Go Red for American Heart Month
It's that time of year again, time to dig out my best red outfit in support of National Wear Red Day on February 1st. Each year, I attend a luncheon sponsored by the American Heart Association. I typically cover the event for our local newscast as well. During the luncheon, there are several guest speakers including doctors and survivors. Each year, the survivors' stories are so amazing to me. It's interesting to hear about how they survived heart disease and stroke. Many of the stories seem so tragic in the beginning. They talk about how it seemed there was no hope and that death was inevitable. Then, by some miracle, they survive. I can relate all to well to their stories. I too, had a brush with death. During my massive stroke in 2001, I remember wondering if I would survive. I prayed I would and luckily I did. Lucky, that's truely what I was just because I got to the emergency room in time. I got help because my co-workers forced me to go.
I don't know why I went to the emergency room so fast. I really didn't think I was having a stroke. I knew something wasn't right, but I thought there had to be a logical reason behind it and that reason wasn't anything to get all worked up over. I knew very little about strokes. I knew basically what they were and how they affected a person, but I thought they were limited to the elderly. As ignorant as it may sound, I really thought strokes happend to older folks, not 31-year-olds like I was at the time. It really scares me to think about what may have happened had I not gone to the emergency room. What if I had been home alone? I probably would have just rested and tried to wait for the stroke symptoms to pass. I think I would have eventually gone to the E.R., but it probably would have been too late. I feel I'm lucky to be alive because my friends and co-workers forced me to go get checked out, not because I was aware of what was happening to me. So, this is why I tell my story. I want people to realize what stroke is and that it can happen to women, young women at any time in their lives. It may seem to happen without warning, but not if you know the signs.
Numbness, blurred vision, drawn face, limping or loss of mobility on one side of the body are just some of the symptoms of stroke. These warning signs should tell you to get help right away and not to wait. I made it within three hours and was able to have an aggressive treatment of tPA, a clot-busting drug that dissolved my blood clot within minutes. Even though it took me six months of rehabilitation, I made a full recovery. I wish more heart and stroke patients could have my outcome. But I believe each year they do, that the number of survivors is increasing because of survivors like me who continue to tell our stories.