Tuesday, October 28, 2014

World Stroke Day 2014

World Stroke Day 2014 is tomorrow October 29.  According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is a disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. It is the No. 4 cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts (or ruptures). When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so it and brain cells die.
About 795,000 Americans each year suffer a new or recurrent stroke. That means, on average, a stroke occurs every 40 seconds. Stroke kills more than 137,000 people a year. That's about 1 of every 18 deaths.On average, every 4 minutes someone dies of stroke. About 40 percent of stroke deaths occur in males, and 60 percent in females. The 2006 stroke death rates per 100,000 population for specific groups were 41.7 for white males, 41.1 for white females, 67.7 for black males and 57.0 for black females. Americans paid about $73.7 billion in 2010 for stroke-related medical costs and disability.  The American Stroke Association offers Stroke Fact Sheets and when you check out the American Stroke Association, take the Pledge to End Stroke.

 You can also learn how to spot a stroke FAST:

Through my volunteer work for the American Heart Association in Kansas City, I have had the great pleasure of getting to know Teri Ackerson.  I profiled her story here last February.  Teri was the primary stroke coordinator at a local hospital and an RN when a twist of fate found her having her own stroke Memorial Day of 2013.  Only because her son knew the signs of a stroke was she able to get the quick treatment that she needed.  Read the original post of Teri's story in her own words here. 

Through Teri, I have started following a group called National Orange Popsicle Week. According to their website, their mission is to build and support the community of young stroke survivors, and their loved ones, by raising awareness and funds, while contributing to ongoing research of stroke in young people.  Their vision is to reverse the assumption that stroke only affects the elderly and to build flourishing community support groups of young stroke survivors. They consider young stroke survivors to be 45 and under.  Please take a minute to learn how to take action for young stroke survivors here.  Raising awareness is half the battle!

In the Twitter world, I became connected with Ryley (@ryley_strong).  He is a 16 year old young man from Arkansas who suffered massive stroke.  He shares his story on his community Facebook page Strength for Ryley Williams.  His community Facebook page shares:  Monday, July 8, 2013 Ryley had just begun warm up exercises for off season BHS sophomore football practice when he collapsed. He was rushed by ambulance to the local ER. Preliminary tests did not show a cause for the paralysis and intermittent loss of consciousness. It was quickly recognized that he would need more specialized care, and was taken to Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock, AR by helicopter. Upon arrival he was quickly taken in for an MRI that revealed massive strokes that effected a large part of the left side of his brain, and causing the paralysis of the right side of his body. The challenge was then to find the source of the blood clots that caused the strokes. Our answer came within 48 hours of arrival at ACH, when Ryley was rushed into emergency surgery to remove a portion of his skull to relieve the pressure from the swelling caused by the strokes. Immediately following that surgery, a transesophageal echocardiogram was performed, and that revealed endocarditis. A bacterial infection in his blood stream (to this day we still have NO idea how he got this infection) caused hair like strands to build up on several of his heart valves. Essentially the strands broke loose and threw embolisms into his blood stream straight up to his brain. We are now 7 months post stroke and still trying recapture his motor and language skills. Ryley has quickly become somewhat of a medical miracle with his determination, tenacity, and physical health to push through adversity and expectations. As a family we strongly feel that it was a miracle of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It has been with his many blessings and constant presence that we have be able to stand by Ryley and continue to encourage him. This page was created to show support to Ryley, and update our friends, family and community.

The thought that stroke is only something that affects the elderly is such a misconception for masses of people.  Just as with heart disease, it is such a battle to fight this misconception.  I hope you will take time on October 29, World Stroke Day to make yourself familiar with the signs of stroke and remember that it is the No. 4 cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Happy Heart Anniversary!

Today is the day--my heart anniversary.  Three years ago tonight I was in complete shock as a doctor I had never met was looking at me telling me I was in the midst of a STEMI.  I really just wanted to tell him he was full of shit except the blood pressure reading I was looking at on the machine I was hooked up to read 200/120 so I figured he really was telling me the truth.

I started my day at 4 am so I could get a jump start before anyone else got to work today.  I was pondering what to post about this day and so many things came to mind.  I chose just to keep it simple and I posted this on Facebook this morning:

  In response, my friend Jamie posted this back:

This is it.  What he wrote makes what happened to me at 42 and the role I have settled into all worth it.  I put it out there just for this reason.  If one person makes a change then this is the reason. I never knew something like this would suit me.  It turns out it does!  God chose this role of survivor and educator because he knew it would suit me.   Before this, I never really volunteered. The volunteer work with the American Heart Association suits me as well. I would have never realized this if not for the heart attack. How amazing it feels to take such a monumental negative and turn it into a monumental positive.

A huge thank you to all of you that have hung in with me.  Thank you to all of you that put on red for National Wear Red for Women day and text, email or post pictures to me on Facebook.  You have no idea how much that means to me.  Thank you to those of you that read my posts and literally take it to heart and go visit your doctors.  Thank you to the American Heart Association Kansas City for all of the opportunity you provide me to go out into our community and educate about heart disease.  Thank you also for the opportunity to meet and forge such fabulous friendships with the amazing, amazing other survivors and advocates that I so cherish.

So, to help me celebrate my third heart anniversary, go visit your doctor and get your heart checked out!

One more thing you can do, help us root on our Royals!  It is a feel good, good for your heart magical baseball season in our town!  Go Royals!  #TaketheCrown #BeRoyalKC