Stroke Happens

How do you recognize when it is you are having Stroke? How do you react when you are having Stroke?

All these can be readily answered, with prescribed ways to handle yourself, given the right circumstances. But from my personal experience, when it hits, it doesn't take a whole long while before the effects grab at you and leave you helpless.

I remember a story from Jason, my bed-neighbor (in Ward 18 in Changi Hospital), whereby his second Stroke (yes, it happens twice in your life) hit him while he was about to go to work. He was locked in his own home alone for nearly seven hours, before police came to bang-down the front door of his house to get to him.

Apparently he had the notion to call his office (having the experience from the first Stroke, he was prepared) while lying on the floor from the effects of Stroke, and apparently the story went that his secretary thought it was a prank joke played on her on the phone, as his speech had by then was affected (when I first knew him in the ward, his speech was badly slurred). He got thru subsequently it seems.

Being alone when it happens? Man, that story sends chills down my spine.

On the other end of the spectrum, I was told another occurrence, this time by Alex, my bed-neighbor in St Andrews. Apparently he had experienced the event throughout an entire day, and not know about it! He even continued at work, and drove the car home. Until an uneasy feeling (and as well advise from his wife) made him visit the doctor's the next day, who promptly told him he had Stroke!

Not knowing you've got it, and still carry on with the day? Spine-chills, you get the picture.

Regardless of how extremely discomforting or even cluelessly uneventful, the effects of Stroke ultimately leaves a person paralyzed to a certain degree, and steps need to be taken to rehabilitate and make that right again. Rehabilitation is "after the fact", and as necessary as it is, this is not what the post is about.

Jason's speech got better and better within the month I was lying beside him (hence he could tell me his story), while Alex's ability to walk improved as the days went on, while we were both doing rehab, within the month we spent together in the same ward.

Yes, there is hope for recovery, and yes Stroke is devastating. But what may be different from each other, is how and when Stroke happened, and how some stories are absolutely different, or the same altogether.

Here are some "simple" warning signs of a Stroke (via Snopes.com):

- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.

- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding.

- Sudden trouble seeing in one of both eyes.

- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.

- Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.

You would notice ALL of the above has "Sudden" mentioned. Simply because generally Stroke hits you quick and you feel the effects just as quick (although not in the case of Alex ;p). Essentially, Stroke happens when blood flow to your brain is disrupted, which affects all or some of the points mentioned above. Quite ironically, it is the literal metaphor or someone sneaking up behind you and SUDDENLY attacks you by the neck ~ because that is what Stroke literally does, with the veins most times situated at the back of the neck being affected!

For me, I had headaches first, followed by numbness on my right-side, followed by loss of balance and sight, and eventually speech. [How it begun for me].

I really do not know for a fact how to even get prepared for this. Have your telephone near you always? Always be near other folks? All I or anyone else can do, is to spread the word and let folks know about what needs to be done. Know that the first 24 hours is crucial, so don't dally about, not that you have time to anyways!

Seriously, when all of the above hits you suddenly, it really needs you to have strength of mind to no freakout and to execute even the simplest task of calling for help, be it on phone, or screaming out to people around you. Hell I was clueless about my condition to even begun to freakout (which now, sorta freaks me out a little), but I thank my graces everyday, that I still lived with my parents, and that my dad and sister were present in the room, when I had my episode.


P/S: I had the notion for this article while having a conversation with a rehab-volunteer today. Eric asked me how it begun, and I realized not a whole lot of folks ask that (well, folks "in the know" of course), while most folks outside of the illness are more concerned with "what lead to it". I would not deny "Prevention" might perhaps be a good "ciure" to Stroke, but perhaps an educated knowledge of it, can help as well.

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