Having a Stroke: An Eyewitness Account
The day my husband, Steve, had a massive stroke is forever etched in my memory. Could I have done something differently?
Some of his early symptoms were so common that we overlooked them, but if we hadn't, things could have been different. Hopefully, you can learn from our experience.
That fateful day went like this...
"What are you doing?" I asked my husband who was displaying some odd behavior while sitting on the couch. He was holding a tissue by its corner and repeatedly lifted it up and down in front of him.
A few minutes before, he had awakened from a two hour nap and asked me to change the TV channel to the 10:00 news. He got up to go to the bathroom, but he didn't look right. His face was a little droopy, and he had been making strange breathing noises in his sleep.
"Are you alright?"
"I'm thirsty and have a really bad headache."
Another headache?! For the last three days in a row he'd had them. I went to get him a glass of water and some Tylenol. He hobbled back to the family room on crutches trying not to put weight on the left ankle he had broken three weeks prior. I went back to sit down while he took the Tylenol. Two or three minutes later I noticed his unusual tissue-lifting antic.
"What are you doing?"
His response was slurred and unintelligible. I ran over to him and knelt down by his feet.
"STEVE! LOOK AT ME! WHAT'S MY NAME? SAY MY NAME!"
He looked dazed and he couldn't say my name. Immediately I called 911 and told the operator that my 59 year-old husband was having a stroke.
Steve objected and garbled out, "Der nawddin ron wid nee."
He was oblivious to his dire condition, because there certainly was something wrong with him. As I gave information and answered questions, I watched him take a drink of water. It poured out of the left side of his mouth and ran down his shirt. He couldn't even feel the icy cold water soaking through to his skin.
I stayed on the line with the 911 operator for about 10-12 minutes until the first responder arrived. Within a few more minutes, three more paramedics came hauling in a stretcher with them, tracking snow down the hall into the family room. They struggled to get Steve's 255 pound, limp body onto the stretcher. His whole left side was paralyzed, and he was confused and disoriented.
Urgency was imperative because a new clot-busting drug (tPA) could reverse the effects of stroke if administered within three hours of the first symptoms. Little did I know that it was already too late.Continued on the next page