Sunday, April 8, 2012

Stroke Has 19 Definitions Part 1 of 2

This is a two part article written by our buddy Chuck Hofvander. Part 2 will run next week

Stroke Has 19 Definitions Part 1 of 2
by Chuck Hofvander
Stroke has 19 definitions. It can mean a stroke of good luck, a rowing style, a caressing movement, etc and all mean something positive. Only one meaning has a negative meaning, sudden blockage or rupture of a blood vessel in the brain resulting in loss of consciousness, partial loss of movement, or loss of speech.
I prefer to use attack, to be more specific Brain Attack. Brain Attack is defined as: To harm using extreme, destructive, or uncontrollable force to the controlling center of the nervous system in humans. The brain is the center of thought and emotions, and bodily activities.
Thank you for taking the time to listen to me today, and you’ll really have to listen. I’m sure you’d rather be doing something else but hopefully something you hear today will help you, a relative or a friend someday. Here’s what I’ll attempt to cover:
·        Scare you and make you aware to the dangers of stroke
·        Tell you some facts about stroke
·        How stroke can affect you and others
·        How it affected me and others


Brain Attack/stroke is not a well understood yet it is:

• the number one cause of disability in the US


Everybody should know the warning signs.

Some facts:
• Three million American’s are currently permanently disabled from stroke
• More than half a million people in the US have a stroke each year

A stroke does not discriminate when choosing its victims. A stroke will strike people of all ages, sex and race. No one is immune
In fact, on average, every 40 seconds someone in the United States suffers a stroke.
The medical cost to handle stroke victims in the United Sates alone, exceeds $30 billion. Yes. 30 billion dollars.
As is the case in most medical issues, the average public remains unaware, until it happens to them and by then, it is too late. Recognizing the symptoms and acting FAST, can save a life. And that life you save, could be your own.
A simple acronym for understanding the symptoms of a stroke is FAST. Convenient, since acting FAST is important to minimizing damage and saving lives.
• F= Face – Smile. Does one side of the face droop?
• A= Arm - Try to raise your arms. Does one drift downward?
• S= Speech - Are your words slurred? Can you repeat any sentence correctly?
• T= Time - If you have any of these symptoms call 911. Time is of the essence.

It’s important to act FAST because brain cells are dying by the minute. By acting FAST up to 80% of Brain Attacks can minimize the damage.

Stroke is not a good word to describe the devastating effects it has on one's life. A brain attack happens fast and sometimes without warning.
I had lived my life never really knowing a stroke was. Or how it affects people, especially the families of stroke victims. Boy was I in for a surprise.
I was 52 years old when I had my brain attack. It was on March 21, 2004. My wife was attending a bridal shower and my two sons were both working. All in all, I had been living a simple normal life.

I was home alone on that leisurely Sunday afternoon. In my basement, doing, of all things, my routine exercises. I began to feel a little light headed and decided to go upstairs. The symptoms suddenly began to worsen and I felt like I was going to pass out. The last thing I remember was going into the family room. I learned later, that there was where my wife found me when she returned home. The attack lasted maybe five minutes. Five little minutes. Two and half hours later, my wife found me in our family family, staring at death's gate.
I don't wish to brag, but, in many ways, I have been a very fortunate man. I mean, I've always been healthy and very happy in my personal life. I have wonderful home in the suburbs that I share with my lovely wife and together, we've made a home for two wonderful boys. I have also been fortunate in my professional life. Starting as a clerk, I worked my way up and succeeded in becoming a corporate executive. I've always eaten well, drank moderately, and I exercised regularly, four to five a week.
Who could have imagined that five minutes little minutes were to change 52 years of life.
When I was brought into the Emergency Room at the Northwest Community Hospital, the attending doctor gave my wife little, if any hope, for my survival. The neurosurgeon advised my family, that if she didn’t operate in the next 30 minutes, I would, in all likelihood, die!

Imagine your loved ones being told that surgery held no guarantees. That even if the surgeon operated, you might still end up in a coma for the rest of your life, or possibly, (pause), die on the table.

The priest in attendance was contacted, (pause), and he administered MY last rights.
Brad, my 20 year old son, was beside himself, lost in a daze of unimaginable disbelief. Mathew, my 17 year old, broke down in tears, falling to the floor, he begged God - “please don’t let Dad die”.

My wife, Liz, did the only thing she could do. She granted surgeon permission to operate, and pleaded with the doctor to do her best.
When they opened my skull, they found hemorrhaging - a blood vessel had bursts inside my brain. The blood had collected in one area, creating a swelling that amassed to the size of baseball. With limited room in the human skull, it pressed my brain against one side on skull.
After the surgery, I spent five days in a coma. For my family, it seemed that the doctor's predictions were right.

On my son Brian's 21st birthday, nine days after my brain attack, nine days after the uncertain surgery, nine days after I was given my last rights - I awoke.

Brain said it was the best birthday present he had ever received. I was gratefully touched when hearing that.

NOTE: From the blog moderator - If you found this article, Part 1,  interesting, Part 2 will be posted here 4/16/2012.

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