Posts Tagged ‘Strokes’

More about Strokes…

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Ten years ago my mother- in-law was eighty years old and living many states away from us in Ohio.  She was a very active, retired school teacher who still volunteered at the library, socialized with her friends, took care of her own home and had many hobbies.  Many of her friends were retired teachers as well.  One day one of them picked her up to take her to a luncheon that they regularly attended.  My mother-in-law said that the entire group noticed that this particular friend was acting strangely during lunch but they could not pinpoint what the problem was.  As she was driving them home; she seemed confused, missed familiar turns, and ran over the curb several times.  Not wanting to be impolite or critical, the passengers said nothing and they each were delivered home eventually.  My mother-in-law called to ask me about her friend’s symptoms.  Could it be a stroke?  I urged her to call her friend and have her call EMS to take her to the hospital.  It was not until later, however, as her friend’s symptoms worsened, that she finally called for help and was taken to the hospital with a stroke. 

Often people know something is wrong when they or someone they are close to is having a stroke but they do not know exactly what it is so they do not do anything.  Sometimes symptoms are subtle at first.

 “My head is foggy today”, a typically alert eighty-five year old might say.

 “I can’t seem to find the right words”, an eloquently speaking seventy-nine  year old might complain. 

“My left leg just isn’t working right today.  I don’t know what’s wrong with it.  I keep bumping into things”, a normally steady, active eighty-three year old might voice.

 “I’m having trouble reading the paper today.  My eyes won’t focus”, a seventy-seven year old who is an avid reader might report.

 An attractive, young, female, TV sportscaster may begin to slur her words then speak gibberish in front of millions of viewers.  All of these sudden changes may be signs of a stroke or precursor of a stroke.  They are warnings of a potential medical problem that requires attention. 

A stroke involves damage to a portion of the brain.  The area of the brain affected will determine what the symptoms are.  The symptoms may vary considerably as the site of the damage varies.  Two people with a stroke may have very different symptoms.  One person’s stroke may affect only speech while another’s may affect their right arm or left leg.

I have always told my clients and their families to pay attention to their intuitions or instincts.  If you have a feeling something is wrong, then it probably is!  You don’t have to know what the problem is, just identify that there is a problem and then take action to get help.  You know yourself, family or friends and what is normal for each.  There are often warnings and you are the one that can spot the earliest indicators of a problem.  Do not worry about being wrong, exaggerating, or embarrassing someone.  It takes medical professionals and often diagnostic tests to determine what might be going on.  No one should expect you to know, only to make and share observations.  This is a time when you need to act as an advocate for yourself or your family or friend.  They will receive the best care if you do.  It could mean life or death or make the difference between maintaining quality of life and losing it.