Monday, February 21, 2011

Do You Know the Signs?

Today I'm giving you a peek into my life. Wednesday I'll focus on a writing tip.

Last week I read an article by Orson Scott Card. He is one of my favorite authors. He mentioned that he'd suffered from a stroke recently, which really surprised me. He's not that old. But neither am I, and I had a stroke a few years ago.

Strokes can happen to anyone.

There are many signs of stroke. Mine wasn't your typical slurred speech and side numbness. Let me tell you what happened.

Hubby and I had gone to Idaho for a family gathering. We were staying at my sister's place. We visited with her and her daughter for a while in the dinning room and then decided to move into the living room. As I sat down, I suddenly became confused. I didn't know if we were going somewhere or what, so I grabbed a gardening book next to her couch and concentrated on it. Most everyone else was watching TV, but I couldn't even follow the storyline of the show they were watching, which was very frightening. I was scared, but I didn't dare tell anyone. I was relieved when it came time to go to bed. I was hopeful that with a good night's sleep I'd wake up to find I was back to normal.

The next day I felt great. I was helping my sister cook. We were talking and joking around. All at once she looked at me and said, "You told me that last night. Don't you remember?" I had no recollection of what we'd talked about the night before. You have to know that my mother suffered with severe dementia at the time, so I was scared that for some reason I was having the early stages of Alzheimer's. I wasn't that old, but still the fear was with me. I quickly grew very quiet. The rest of the family arrived, but I still didn't say much because I was afraid of repeating myself. My younger brother noticed I wasn't talking much and cornered me, wanting to know what was wrong. I gave him a lame excuse, but made a mental note that as soon as I returned home I was going to make an appointment with my doctor.

When I went to see Dr. Baker, I really felt silly because I was fine. As soon as I told him what happened, he made an appointment for me to have an MRI. They found I'd had a stroke. This was the beginning of many doctor appointments with one specialists after another. I eventually learned that my stroke was caused by a hole in my heart and that I'd had that hole since I was a baby.

Did you know that everyone is born with a hole in their heart? It's true. Most of the time that hole closes, but for some people, like me, it doesn't. In my case, the hole triggered a stroke. A heart specialist implanted an atrial septal device in my heart. It's like a little umbrella that plugs the hole. That was many years ago.

Since a stroke like mine can happen to anyone, I thought you might like to know the signs of stroke.
  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the 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 know cause.
 So stay alert to the signs of stroke. It can happen to anyone. Just ask me or Orson Scott Card.

For more information on stroke or heart problems visit the American Heart and American Stroke Associations for more information by clicking here.


  1. I had no idea that Orson Scott Card had suffered a stroke. I hope that doesn't affect his writing career. It's really great that you have such a supportive, caring family who insisted you get this looked at.

  2. I had no idea you had a stroke a few years ago! Scary! I'm so glad the dr.s were able to discover the problem!

    Thank you for posting about this. It's important stuff that everyone should know.

  3. Karen,
    According to the article, Orson is much better. He is back to typing and writing his column. I really doubt it would stop him from writing his fantastic books.

    I am very grateful for my family. They helped me a lot.

    Thanks for stopping by. :)

  4. Laura,
    I was greatly relieved when the doctors found the cause. Now I'm good to go for another fifty thousand miles. ;)


  5. Kathy,
    Thank you for warning us about this. You seem too young to have a stroke and I thought I am too but it sounds like it can happen anytime. I knew the other signs but didn't realize the confusion part alone. Ok--I'm a hypochondriac . . . my poor husband. LOL

  6. Glad you're okay!

    Back in December, my mother had a mild heart attack and stroke. The stroke symptoms lasted for only a few minutes. Her hand suddenly refused to function.

    She's doing well now, but it was surprising that such a brief occurrence could be so serious.

  7. Terri,
    Until it happened to me, I didn't know either. Odds are it won't happen to you. But to set your mind at ease remember that knowledge is power. :)

  8. Susan,
    That had to be scary for both you and your mom. I hope she's doing better and takes good care of herself. :)

  9. I heard about OS Card. I hope he's okay, and thank goodness you are.
    I recently had some strange symptoms and went to see my doctor too. They found a heart arrhythmia and leaky valve. I'm not yet 40, so it was really unsettling. I'm glad doctors can help people with heart disease so well these days.

  10. Michelle,
    Thank goodness you sought out help and had a good doctor!!! You are way too young for that kind of scary health trouble. But I'm with you, thank heavens doctors can help so much with heart disease now days. It's amazing what they can do :)

  11. I'm glad you went to the doctor and are OK. What a scary thing! Thanks for posting the signs of a stroke here. Not everyone knows them. You may have saved a life.

  12. Carol,
    I'm glad it's behind me. I didn't know the signs of stroke until after I'd had one. I never thought that I might save a life. That would be so awesome. :)



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