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. Please visit the Xarelto page for information regarding some negative side effects.

6 thoughts on “Recognizing a Stroke FAST”

  1. Thank you, Jennifer.
    Learn the signs, time is brain.

    Massive stroke at 34. Didn’t call 911. Didn’t the area (heck, didn’t know the city very well). Drove (well, my brother drove) around Dallas LOOKING for a hospital. Luckily, found one. Eventually.


    Relearned how to do EVERYTHING, but left-handed this time.
    Left hospital care 6 months later with one working eye, a pronounced limp and severe right side limitations.
    If I’d known the signs……?

  2. Don’t wait for an ambulance if you live way out. Load the victim in your car, on their side so they don’t drown in their own saliva, and go to the nearest hospital with a good ER. Our closest one will let you die, so our plan involves a 30 minute drive. Someone should be with the victim to help keep the airway open, and they can call ahead to the ER while you drive (Safely!) Our stroke victim took up shooting a year later at age 89, and at 90 is now shooting a rifle. You can beat many strokes if you know what to do.

  3. Sound advice, more than just about any other type of medical emergency with a CVA it is critical to get help fast.

    Thanks for posting this.

  4. Thank you for posting this. When my Dad had his stroke about 7 or so years ago, I had just arrived for a visit. He seemed really tired. He’d played 18 holes of gold and mowed the lawn. He was 87 years old. Due to the time change, I was still up at midnight when he stumbled out of the bedroom to use the bathroom, literally bouncing off the walls as if inebriated. But he didn’t even have one beer that day. I got him bundled up to take the hospital as I recognized what was happened. My stepmom said “no he’s just really tired”, refusing to let me take him in. She’s my Stepmom but I have a foot of height on her and red hair so she quietly agreed. It WAS a stroke, but by getting him in timely he lived, and fully recovered.

  5. Best to prevent, via a high anti-oxidant diet. Eat fruit, nuts and colorfull veggies. Slip as many as possible into your, or those you love, existing diet.

    Not a vegetarian myself, but I find the argument that the problem with meat, and many fats, is that unlike veggies or fruit, these don’t come with their own anti-oxidants and thus wreak some havoc on the body.

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