The great stroke of 2012.
Surprisingly, I have never written about my stroke.
I write about most things, but not about the most significant event in my life.
I write this 6 years after my stroke in 2018 as National Stroke Week commences.
I must begin with my “symptoms” because I dismissed the warning signs which may have changed the outcome.
A STROKE happens in Australia every 5 minutes and a person dies every 15 minutes because of strokes.
My Symptoms: dizzy – male 57 years old
The most noticeable symptom I experienced was dizziness in the week prior to my stroke.
I don’t remember any other symptom except this feeling which I describe as “dizziness” but it was a loss of equilibrium (balance) whenever I was standing or walking.
Being typically male, I stupidly dismissed it and hoped it would just go away.
I didn’t fall over but I generally felt unwell, tired and unsteady on my feet.
Day 5, I experienced a TIA. A transient ischaemic attack (TIA) happens when the blood supply to your brain is blocked temporarily. The signs are the same as for a stroke, but they disappear within a short time. I was presented to hospital which ran tests but a diagnosis failed to suspect stroke.
Day 8, after having a couple of beers, pizza and watching football on tv I went to bed early not feeling well. I woke up feeling very unwell around midnight. I was experiencing the first signs of a stroke, nausea, dizziness, loss of balance and headache. After managing to get headache tablets from the kitchen, I collapsed on the bedroom floor and started vomiting.
My partner Lynda called an ambulance that arrived within 10 minutes of the call. Unaware of what a stroke was or what its symptoms were, I remember saying to the medic that I was having a stroke.
I had an Ischaemic stroke (is-key-mick), a stroke caused by a blood clot in Carotid artery.
I was rushed to the Austin Hospital which luckily for me is only a short distance (5.6km) away. As luck would have it, the Austin is one of the leading hospitals in Australia when it comes to dealing with and managing a stroke.
What Next = blood pressure test
If you’re experiencing dizziness or feeling lightheaded, the best next step is a blood pressure test.
- Many chemists offer free blood pressure tests.
- Blood Pressure APP – Download and install, run and check your blood pressure.
- Blood Pressure tester – we now have a monitor at home
Record the date, time, systolic and diastolic pressures. You should also record any special circumstances like any recent exercise, meal, or stressful event.
Analyse your result
- Blood Pressure Calculator – Find out your blood pressure (BP) risk category by entering your age, sex and most recent blood pressure measurement into the calculator.
- Blood pressure chart – Use a blood pressure chart below to see what your blood pressure means.
The Cause of MY Stroke
In the months leading up to my stroke, I had inadvertently stopped regular exercise.
Testing after the stroke revealed:
- High blood pressure
- Toxic thyroid
After MY Stroke
I was extremely lucky, if one can say ‘lucky’ after having a stroke.
How do you know if someone is having a stroke? Think… F.A.S.T.
The Stroke Foundation recommends the F.A.S.T. test as an easy way to remember the most common signs of stroke.
Using the F.A.S.T. test involves asking these simple questions:
- Face Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?
- Arms Can they lift both arms?
- Speech Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
- Time Is critical. If you see any of these signs call 000 straight away.
Think F.A.S.T., act FAST
A stroke is always a medical emergency. The longer a stroke remains untreated, the greater the chance of stroke-related brain damage.
Facial weakness, arm weakness and difficulty with speech are the most common symptoms or signs of stroke, but they are not the only signs.
Other signs of stroke
The following signs of stroke may occur alone or in combination:
- Weakness or numbness or paralysis of the face, arm or leg on either or both sides of the body
- Difficulty speaking or understanding
- Dizziness, loss of balance or an unexplained fall*
- Loss of vision, sudden blurring or decreased vision in one or both eyes
- Headache, usually severe and abrupt onset or unexplained change in the pattern of headaches
- Difficulty swallowing
Sometimes the signs disappear within a short time, such as a few minutes. When this happens, it may be a transient ischaemic attack (TIA).
If you or someone else experiences the signs of stroke, no matter how long they last, call 000 immediately.