take a minute to read a little about stroke and its symptoms.
Basically, a stroke is a "brain attack," where blood flow to the brain is interrupted. In the United States alone, someone has a stroke every 45 seconds. Every 3 minutes, someone dies from it. It is the third leading cause of death in the country - and sadly, an overwhelming number of stroke cases are actually preventable.
Knowing the symptoms of stroke will allow you to react and get help as quickly as possible:
Sudden Numbness in One Side of the Body
Sudden Vision Trouble
Sudden Confusion or Trouble Speaking
Sudden Trouble Walking, Loss of Balance
In cases of transient ischemic attack (TIA or mini-stroke), these symptoms may disappear on their own. The person experiencing them often try to minimize the symptoms or ignore them completely. They will often discourage you from calling for help. This is a big mistake: one-third of them will go on to have an actual debilitating stroke.
If you think someone is having a stroke, remember to act F.A.S.T, which is a clever acronym for:
In many cases, stroke is completely preventable and you can lower your risk for a first stroke. Start by knowing your blood pressure, cholesterol level, whether you have diabetes and/or heart disorders. See: National Stroke Association.
Lastly, please schedule an annual physical with your doctor, if you haven't been to one recently. I know all of the excuses, we've all used them to avoid the doctor:
I feel fine.
Indeed, my father felt perfectly healthy until the minute he got a stroke. Remember, there may be NO warning sign for your first stroke.
I don't have the time, I'm too busy at work.
A couple hours of going to see your doctor vs. a couple of weeks (at least) or months of recovery, if you're lucky to survive a stroke. You'll have to re-learn talking, walking, eating ... everything. Going to the bathroom? Yep - you've got to learn (again) how to do that too ...
I don't like getting prodded.
A few uncomfortable minutes vs. .... Let's not get into what they'll do to you in the hospital if you're ever in one for a stroke.
I don't have the money to see a doctor.
Having a stroke is very expensive. Preventing one is cheap.
I don't want to know if I'm sick, I'd rather just die.
This is not a terminal illness. You can do something to prevent it. If you won't do it for yourself, do it for someone you love. Plus, you don't just die - you suffer first (and maybe for a very long time) before you die.
Please tell your family and friends. Email this post. Print this out, post it on your cubicle. Whatever you can do to prevent a stroke or save someone's life (maybe yours too).