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Act FAST when experiencing a stroke

Act FAST when experiencing a stroke

By Elby Bruce on May 20, 2016

It was a normal day off for Lori Garrett. She was lying on the couch playing with her dogs, but when she got up, her leg fell out from under her.

“I thought my foot was asleep,” she said.

But when Lori tried to pick herself up, her arm was lifeless beside her, and when she looked in the mirror, her smile looked funny. She grabbed a pen to see if she was able to write, but she couldn't grab the pen.

At 37 years old, Lori was having a stroke.

“I never stop being a nurse,” said Lori, who is an Emergency Room nurse at Pelham Medical Center. “After I realized my symptoms, I went to the Emergency Room.”

Even as a nurse of six years, Lori at first doubted that anything was wrong with her. But she recognized the symptoms of stroke and headed to the hospital immediately.

However, many people ignore stroke signs, thinking they will go away or not wanting to worry anyone.

“We hear it all the time. Someone's left side went weak, but they didn't want to worry anyone or bother the busy EMS workers,” said John Pilch, MD, Medical Group of the Carolinas—Neurology—Pelham. “If you are experiencing any stroke symptoms, that is an emergency and you need to go to the hospital.”

Stroke is an emergency. Act FAST. Facial droop or uneven smile. Arm numbness or weakness. Slurred speech, difficulty speaking or understanding. Time! Call 9-1-1 and get to the hospital immediately. Pelham Medical Center: 864-530-6000

Lori was taken to the ICU and went through occupational therapy. However, because she acted F.A.S.T., Lori was able to return to work after three weeks.

“Life after stroke is about your drive. You have to reclaim your life,” Lori said. “It's all about your drive.”

Since she had a stroke, Lori is able to identify with her patients in a new way.

“It's one of the scariest times of your life,” she said. “You don't know what's happening.”

If you experience any of these signs or symptoms, call 9-1-1 or get to the hospital immediately:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the leg, arm or face
  • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes 
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause