Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke. Still, identifying a stroke as it’s happening can be difficult. The following stroke survivors have shared their stories to help raise awareness of stroke symptoms and encourage others to seek help at the sign of a stroke.
An Artist’s Brush with Stroke
In December 2016, Jim Menzel-Joseph’s wife, Norma, thought he was joking around when the stroke symptoms first appeared. “He started talking funny. At first, I told him to stop teasing. I’m just so used to him joking around with me,” she said.
Moments later, the right side of his face began to droop and he fell out of his chair, unconscious.
Because of Jim’s severe symptoms–aphasia (speech difficulty) and weakness on the right side of his body–he was taken to ProMedica Toledo Hospital, Toledo’s first Comprehensive Stroke Center and the nearest hospital trained in acute stroke care. There, the stroke-causing blood clot was removed. He was also diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (AFib), an abnormal heart rhythm condition which he never knew he had.
A Young Stroke Survivor’s Lesson on Ignoring the Signs
According to the National Stroke Association, the risk of stroke nearly doubles for every decade a person is alive after age 55. However, a stroke can strike anyone, at any age, for a multitude of reasons. Take it from Fraser Phibbs, an artistic and structural welder who experienced a stroke at just 38 years old.
One Tuesday in August 2016, Fraser came home after a long day of work with a headache. Over the next couple of days, his speech began to slur and his wife, Mere, was worried he may have heatstroke. By day three, Fraser’s speech was no longer comprehensible and Mere insisted on driving him to the emergency room.
They reached ProMedica Toledo Hospital’s emergency center where Fraser underwent a series of tests, including a CT scan. “I couldn’t even recall my own name or touch my own nose at the time,” said Fraser.
The results that came back from his CT scan were unforeseen and frightening. There was a large blood clot in an artery leading to his brain, and he had suffered an ischemic stroke. Fraser was later diagnosed with a syndrome that puts him at higher risk for blood clots.
Could you spot a stroke as it’s happening?
Learn more about stroke symptoms with this infographic.