Saturday, December 17, 2011

What you should know if you have a stroke

Please note:  if you don't want this entire post, I beg of you, scroll to the bottom and read the part about stroke symptoms. It's extremely important. Paste it into an email and send it to everyone you know and love.

Where has the time gone? I haven't posted for four weeks. Have I really been that busy? 

I have been busy with trying to keep my sister's medical and financial manners in order. It's not an easy task and not one I would wish on my worst enemy. Lesson learned from this catastrophic event: DO NOT HAVE A DEBILITATING STROKE! More on this later.

I've been busy with work. I'm back at it and have a giant, scary project in front of me. Scary, as in I don't know how the hell I'm going to meet my deadline.

I've also been getting back into a daily exercise routine, which is something that was severely lacking for the last three months. Since my sister's September 21 stroke, I have not made myself a priority. My sister was number one on my radar. I fell into second place.

I read my last post and actually laughed out loud. I was really in the spirit of weight loss the day I posted that entry. Then I went to Fairbanks for a week and got caught up in the circumstances surrounding my sister. Weight loss and my health weren't important anymore.

Then I came down with the flu while in Fairbanks.  Right in the middle of my week that was jam-packed with tasks. Somehow I made it through it, after holding up in my hotel room for 24 hours, living off of NyQuil.

Then it was back to work, to a world from where I'd been missing for most of four months. Since I broke my wrist August 6 I've either been out on extended illness leave for my wrist or on PTO for my sister.

I forgot what normal felt like. It's actually kind of nice to sit in my cubicle, in front of my computer and think about something other than my sister's tragedy. Her health and how I'm going to pay her bills, and function as her guardian and conservator have consumed me for the last three months. Stepping back into my real world was nice, but a shock to my system.

The last two weeks I've been exhausted. All I want to do is sleep. I'm not sure if it's the after effects of the flu or post traumatic shock syndrome of dealing with all things related to my sister. It's probably been a combination of both.

I didn't follow Weight Watchers nor did I count calories or track my food. Not even for a single day.

The past week I made it to the gym four times, two 30-minute workouts, one hour and 20-minute workout (Thursday) and yesterday for an hour. I feel my strength and energy coming back, although my left arm is still weak. Three months in a cast has pretty much decimated most of my muscle in my left arm. I still use 15 or 20 pounds on my right arm, but only 10 or 12 pounds on my left arm. Even the lighter weights are a struggle. I guess it'll just take time.

My weight today at home is 183.4. Since I was 184.4 at Weight Watchers four weeks ago, this means I've really gained a pound or two (since I weighed with clothes and after breakfast at Weight Watchers). If you're wondering, I'm going back to Weight Watchers today.

Considering all I've gone through in the last four weeks, there will be no "beating up of Diana" today. If there's one thing I've learned from the last four months, it's don't sweat the small stuff. There's enough big shit to worry about in life without worrying about the minutia.

Two pounds will come off easily, and the other thirty or so will come off too (albeit not quite as easy). I feel back in control of my eating and exercise. I care about what happens to me. I don't want to end up like my sister, stressed out about life, with high blood pressure and having a stroke. Trust me, you really don't want to go there. It's truly a fate worse than death.

Read this! 

I took the information below from A family member that talked to my sister at 10 a.m. on the day of my sister's stroke said later that she had slurred speech that morning. Since my sister doesn't drink, this was a definite sign of a stroke. The family member is a trained CNA, and has taken numerous nursing classes. Yet she didn't recognize the slurred speech as a symptom of a stroke. She has expressed great remorse about this, but it doesn't matter now. It's too late for my sister, but maybe this will help someone else.

My sister wasn't taken to the hospital until 10 p.m. that night. Twelve hours after her first sign of having a stroke. This unfortunately sealed her fate to a life of being unable to speak, paralyzed and bedridden. If only she'd been taken to the emergency room that morning, things probably would have turned out so much better.

Please read it and remember it. The most important thing is to remember is get to an emergency room as quickly as possible. Time is critical. There's a drug they can give you that will actually stop the damage from the stroke. It's called a t-PA drip (one of the clot-busting drugs, there are others). The doctors in Fairbanks told me about it, but you have to get it within three hours of the first stroke symptom. It doesn't always work, but it gives you a fighting chance. My sister got to the hospital too late, and it's ruined her life.

Every minute-and-a-half, on average, someone in America suffers a stroke.

Warning Signs of Stroke

Learn the many warning signs of a stroke. Act FAST and CALL 9-1-1 IMMEDIATELY at any sign of a stroke.

Use FAST to remember the warning signs: 

NOTE THE TIME WHEN ANY SYMPTOMS FIRST APPEAR. If given within three hours of the first symptom, there is an FDA-approved clot-buster medication that may reduce long-term disability for the most common type of stroke. There are also two other types of stroke treatment available that might help reduce the effects of stroke. Read more about stroke treatment.
Learn as many stroke symptoms as possible so you can recognize stroke as FAST as possible. Click here to download the FAST Wallet Card to keep a reminder of stroke warning signs with you wherever you go!
Stroke symptoms include:
  • SUDDEN numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg - especially on one side of the body.
  • SUDDEN confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
  • SUDDEN trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • SUDDEN trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • SUDDEN severe headache with no known cause.

Call 9-1-1 immediately if you have any of these symptoms


Deb said...

What a month! I actually was worried about you and glad to see your post today. So sorry about your sister..I'm thinking of you!

Dawn said...

You have done very well to keep your weight so stable in what can only be described as the most challenging and stressful of circumstances.
I don't know what your project is but we both work in the same industry and I'm a very efficient administrator so if there is anything you could delegate via email like statistics or data analysis I could help out. I imagine there isn't but please let me know if there is.
Take care and look after yourself as well as you do everyone else!

kristi said...

I think you are awesome. I have gained 8 lbs and cannot seem to get it off..hope you regain your strength soon.

Grace said...

With all you are/have been going sounds like you need to sleep for about a week. I know when I left for vacation, I spent the first 3 days sleeping...and I wasn't experiencing any stress like you have for the past 6 months. Take care of yourself, Diana.

Thank you for the information about stroke. My husband had some funny stroke-like symptoms about 6 years ago. I called 911 immediately, and the paramedics got him to the hospital right away. To this day, we still do not know what happened, as there was no evidence of a stroke on any test they gave him. Still, the bottom line is...if you have any of those symptoms, get immediate help.

Jane Cartelli said...

Thank you for taking the time to educate and instruct. THANK YOU. I know your time is limited and that you did take it to help others is testimony to just have devastating the results of a stroke are on the family left to care for the patient.

Have a healthy and safe holiday.

jane at

Maren said...

I think it's really great that you posted these symptoms to look for - it's really, really important!

I just found your blog through another blog, and I see that you've lost a lot of weight! Very inspirational :)

jinxxxygirl said...

I'm so sorry your sister didn't make it to the hospital sooner. And i'm so glad you are not beating yourself up about diet and exercise at this time. It will all come together and all you can do is the best you can do.

There was an older gentleman that worked in plumbing department at the store where i worked and we always said goodmorning every day. Well one morning his speech was slurred when he said goodmorning and when he looked at me half his face looked like it was hanging lower than other. I called management and got him to agree to sit in the breakroom. I'll never understand why they called his wife to come get him instead of an ambulance but reguardless he made it to the hospital on time and received the medicine you mentioned and he and his wife had many more happy years together. Thank you so much for mentioning the signs for stroke. I so wish with all my heart your sister had received the help she needed. I hope everybody remembers if you notice the signs of a stroke you are on a timer! Hugs! deb

Mer and Mo said...

Glad to get an update from you. You will get back to a normal, but I am inspired that you have stepped up to help your sister. Many would not do that. She is lucky to have you. Hope that things seem to be settling down a bit. Are you going to see her for Christmas? Is she moving closer to you, soon? I am praying that all continues to get better for all involved, especially your sister!!!
Much happiness to you during this Holiday Season.


Katie J ♥ said...

My mom had one in September and I noticed the signs (I was at work) because she said she could not see and was confused and not making much sense.

THANK YOU for posting these warning signs! It is something we should ALL be aware of. Strokes can happen at ANY age.

I feel ya on the getting back to work. Most of the last three months I was out for my wrist or my mom so it was good to get back in the swing of things.

We love you doll and keep us posted when you can. I hope you manage to have a good weekend. xoxo

Deniz said...

Oh Diana, I agree that it's so important to recognise stroke symptoms. They can change life so utterly in such a small space of time. I'm operating on heightened alert to symptoms these days after lovely hubby had two TIAs about a year ago.

You are such an amazing inspiration, you know. Not only for the whole weight loss thing (congrats for keeping that under control, btw) but most especially for the loving and caring person you are. You are a fabulous sister and one hell of a lady.

Hope work pressures don't get too much on top of everything else. Remember to take care of 'you' in there somewhere along the line and may 2012 be a better year by far.

RNegade said...

Thank you very much for listing these warning signs to watch out for! I repeated them to my family and friends after reading your great reminder here. You may have saved a life, or made a future much brighter by taking the time to post these. Time is critical--as you well know! Glad to hear you are taking things in stride, as best you can given the stress and worries. Your sister is sure fortunate to have you in her life. You are such a kind and loving person--not to mention your great sense of humor, which, I imagine has been crucial to get through much of the past few weeks! Thinking of you fondly! (((hugs)))

Lisa said...

Thank you for posting this. I had TWO strokes when I was 25 for unknown reasons and I have had almost a complete recovery thank the Good Lord. Time is so important. so sorry about your sister. :(

The title of this post is a joke, there's no new me. It's just the same old me, doing the same old stuff. Just for fun, I went back...