I stood there in the middle of my living room stuck in disbelief. Why was the entire right- side of my body numb? All I could think about was my husband and son coming home to find me dead.
According to the American Heart Association, about 2,300 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day, an average of 1 death every 38 seconds. This claims more lives than all cancers combined. These are some scary numbers but what’s even more significant is the number of people who ignore the signs and symptoms of a stroke or heart attack.
As many as 1 in 3 people have signs of a mini-stroke, but sadly 3 percent of those people take the recommended action. Instead of calling 911 right away, majority of people wait, rest, or take medicine. This of course puts you at higher risk for brain damage and even death. Your body is so unique that it gives off warning signals when there is trouble.
Early one Thursday morning as I was getting prepared for my normal work day, I had an experience that would literally change my life. While I’m blessed to work from home, for some reason I was so drained and tired. I grabbed my tote bag to head out the door despite how tired I was feeling because I had multiple patients to meet.
I was really pushing myself because I knew I had so much work to do. As I walked to the door, I remember being stopped in the middle of my tracks with numbness down my right side. It started from the top of my head and slowly moved down my face, shoulder, arm, and hand. My lips started to twist, and I literally stood in the middle of the floor stuck. It was almost like I was stuck in time.
As my arm went numb my purse hit the floor, and I stood there thinking, “I know I’m not having a stroke”. I started praying asking God to please keep me and not let me have a stroke and pass out. I never did lose feeling in my legs, so I walked into the bathroom to look in the mirror because my lips felt twisted. When I looked in the mirror my lips drooped slightly on the right.
As I stood there in the mirror and the feeling in my body started to return, I knew I could not ignore these symptoms. I knew that regardless of it only lasting for minutes, I had to get to the emergency room. I also know that time is a major factor in saving your life if you think you’re having a stroke. I have been in the healthcare industry as a registered nurse for almost 13 years and I know the signs and symptoms of a stroke but imagine all the people that don’t, and they ignore how they feel.
- numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
- confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding
- trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- severe headache with no known cause
That’s a lot to remember, so the American Heart Association has created a simple acronym, F.A.S.T. That stands for: