Still, this one's personal. And after giving a lunchtime talk about assistive technology - AT - for folks with disabilities at our library's downtown branch today, I realized how profoundly all of this applies to me.
I touched on my stroke - somewhat strange at first given the fact that I was chatting with complete strangers - because it felt like the right thing to do, and an ideal means of springboarding the discussion. What followed was a lively, interactive hour that opened my eyes to the realities of figuring out how to live in today's world when parts of you may not necessarily be fully functional.
Last year I learned firsthand what it's like to lose critical functions - in my case, I couldn't speak, and my right side was paralyzed. I also learned how lucky I was to get it all back with little more than lingering dizziness as a reminder. I can live with a bit of wonkiness in my vestibular system, but I can't shake the realization that it could have just as easily gone the other way.
Since I began sharing my experience with a wider audience, I've heard from countless people who learned the hard way that ignoring the symptoms can lead to tragic results. From the moment a stroke occurs, you've got a four-hour - give or take - window to seek treatment. The sooner you act, the less damage is caused. But if you wave it off, you miss that window. It kills me to think of all the people I now know who chose to ignore the signs. Some died, while others were permanently disabled.
I'm sharing news of World Stroke Day because I don't want anyone to ignore the symptoms, and I don't want anyone to have to live with the consequences of not seeking immediate medical attention. It can touch us all, at any age, no matter how fit we might be. Stroke crosses all demographic lines, and is increasingly showing up in otherwise young and healthy people. Like me.
Tomorrow won't be World Stroke Day, but the need for awareness will be just as acute. Please keep it on your radar, and please talk with your close family and friends to ensure you all know what to look for, and what to do.
Only in health...