On February 13, 2013 my wife and I were given the scare of our lives. We were sitting across from each other at our kitchen table. My spouse was addressing Valentine Day cards to our grandchildren. Cath seemed confused. She kept saying that she only had three envelopes and needed four. She finally got that sorted out (she always had four) when she asked me how to spell one of our grandkids’ names. My antennae went up. I told her and then watched as she tried to write the name. It was a mess!
She put down her pen, looked at me and slurred, “I can’t do this”. Eight minutes passed from the time she was shuffling envelopes. I got up and said we’re going to the hospital to which my wife said, “I need my socks”. (Only a woman would say that!) I thought about it and said, “no, I’m going to call 911. Sit down and do not move.” The ambulance arrived seven minutes later. I knew what the problem was but the EMT confirmed it-my wife was having a stroke. She is 67 years old.
The first thing I thought of was that 67-year-old people do not have strokes. If my wife was thinking clearly I’m pretty sure she would have thought the same thing. The ambulance arrived at the ER within 30 minutes of when the first symptoms appeared. At 50 minutes the neuro physician asked my wife and I if we were familiar with tPA-Tissue Plasminogen Activator. I was because of my years in the medical sales world. Bottom line is that the drug (tPA) was in my wife’s blood stream within 60 minutes of her first symptoms. In order for the drug to work effectively it has to be in the stoke victim’s bloodstream with three plus hours. Basically the sooner the better.
I won’t bore you with the details of the next 4 days. The good news was that my wife walked out of the hospital on February 17th, 2013 with hardly any sign that she had a stroke. No slurred speech, droopy mouth, limp, weakness. Other than large amounts of fatigue and a slower pace to her activity Cath resumed life. The best quote of the week came from her neuro doc who said, “You are a poster child for tPA”. He also said in a less friendly manner, “you’ll be signing your death certificate if you ever look at another cigarette”!
My wife and I figure that God gave her a death-defying wake up call. He gave her a second chance to spend more time with her family and friends, among several thousand other life events. The message, for sure, was clear-lose the habits that brought you to the brink of the RIP sign. Stop smoking and exercise. Thanks Big Guy, I owe You one.