I could go into a long post about heart health, throw out stats and urge you to know the warning signs of stroke or heart attack but I will let some amazing ladies I met a few weeks ago at an event for “GO RED RVA” do that for me!
After enjoying a day with family celebrating her grandmother’s 70th birthday party, Kaitlin was about to take her dog for a walk when she found herself unable to even open the door. She dropped the leash and when trying to speak, was not making any sense and started to present classic signs of a stroke; drooping face, lack of arm mobility and slurred speech. Her mother being a nurse knew instantly something was wrong but never guessed it would be a stroke but who would have; she was a recent college grad, ate healthy, was a avid runner and did I mention she was 23?! After being rushed to the hospital and given a number of tests by doctors, there was nothing they could find to explain her sudden stoke. She says there is not family history of stokes and had no signs beforehand, it just happened. It took her a month to recover physically, but months to cope mentally with understanding that her body was not going to do what she wanted it to do at times and coming to terms with a stroke not just an “old” person’s problem. Her advice to others is “Know your personal risk factors and cut through the noise you are bombarded with on how to be healthly and find what works for you. Get familiar with the signs and symptoms of a heart attack or stroke so you can act fast if it happens to you or a loved one. And be aware that anything can happen, whether or not you can see it.”
After doing some last minute NYE shopping and driving home to ring in the New Year with family and friends, Renee says she was hit with a pain in her head she never felt before. She described it as being hit in the head with a baseball bat by a pro baseball player that in an instant rendered her sightless and extremely dizzy. Renee was rushed to the hospital and in the 21 days she spent there, doctors were only able to find one thing; she had bleeding at the base of her brain but the cause was unknown. It was after her mother changed her doctors did they find she suffered a Cerebral Cerebellum Stroke with Extreme Vertigo that was most likely brought on by stress. Renee ran three businesses and was the type of person who if the job was not done right, she would step in to fix it. A lover of life she was always on the go and taking little time to rest. Her team of doctors work with her endlessly to get her the right treatment and set her on a path to recovery. She says that her turning point was at a physical therapy session when Bruno Mars “Uptown Funk” blared through the speakers. Dropping down her cane, she danced through the entire song and at a checkup not too long after, her doctors found her brain was healing at an amazing pace. She credits her faith and dancing to helping her heal. Her advice to others is “Don’t stress life and hold strong to your faith.”
In 2003 while at work, Connie started to have some issues typing. When she looked at her screen it was a if she smashed her hands on the keyboard and when she went to speak, she was unable to communicate what she was thinking. She was rushed to the hospital and after some test it was found she suffered a Trans Ischemic Attack also known as a Mini Stroke. The cause was due to a blood clotting disorder that affects her jugular and brachial artery; a piece broke off and went to her brain. Besides the blood clots, Connie said she had not other symptoms that could have warned her ahead of time; she was healthy and active and lived life to fullest! Though there is a history of heart desice in her family, nothing like this had never happened. It took her a month of speech therapy to recover but says she still has problems speaking at times. Her advice “Pay attention to your body! If your body is not doing something that you know it normally does, don’t take that lightly, you need to go seek help.”
If these ladies stories don’t give you the motivation to take heart health seriously, I’m not sure what will. I thank them and all the other ladies for sharing their stories and being the voice that we all need to fight heart disease!
Visit the Greater Richmond American Heart Association for more information on how to stay heart healthy!