Recognizing a Stroke FAST

I was a latch-key kid back in the seventh and eighth grade, my parents each working long hours to support our lifestyle. I’d catch the bus after school and come home to an empty house, which I had to myself for the next two to four hours. This was before the days of the internet and even though we had cable with every channel, that got pretty old pretty quickly.

So I did what any enterprising adolescent with entirely too much time on her hands does, I started getting off at the wrong bus stop. Specifically, the stop that was four stops after my own that just so happened to be a close friend’s stop. Her mom was a stay-at-home mom that always had something delicious to share although her dad worked, he worked odd hours and always enjoyed entertaining us when he was around. And he was a riot. You never knew what might happen next. I remember mentioning that the sugar cookies were rather mundane and so he laid them out directly on the kitchen counter and covered them in chocolate syrup. It was a mess! I couldn’t believe it.

One Sunday morning as the family was getting ready for church, he wasn’t feeling well and sent them on without him. Those were the last words he ever spoke to his family. They returned from the morning services to find him collapsed in the bathroom. They called the ambulance, and I got a frantic call from my friend.

We spent hours in that hospital waiting room. Doctor after somber faced doctor passing through with updates. He’d had a stroke. A big one. And he was gone. Just like that.

I stayed with my friend. Ate the seemingly never-ending casseroles that arrived that she couldn’t work up the appetite to eat. We were in the eighth grade. No one should lose their dad in the eighth grade.

Could that story have ended differently? Maybe, maybe not. Medical technology and knowledge has come a long way since then. Early intervention makes the biggest difference in the outcome for a stroke victim. But you can’t call in the pros unless you know what to look for. That’s where FAST comes in.

Graphic Provided by the American Recall Center

Graphic Provided by the American Recall Center

F-Face Drooping
A-Arm Weakness
S-Speech Difficulty
T-Time to Call 911

The American Recall Center reached out to me* to share this information as we are getting into the holidays. Hopefully, we will all be getting together with our families and friends that we may not see the rest of the year. This can be a wonderful time, but it can also be a stressful time. Stokes spike around this time of year and knowing the signs could make all the difference.

*The American Recall Center asked. They did not compensate me for this post in any way. I agreed that the information was important.

Thoughts on 36

Thirty six. Doesn’t really seem like any sort of landmark. Just one more trip around the sun. It’s a mathematically interesting number. Second number being double the first and the whole thing is divisible by 9. At 9 years old, I was in the third grade. My little finger was already crooked due to a playground fight where it was broken. I would go on to break my arm that summer; just in time to start the fourth grade in a cast.

9 years later, the world considered me an adult. This is the year I had all 4 wisdom teeth removed and totaled my first car. In fact, I think my face may have still been swollen from the oral surgery when I went careening into the median on I-40. No, I was not on any kind of pain meds at the time.

9 years after that, I would find myself working for my current employer. First job I felt like I really got on my own. Prior ones obtained through some connection.

Today I have officially been an adult for as long as I was a child, at least in the eyes of the law. It marks the point where my adult days outnumber those of my childhood. What a thing that is? This is also the year my son will be able to get his driver’s license. I think that means I can officially shew the kids off of my lawn now.

We shall see if this is finally the year that Weird Al recognizes our shared date of birth.

Teasing Death

Met this guy the other day.

Jen1

Evyl stood his ground

Michael1

The TeenBot sized him up. Besides, there was a bear in a sombrero there for back-up.

Isaac

Me? I did the only logical thing.

Jen2Brat

What? How would you react to meeting death in a gift shop? I knew he wasn’t there for me. When death comes for me, it’ll be random, hilarious, and earn me the lifetime achievement spot on the rubber knife award.

A Study in Hats

So what happens when the EvylEmpyre goes on a field trip?

DSC_0531

Contemplation

DSC_0530

Hmm

DSC_0532

Needs a hotdog

DSC_0533

Surely the silliness couldn’t be generational

DSC_0534

My goodness!

DSC_0536

TGIF Because I Couldn’t Do This Again Tomorrow

I’m trying. Really. A friend of mine says that the world tears you down when you’ve got a blessing coming. The more tribulations, the bigger the blessing. If she’s right, something pretty good must be coming after today.

The alarm went off this morning. I was confused as to why until I realized that it is in fact Friday, not Saturday. Not that I could have stayed in bed much longer anyway because it had sprung a leak. Yes, the EvylRobot household contains a waterbed. Well, currently it’s a vinyl bag of foam in a frame, but there is generally water inside of it. So here we are at 6 in the morning attempting to start a siphon so we can throw the garden hose out the bedroom window. Yes, we’ve got a couple of those drain fill thingies and an adapter that goes from the garden hose fitting to male pipe threads to connect to bathroom sinks. Guess what our sinks have? The male end. And unfortunately, despite the end of the Defense of Marriage act, you cannot marry the male threads of the adapter to male threads in the sink. I know, the household plumbing is not very progressive.

Not to worry, the master bedroom window is just above the hose faucet in the back yard. Heh. Remember what happened last time we turned that one on? (checking archives) Oh! Maybe I didn’t tell you! Yeah, it started spraying water in the master bathroom. Good times.

So we ran a hose out the front door to the front faucet to start the siphon. But, of course, we can’t very well just leave the front door open, so we kinked the hose and I threw it out the window to drain in the back yard. And with that, I left for work.

You know how this system is supposed to do this thing? Yeah, it doesn’t. Oh and this fix that you swore to me in yesterday’s meeting that kept me at the office late. It didn’t really fix the problem and in fact broke something else. Of course I can go ahead and work a miracle on a system I don’t manage since the customer is on the phone right now.

So I got parts of that delegated out and hey! I’m only 7 minutes late to the daily mile walk. Surely I can catch my co-workers. The brisk cool air will clear my head, right? Hack. Cough. Spit. Ah well, one sub 14 minute mile for the kids.

Pour out cold coffee, pour fresh cup, and straight into a conference call. Guess whose phone decided to cut out? You’re an excellent guesser. Not to worry, the guy in the next office is on same call, I’ll just slide over and sit in with him.

Did I mention that my office is adjacent to my director’s office? He’s cool and didn’t mind at all, but then I had to rehash all the morning’s issues to him. Hopefully I didn’t smell too bad after the speed walking.

Pour out more cold coffee. Pour fresh cup.

Now to go educate another department about the broken system that they just assured me was fixed yesterday. Then assure someone else that the problem does actually exist. Then show them. Again. Then show the boss of that group an hour later.

Oh look! Instant message! ‘Hey Jennifer, I know this isn’t really your job/responsibility/skill set, but would you mind pulling this rabbit out of your hat?” Oh sure, why not. It’s not like I have any deadlines looming.

And now it’s 3:30 and I haven’t had lunch. There’s some beef jerky in my desk drawer. I suppose that will have to do. Customers are happy, so there is that.

I have not yet gone to hide in the basement, but I’m tempted. It is happy hour yet?

 

I’m the Hammer

You people think I’m sugar and spice and everything nice.

Hey, I see you snickering over there in the corner! Can it.

Conversation from the office:

Un-named coworker [3:59 PM]:

hey lady :)  i have mostly good news

Jennifer  [3:59 PM]:

^o)

<redacted boring work stuff>

Jennifer  [4:01 PM]:

Hmm. So what do we do with these?

Un-named coworker [4:02 PM]:

i bumped <redacted>, she said that <redacted> was gone for the day but to email her

i figured before i went down that path, i would let you know… basically to gauge if i should send her a nice, calm email, or if you’d prefer to send something more strongly worded yourself

<more boring work stuff>

Jennifer  [4:03 PM]:

Oh, so I’m the hammer now:P

Un-named coworker [4:03 PM]:

that’s why they pay you the big bucks :D

lol

Jennifer  [4:04 PM]:

Go ahead. If we don’t hear anything, I’ll follow up

Un-named coworker[4:04 PM]:

well, poo!  i’ll hit her up since it sticks around on our todo list until it’s done

and i’ll cc you

Jennifer  [4:04 PM]:

Thanks

And there you have it folks. A day in the life of Jennifer.

You Are Not Alone

I’m no stranger to depression, and I’m glad everyone is talking about it. As I said elsewhere

I, for one, am glad we’re talking about this. Depression lies and not even fame and fortune can drown it out. Of course, his decision wasn’t right, but he apparently felt like it is all he had. And the very fact that so many were touched by his life and feeling the loss proves that he was wrong. Proves that he did mean something to so many people. Maybe someone else that is feeling so alone can hear that message and make a better choice. Calling it selfish is cruel over-simplification. Instead, lets point out the ripples of heartache and pain. Focus on the brilliance and the gifts bestowed on all of us. The tragedy of it all is that he forgot. Depression’s lies drowned out everything else for him. 
There are many of us out there that fight with depression on a regular basis. The extroverts among us usually hide it pretty well. To see someone that seemed to be winning that battle lose it after so many years is rough. I haven’t seen anyone celebrating or glorifying his death, instead pointing out the tragedy of a life ended too soon.

The pain of depression is very, very real. The desire to end it all to make it go away is strong. Don’t. Even if you escape your demons in the end, you leave them for someone else. Someone you love will find you and they will have to deal with not only your remains but the very demons you hoped to silence. And some new ones as well.

When it feels like it is too much, get help. It probably is too heavy for you to lift alone. One man couldn’t lift a train, but it was nothing when the burden was shared. Your load is no different, and you will be amazed at how many will volunteer to lift it.

Depression lies. Depression tells you that you are alone and that you don’t matter. It tells you that no one cares. Depression kills but only if you let it. Only if you listen. Depression speaks with the devil’s tongue.

You, the real you-the one behind the mask, matter. Peek around that wall. You are not alone. Your spark is precious.

Yesterday, depression lied to 22 veterans and 1 Robin Williams. The monkey stopped dancing, and I’m not laughing. Tomorrow it will lie to more people. We need to keep talking about it. Maybe if we do, we’ll start to drown out the lies.

Jenny, the Blogess, linked a piece she wrote earlier this year that deserves re-reading. I’ll just leave you with her words.

Tell someone that you love them, or that they’re important.  And tell yourself.  Because it’s true.

Overheard in the Empyre

Me: So, there’s going to be a new Mad Max

EvylRobot: What? I thought you just said there was going to be a new Mad Max

Me: I did

ERt: Please tell me it’s not Mel Gibson

Me: It’s not

ER: Oh good.