Monday, May 12, 2014

May is National Stroke Month

May is National Stroke Awareness Month.

It has special meaning for me as a survivor of two strokes last year. It's a difficult and challenging illness no matter your age, your health prior to having a stroke or the change in lifestyle brought on by having a stroke.

Each year over 800,000 people a year are affected by strokes. It is a brain disorder that can rob you of motor skills, speech, or cognitive functions.

The last stroke I had in December caused me to spend time in a rehabilitation hospital. I had a team of doctors, nurses and aides devoted to making sure that I got the best care possible. Mine was somewhat strange because they still don't know what caused it. I will say, learning how to walk, how to express my thoughts clearly and literally how to manage my life again, are very, very humbling experiences. I am still challenged by issues of weight and diet. I told a friend that by the time this year is over I will have lost almost 100 pounds - the same 40-50 pounds twice in a year! But I'm still determined to do it. I'm probably about 85-90 percent better and although my lifestyle is still not perfect, I'm getting there.

I never once thought about dying. I had the support my wonderful wife, children, supportive friends and co-workers. I definitley appreciate the prayers and well wishes of friends and family from all over the country. And the one thing I can say with perfect confidence...God has been extremely good to me! Much better than I deserve.

Because May is National Stroke Month, I wanted to share a bit of this and let you know how to be aware of the signs and symptoms of strokes...

Strokes often lead to serious, life-changing complications that include
  • Paralysis or weakness on one side of the body.
  • Problems with thinking, awareness, attention, learning, judgment, and memory.
  • Problems understanding or forming speech.
  • Difficulty controlling or expressing emotions.
  • Numbness or strange sensations.
  • Pain in the hands and feet.
  • Depression.
Should you or anyone you know, experience any of the following, call 9-1-1 immediately!
  • Numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding.
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance and coordination.
  • Severe headache with no known cause.
Remember, getting immediate medical attention for stroke is crucial to preventing disability and death, so don’t delay—dial 9-1-1.
A primary focus is on the ABCS to prevent cardiovascular disease, including stroke, and contribute to overall health:
  • Know your ABCS of health:
    • Appropriate Aspirin therapy: Ask your doctor if taking aspirin is right for you.
    • Blood pressure control: Keeping your blood pressure under control reduces your risk of heart attack and stroke. More than half of the world’s stroke deaths are caused by elevated blood pressure levels.
    • Cholesterol management: Get your cholesterol checked regularly and manage it with diet and physical activity or with medication, if needed.
    • Smoking cessation: Get help at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat a healthy diet that’s low in sodium.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Prevent or control diabetes.
  • Limit your alcohol intake (fewer than two drinks per day for men, or one drink per day for women).
Let me say it again, a stroke can be a devastating experience. You don't want it to happen to you...

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