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HEALTHY LIVING — Recognizing stroke symptoms, even when they aren’t there

Today’s column was inspired by recent events in my very own home. I have thought of myself as well informed, competent and watchful over health matters. Turns out, not so much.

Sometimes a stroke happens gradually, but you’re likely to have one or more sudden symptoms like these:

  • Numbness or weakness in your face, arm, or leg, especially on one side
  • Confusion or trouble understanding other people
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Trouble seeing with one or both eyes
  • Problems walking or staying balanced or coordinated
  • Dizziness
  • Severe headache that comes on for no reason

I knew to watch for these symptoms and I knew to do the F.A.S.T. test:

  • Face drooping — Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven or lopsided?
  • Arm weakness — Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech — Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence.
  • Time to Call 9-1-1 — If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.

My husband had a very mild (thankfully) stroke a couple of weeks ago. The only symptoms he had were mild confusion and lethargy over a period of two weeks. At the end of the second week, he had heaviness in his arms and leg that culminated in losing the use of his left arm and weakness in his left leg, no other symptoms. I checked blood pressure regularly; it stayed normal.

I took him to our family doctor, who sent him on to the ER in Beaumont. The facility transferred him to the Stroke Unit in a well-known hospital in Houston. After many tests, it was found he had a very mild stroke in the smallest vein in his brain that controls primarily the left arm and leg.

He was released after two days and we are doing follow-ups with local doctors and physical and occupational therapy for a month. He is making amazing progress and returned to work this week.

The purpose of today’s column is to alert you to be aware, ANY changes are to be taken seriously. Better safe than sorry. Take care, my friends.