"The Ronan Report" provides insight about the activities at the Western Maryland Health System in Cumberland, Maryland, and about the changes taking place in healthcare today from a CEO's perspective.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Stroke Awareness

May is Stroke Awareness Month and since it's still May, allows me to comment.  The word “stroke” now has new meaning since my mother suffered a stroke in January of this year.  It's a little tough to do anything about it when you are over a thousand miles away.  Thank God for family, in this case, my sister.  Something told her to stop by my mother's home on her way to run errands.  She found my mother somewhat disoriented and having trouble walking.  My sister called me and I asked about any numbness or weakness? Yes, on her left side.  Any confusion? Yes.  Any trouble seeing out of one or both eyes? Yes, the left eye. Any dizziness?  Yes.  I confirmed what my sister thought.  She needs to get to the hospital ASAP.

Then the fun started.  Getting my mother to the hospital was quite the undertaking. It took my sister with me on the phone and then a call from my wife to get her to realize the seriousness of the situation. The dreaded call from daughter-in-law, who is, worse yet, a nurse, did the trick. Wife: "Doris, you are having a stroke; you need to go to the hospital now." Mother: "I'm fine."  Neither will admit to what was then said, but I think it went something like this.   Wife: "OK, if you would like to deteriorate into a vegetative state until you die that is certainly your choice but why put that burden on the rest of the family.”  Off they went to the hospital and a week later she was back at home doing very well aside from the loss of her peripheral vision in her left eye and some short-term memory loss that has since improved. My mother and my wife are fine; she still loves her like her own.

The point to all this is that time is of the essence when stroke symptoms are presented.  Receiving treatment within 4.5 hours can greatly reduce the risk of permanent damage.  So, know the signs: numbness, weakness, confusion, trouble speaking, trouble seeing, can't walk, dizzy, loss of balance or severe headache.  Call 911 for any of the above symptoms.

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