What is a Stroke?
According to the NHS website, stroke is a medical emergency and is where the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. This is really serious and scary because the brain needs blood and oxygen and if it doesn’t get it then it literally begins to die which can lead to brain injury, disability and possibly death.
There are 2 main causes of strokes:
ischaemic – where the blood supply is stopped because of a blood clot, accounting for 85% of all cases (this was the cause of my husband’s stroke)
haemorrhagic – where a weakened blood vessel supplying the brain bursts
Read on for what causes these clots and bleeds
The scary thing for me was that I didn’t know that Mac had even had a stroke, as I mention earlier he went a whole day and night before we went to hospital and given the urgency of the condition, I feel quite sick and guilty that I didn’t do something earlier. But the thing is, he had none of the symptoms I was familiar with. The NHS lists the symptoms as follows:
The main stroke symptoms can be remembered with the word FAST:
Face – the face may have dropped on 1 side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have drooped.
Arms – the person may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in 1 arm.
Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake; they may also have problems understanding what you’re saying to them.
Time – it’s time to dial 999 immediately if you notice any of these signs or symptoms.
My husband had none of this, so stroke didn’t immediately spring to mind. I knew the above things to look for, I had watched the public service announcements, read the leaflets and looked at the posters while sat in doctors waiting rooms and what happened to my husband was not that.
He could walk, a bit unsteady sure, but he could walk, he was able to eat and lift his arms and his face & speech were perfectly normal.
Reading further down the page on the website you see ‘other signs and symptoms may include’
- complete paralysis of 1 side of the body
- sudden loss or blurring of vision
- difficulty understanding what others are saying
- problems with balance and co-ordination
- difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
- a sudden and very severe headache resulting in a blinding pain unlike anything experienced before
- loss of consciousness
The only thing I can pick out that my husband suffered was problems with balance and co-ordination. And given the fact that we didn’t know he had high blood pressure or high cholesterol (two main causes of stroke), we just didn’t put two and two together.
So please, if you do nothing else today, go and get yourself checked out, ask for blood tests and read the list of symptoms carefully (not just the FAST ones) the other ones too, it might just be the difference between life and death. And if you notice any of the symptoms in this article, go to the hospital or, if you feel like it might be too much trouble, then at least phone the doctor and get medical advice.
Again, I don’t want to seem dramatic, after all as I sit here any type my husband is in front of the computer, working more or less the same as he was before the stroke, yet not the same at all.
I feel incredibly lucky that he had what is termed, a mild stroke’ everyone in the hospital said it had been a warning to change, to do things differently, to start looking after ourselves. The changes began in hospital, of course they did, there is not much else to do is there? I had managed to get my youngest organised to stay with a friend so I could go and stay with Mac in hospital, I was with him for 9 days. And even though the time in hospital was awful (I will write about this in a blog post) I woke up every single morning (from an uncomfortable hospital chair) grateful to have him, and to have him as he is – because looking around the ward, things could have been, and are for so many people, so much worse.