Dear people, can I ask you a couple of favors?
For background, let me tell you about a couple of my friends.
E just got out of the hospital. She had a stroke on Tuesday night. Her scans and her doctor confirm that she sustained no lasting damage from the experience.
S had a stroke, too, a year and some ago. He spent a good deal of time in the hospital, and now he's got language and mobility problems.
The significant difference between these two people is that E got medical help quickly. She was with someone who recognized the symptoms of a stroke as they occurred†, and called for help immediately. S, for reasons that seemed good at the time*, delayed calling the ambulance.
So. First favor. Read this good, approachable post on strokes. The whole thing is worth your time, but the key information is this list of symptoms:
- Sudden onset weakness, numbness, or tingling, particularly one-sided.
- Facial droop, particularly one-sided.
- Slurred speech, or aphasia, or suddenly using inappropriate words.
- Unexplained blurred vision, particularly one-sided.
- "The worst headache of my life." (Thunderclap headache.)
Not every stroke will have all of these symptoms, but if you see this tendency, think "stroke" and get dialing.
The second favor also comes with yet another friend story. B went to the doctor the other day, and has since been sent to the cardiologist. It's everyone's fervent hope that she won't ever call an ambulance—on time or late—because preventative care reduces the chance of having a stroke in the first place.**
So if you don't know your blood pressure, dear readers, nor your stroke risks, can you go get yourself checked out? I know it seems like a stinking nuisance so soon after the stinking nuisance of the holidays, but going to the emergency room is even more of a pain.
In short, be B. Failing that, be E. Otherwise, S will be most vexed with you.
As will I.
† Partly because of S's experience
* Uninsured in America**
** Anyone wonder why I get worked up about health insurance and health care reform?