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With Thanksgiving fast approaching and families making plans to get together, I want to bring awareness to a common health issue that spikes around the holiday season.  Stroke Awareness.

Stroke Awareness

Stroke Awareness

Did you know 1 in 6 people worldwide will have a stroke in their lifetime? One person dies every 4 minutes from a stroke, making it the 4th leading cause of death in the US.

Stroke Awareness

Because of these startling facts, Id like to share a simple graphic that illustrates the symptoms of a stroke and what actions take when one occurs. Knowing how to read and react to a stroke can determine a victim’s outcome.

Stroke Awareness

Why do I feel compelled to talk about Stroke Awareness?

In February 2010, We were packing our luggage, preparing for our early morning flight and looking forward to a dose of Florida sunshine, warmer weather, vacation and family time – each lost in our own thoughts.  Religiously, we spent every winter break in Florida visiting with my dad and step-mom.   It was our annual family tradition, it was the start of a busy travel day.  Unbeknownst to us, the significance of what lay ahead was so gargantuan that it felt surreal. Our family was about to change for ever.

The timing felt ominous. Nobody calls that early, not even my mom. It wasn’t my mother, though, it was my father. His voice was thin. “Sally’s had a stroke. She’s unconscious, I’m about to leave for the hospital in an ambulance.”  (Sally my amazing step-mom)

How was this possible? 12 hours earlier I’d been chatting to her on the phone, about flight times and where she and dad would pick us up. And now here she was in a state of suspension, half-way between life and death.

Just a brief time later, she had slipped into a second, deeper level of unconsciousness, medical terms (many lost on me) were spoken. Aneurysm, cerebral haemorrhage, hematoma – she had suffered them all. The one word I did understand, however, was “devastating”. It kept being repeated. She had a devastating bleed from a ruptured artery deep within her brain, too deep to operate. The bleed was so devastating that the likelihood of severe brain damage was high. The prognosis was bad.

Not much time passed and another phone call, I reeled as if I’d been whacked with a sledgehammer. My father sounded serious, but it couldn’t be…she was gone. My step-mother, was only 63, she was fit and healthy. My mind went blank. I could think of nothing to say.

A sudden death is hard for the relatives left behind. It’s a traumatic way to lose someone (four years on, I’m still traumatized), given no chance for proper goodbyes. What’s comforting, however, is that for my step-mother it was a relatively painless passing. No suffering from a long and protracted illness.

She was healthy until the end and pretty much went to bed one night and never quite woke up – an option we’d all take if there was a choice.

Stroke Awareness

New Years Eve, Great Memories 🙂

I just wish I’d been able to tell her how enormously I would miss her.

Stroke is preventable.  Learn to recognize stroke and take action, every second counts.  Time lost is brain lost.

So there you have it.  Be aware and act F.A.S.T. xo

***Disclaimer: Always check with your doctor first before starting new fitness routines to ensure that they’re right for you.***All opinions expressed are 100% my own.