Every time I teach a First Aid course, I use the story about an old workmate who had a stroke.
I use it because it’s effective in painting the picture of how a person presents when this happens.
It was around 1am Monday morning, when I realized there was an issue.
That night, something seemed different but nobody else really noticed. Standing with his arms crossed almost supporting one arm with the other, our conversation seemed confused as he constantly gazed at the floor.
As we walked to the First Aid shack for a coffee, I asked how he was feeling:
How was the weekend?
“I don’t remember, apparently I didn’t show up to work on Friday”
Did you leave the house to go to work that day?
“I remember dropping the kids off at school Friday morning, but that’s really the last thing I remember”
As we kept talking, his slurred speech became more noticeable. When he relaxed, those crossed arms became one crossed arm and one seemingly limp arm. Looking into the eyes and face of this normally strong, athletic man there was something missing. His left side was almost motionless, wilted.
Can you lift your arms above your head for me?
The right arm went up, left one didn’t move.
Can you kick your legs out for me?
The right one kicked out, left one stayed put.
We need to get you to the hospital.
Tips For Recognizing Someone Has Had A Stroke
How To Help A Patient With A Stroke
One of the reasons this is so important for us as healthcare professionals is because we see our patients so regularly. In my friends case in the story, he went the entire weekend and not one friend or family member picked up that anything was wrong. I saw him about five years later and he was a shell of the man he once was. If only someone would have recognized his situation sooner, the damage from the stroke could have been significantly less than what he went on to live with. Later that morning I went to the hospital to check on him. As I walked in the room he looked at me and shouted to the nurse:
“Hey nurse there’s the little jerk that sent me in here” (they had him on some pretty good stuff)
“You should thank that little jerk, he saved your life”