Thursday, November 4, 2010


“I thought so hard I got a headache.” - J.D. Cobb
Some serious illnesses can be difficult to detect. Appendicitis is often confused with stomach pain. Since the heart has no pain nerves a Heart Attack makes itself felt as left arm pain or nausea. Likewise with stroke, would you recognize the precursor symptoms of a stroke?

At patient hcwriter describes the symptoms she experienced before her stroke.

The First Precursor: The Pain in My Legs
“I can't really say exactly what happened when I had my hemorrhagic stroke on April 8, 2009, because I was unconscious for the first eight days. I can tell you about some events before…
It was Thursday, March 26, when ... I had an awful pain in my feet and ankles … I realized if the pain continued until the next day, I couldn't go to work.
I woke Friday morning and the pain was worse. I called my ENT doctor and he put me a round of antibiotics since I had ear surgery two weeks before. Maybe I was getting an ear infection. The doctor didn't know.
[On Saturday] I called a friend of ours, an Orthopedic Surgeon, and these were his words to me: "If a warm bath doesn't help and if the pain increases and moves up your leg on Sunday, go to the Emergency Room."
[On Sunday] All of the above happened and I was scared. I drove myself to the ER on Sunday. I was tested using an Ultrasound and the doctor saw blood clots in both legs. My platelets … had also dropped dangerously low.… I was admitted.
The Second Precursor: My Experience with a Blood Thinner
During the next two days, I was given tests and my blood clots in both legs were reconfirmed. … A hematologist … put me on Lovenox, an injectable blood thinner, … to break up the clots.
On April 1, the hospital finally released me and I drove myself home. … The pain in my legs was still there and it was constant. Over the next two days, I saw an improvement in the pain level. … I thought, I had narrowly escaped something that would throw my life is disarray. Besides, this wasn't a good time to miss work, with events coming up, one after the other. It's never a good time to miss work.
The Third Precursor: A Cosmic Headache
Tuesday evening [April 7] I had the beginnings of a headache. I could count on one hand how many times I've had headaches in the past twenty-five years. [She stayed the night at a friend’s house and the pain increased. After 9pm she took some Tylenol.] Somehow, after a while, I fell asleep. And that was all I knew.
I went into convulsions about 4:30 am. I missed the paramedics who came to my friend's house, [I missed] the hospital … where I spent fifteen hours under observation, and [I missed] the flight to Capital Health in Trenton, known for treating severe neurological problems.
Eight days later, I am told, I woke up. And that's what I heard first upon awakening: You've had a stroke. I was stunned to hear that news, but when I wanted to speak, to ask questions about why the stroke happened, no words were coming out. I …was without speech.
There are two types of strokes. 80% are ischemic stroke when a brain artery has been blocked by a blood clot. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when an artery ruptures or leaks. If an artery is unable to supply a portion of the brain with oxygen-rich blood, that portion of the brain can become permanently injured within minutes. Stroke often results in permanent serious complications and disability. It is the second leading cause of death worldwide and the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

Bottom Line
“A stroke was the furthest thing from my mind. It was something that happened to other people, which leads me to believe, if I could have a stroke, anybody could have a stroke.”
Many strokes are sudden with no warning. If you experience one of the following “mini-stroke” symptoms, get emergency treatment immediately before the brain is permanently damaged:
  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion or problems understanding
  • Sudden difficulty speaking
  • Sudden vision difficulty in one or both eyes
  • Sudden dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, or difficulty walking
  • Sudden, severe headache with no apparent cause

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