Tuesday, May 24, 2005

May is Stroke Awareness Month

I've been somewhat remiss in not reminding people that May is Stroke Awareness Month. As a very lucky stroke survivor (it was more like a warning shot across my bow) I am well aware that ignorance can kill or result in complications that might not be as severe if medical aid is immediately sought. For the most part, strokes are painless as are their precursors, transient ischemic attacks

Some good resources on stroke can be found here and at the American Stroke Association.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke lists the following five symptoms as the most common indicators of a stroke:

• Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arms or legs

• Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding others

• Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes

• Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination

• Sudden severe headache with no known cause

See this, too.

Recovery? Caught in time, things can be turned around. Sen. John McCain's wife, Cindy, is a stroke survivor who has been able to complete a half marathon as is set out here:
When Cindy McCain crossed the finish line last January, her feet had blisters and her legs were sore, but the wife of Sen. John McCain didn't mind. "I felt that I had really accomplished something," she says.

What Cindy had accomplished that day was a 13-mile half marathon. But her real achievement was surviving the race of her life. Of course, there had been other races: her husband's 2000 presidential bid, when the intensely private and protective Cindy was thrust into the rough-and-tumble world of a national campaign; his subsequent battle with skin cancer; her youngest daughter's ongoing reconstructive surgeries to fix a cleft lip and a cleft palate. But finishing this race was all about her.

On April 12, 2004, Cindy was having lunch with friends at a restaurant near her home in Phoenix. She felt under the weather, but she had just returned from Japan, so she attributed it to jet lag. But then she began having trouble with her vision, and her speech slurred.

"I worried that people would think I was drunk, but I knew something was really wrong with me," says Cindy. She took out her car keys, wanting to drive home. Fortunately, her friends realized something was amiss. They took her to Barrow Neurological Institute of St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix. The doctor there saw that Cindy was having a stroke, and she was admitted to the intensive care unit. "They moved so fast, it's all a bit of a blur," Cindy says.
Having friends recognize the problem and getting help quickly makes a huge difference.

My own plans include getting back to serious running, keeping weight off and blood pressure down. I ran 5 marathons before the stroke and my younger son says he'll train with me for number 6 (I hope in January in Houston). Keep an eye out for a slow guy with a big grin on his face...

And learn the symptoms of stroke! The life you save may be your own or that of someone you love.

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