Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Stroke Info That May Save Your Life

Location: Highway 509 RV Park; Mansfield, Louisiana

I have been in Mansfield for a couple of weeks now and will be here through Thanksgiving. The part of the RV park I'm in is an old mobile home park. The lots are very long and I'm in a nice location where there are trees to the north and west of me to help block any cold winds. The family house is about 5 miles from the RV park and is where my x-wife and youngest (30 years of age) son live. My oldest son lives about 3 hours away in south Louisiana while my daughter lives about 1 1/2 hours north near the Arkansas state line. Everyone will gather up at the family home for Thanksgiving. The menu is typically, turkey, dressing (pepperidge farms), homemade giblet gravy (my mothers recipe), green beans, yeast rolls, etc. It's good eating and we always ask why we only fix it once a year. No good answers. 

The number one "thankful thing" we will be thankful for this year is the stroke survival of my youngest son. For those that read the blog posts in the summer and early fall know that he suffered a stroke back in July. He lost movement in his right arm and leg but began to regain it about a month later. He has been going to Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy since about 2 weeks after the stroke. He has not regained 100% of his movement and I'm not sure what percentage it would be now. He is able to walk, open doors, drive a vehicle and take care of his physical hygiene. Improvement continues, but at a slower pace than what we were seeing during the first month or so after the stroke. Improvement continues for a lifetime. 

Just like a heart attack is an attack on the heart, a stroke is a "brain attack" and attacks the brain. It can happen to anyone at anytime. REPEAT,,, It can happen to anyone at anytime. It doesn't care about your age, color, weight, nationality or anything else. Sure, some things in your life increase the odds of you having a stroke, but remember, it can happen anytime to anyone.

There are two types of stroke:

The first, "hemorrgagic", is when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures or just leaks and the blood that comes out damages the brain. This is the least common type but is also the most deadly. It occurs in only 15% of strokes but accounts for more than 40% of stroke deaths.

The second, "ischemic", is the most common and occurs when a blood vessel in the brain is blocked by a blood clot or piece of plague which cuts off the blood flow and oxygen to the brain. The effects of this stroke depend on where in the brain it happened and how long the blood flow was cut off to the brain. The effects can range from numbness to total paralysis with losses of memory, speech, sight, etc.
The recovery process is the "re-wire" your brain. In my sons case, he had to re-learn how to walk, maintain balance and how to use his arm and fingers.

A subset of the second type is a TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack). It produces stroke-like symptoms that may last a few minutes or up to 24 hours. Most all of us have had or will have these at one time or another in our lifetime but never recognize it as a TIA. They usually do not cause permanent damage but should not be ignored. People who have had one or more TIA's are 10 times more likely to have a stroke. 

Some people make a full recovery after a stroke but 2/3 of stroke survivors will have some type of disability forever.

** Stroke is the 5th leading cause of death.
** Stoke is the leading cause of adult disability.
** After age 55, the chance of having a stroke doubles every 10 years.
** Women are twice as likely to die of a stroke than breast cancer annually
** High blood pressure is the Number 1 cause of a stroke
** If you are diabetic, you are 2 to 4 times more likely to have a stroke.

GOOD NEWS: 80% of all strokes can be prevented. 

The number one thing everyone should be aware of is their blood pressure. If it is higher than 140/90, then you have high blood pressure and should do something to bring it down. I won't get into all of the ways to bring it down since that is an individuals choice. A blood pressure machine is cheap and easy to use at home. It is truly, the "silent killer".

I won't go into the importance of controlling your diabetes if you are diabetic. If you are, then surely you already know the importance of it.

Smoking greatly increases your chances of having a stroke, but smokers already know this. My son was a smoker before the stroke but the part of the brain that controls the urge to smoke must have been damaged because he had zero urge to smoke after the stroke. 

Other things that a reasonable person should be aware of are heredity, cholesterol levels, excessive weight, excessive drinking of alcohol, heart problems, etc. This is NOT a complete list. If you need more information, there are excellent sources online. 

Everyone should be aware of the acronym FAST and remember it if you suspect someone is having a stroke. It stands for:
Face -- ask the person to smile. Does one side droop?
Arms -- ask the person to raise both arms. Does one drift downward
Speech -- ask the person to repeat a simple phrase such as "Mary had a little lamb". Is the speech slurred or strange.
Time -- if you observe any of the syptoms above, call 9-1-1 and get to a medical facility as quick as possible.

Sidenote: Parents,,, when teaching your children how to call 9-1-1 be sure to say each numeral separately such as 9,,,,, 1,,,,,, 1. Do NOT say "nine eleven". There have been instances where small children have tried to call for help and searched in vain for the number eleven on the phone. 

Ok, I've rambled on long enough. This is suppose to be a travel blog but since I'm not traveling for a month, I guess I will write whatever comes to mind. 

I sure hope this post has sparked a little interest in you. At least to make you aware of some things that could affect you dramatically.

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road. 


  1. Thank you for the information. I do pay attention.

    1. You're welcome Barney. Have a good Thanksgiving

  2. Great information and a great refresher on strokes. So glad your son survived this and is improving. It sounds like you are going to have an awesome Thanksgiving!

  3. Thanks Dale. Happy Thanksgiving to you.

  4. Good job giving the information on strokes. The signs are extremely important and time is critical.

    1. Thanks Pat. Stroke is like Russian Roulette if you're not aware.

  5. Thanks Darrell . We're all getting older and hopefully wise . Give your whole bunch out best wishes. Some of us will be there for Thanksgiving but more for Christmas when you're back on the road!