May is Stroke Awareness Month, and healthcare providers want to stress the importance of catching the signs and symptoms as early as possible.
Catching the early signs of his stroke helped Buthler Julien, thanks to his quick thinking fiancé.
Julien, step-by-step, is making strides after his stroke. He is learning to walk and talk all over again at Broward Health North.
"It was hard. Can't move. I was blind. It was rough," Julien explained. "It's hard, getting back to normal again."
Last September, Julien was a healthy and very active 39-year-old who loved playing basketball but one morning, he fell while trying to get out of bed.
"We were just getting up to start the day. He got up before me. Normal day, laughing, on our phone, and he just collapsed. Which was unlike him," recalled Evelyn Galarza.
Galarza, Julien's girlfriend, was in nursing school at the time and an employee with Broward Health System.
Her training kicked in right away. She immediately asked him to do one simple thing.
"Smile for me," Julien said. "I smiled, only the right side of my face was working."
"It was the lack of his muscles being able to move to one side, squeezing the hand, one stronger than other, worst headache of lives, slurred speech," said Galarza.
Julien was rushed to the hospital, where his doctor says spotting the signs early and the subsequent swift response was crucial.
Dr. Celso Agner says stroke is the leading cause of death in the world and people of all ages can be affected.
"Don't wait until symptoms get bad. The earlier you get to the emergency department, the better," said Dr. Agner.
Julien added, "Call 9-1-1. You never know."
Julien has been focused on physical, occupational and speech therapy with Galarza by his side and he's decided he wants her there forever.
The pair was engaged in February 5 months after Galarza's quick thinking saved her soon-to-be-husband's life.
"I owe my life to her. I can't say enough. I can't say enough," said Julien.
Julien's stroke was caused by a blood clot. He works in sales and says he loves his job and can't wait to be well enough to return and he's also looking forward to playing basketball again.