By Kathy Gaillard
Dora Chambers was leaving home, on her way to the store, when she lost her footing and fell halfway down the steps. She assumed she was alright, got into her car and drove to the store. When she returned home, she called the doctor’s office because she felt a ‘little off’ and told them about her fall. They insisted she get someone to drive her to the hospital right away, so she did.
“My niece took me to the hospital and after an exam and some tests, the doctor told me I had had a stroke. I didn’t think I would have to stay in the hospital because I wasn’t feeling that bad, but they kept me. After a day or so in the hospital, I ended up having to go to rehab for a couple of weeks. I had to learn to walk again and use a walking stick to get around. The stroke didn’t affect my speech. I’m always running my mouth. That’s never been a problem,” Chambers said jokingly.
May is National Stroke Awareness Month, which began in May 1989. It was created to promote public awareness of and reduce the incidence of stroke in the United States.
According to the American Heart Association, many things have changed in the last several years for the better around stroke care and awareness, but when having a stroke, timely care is critical for better outcomes.
Chambers had her first stroke in 2012. Since then, she’s had another stroke. Each time, she has missed or dismissed the warning signs. Her second stroke occurred when she was attending church service. Julia Means, RN, an Ascension parish nurse who works at Ebenezer Church of God in Christ, was on hand to help facilitate Chambers’ immediate care.
Thankfully, because of Means’ quick thinking, Chambers survived the second stroke with no permanent or debilitating consequences.
“Several parishioners came to me in a panic to tell me that Dora didn’t look right. I did an assessment on her and told her that she needed to go to the hospital. She was in complete denial and said she was not going anywhere. One of the church members told me that she listens to her son who was not in church that day, so I called her son who came and took her to the hospital right away,” Means said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds, and every four minutes, someone dies of stroke.
It’s important to know the warning signs and symptoms of stroke so that you can act fast if you or someone you know might be having a stroke. The chances of survival are greater when emergency treatment begins quickly. Patients who arrive at the emergency room within three hours of their first symptoms often have less disability three months after a stroke than those who receive delayed care. Here are some signs to look for if you or someone you know may be having a
Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “the sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
TIME TO CALL 9-1-1
If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.
(Source: American Heart Association)