Warning Signs of an Impending Stroke
I learned of this only after it was too late.
Early March 1999, a Sunday morning. I was at my parents’ place for the weekend, home from working on my health ed degree. We were on our way to a restaurant we often frequented for breakfast. My mother related to me not long before she passed away in 2011 what happened that morning. I was driving. My dad was in the passenger seat. She was behind him.
Suddenly she couldn’t remember our names.
She said she looked down at the crossword puzzle she’d been working, and saw only a blur of marks on paper, unintelligible.
By the time we got to the restaurant (it was roughly a 15-minute drive), her head had cleared. She recalled our names.
And said nothing to either of us as we got breakfast. I don’t remember noticing anything out of the ordinary.
When she told me this, I wanted to scream, Why didn’t you tell someone??!!
But what good would it have done at that point?
Maybe writing this down will help someone else.
Because on April 15, my mother suffered a massive stroke in the left hemisphere of her brain. She spent the rest of her life with her right side partially paralyzed, unable to use her right hand.
What is a stroke?
It’s one of two things: either a clot interrupts the flow of blood to some part of the brain, or a blood vessel ruptures in the brain. In either case, that portion of the brain doesn’t get the oxygen it needs. Nerve cells that don’t get oxygen die within minutes.
Whatever part of the body those cells service then fails to get the usual instructions from the brain. It shuts down.
The result is weakness or partial or total paralysis, sudden linguistic or cognitive dysfunction, changes in vision, or other problems.
According to the American Stroke Association, strokes are the fifth largest cause of premature death in the U.S.
I say premature, because most are preventable.