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Franciscan Health educating public about signs of stroke

May is Stroke Awareness Month.

Posted: May 6, 2019 7:26 AM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI)- May is Stroke Awareness Month, and all month long Franciscan Health wants to educate the public on warning signs of the disease.

News 18 sat down with a registered nurse at Franciscan who spoke about the warning signs of stroke that people often ignore.

She knows all about those symptoms, because she's experienced them herself.

"I actually had worked that day. I had a normal evening with my kids and my husband," Liz Mattingly said. "I was sitting in the chair with my husband, we were looking at my phone looking at pictures, and I lost the vision in my right eye. Like somebody took a light switch and shut it off."

Liz Mattingly isn't used to being a patient.

"I was in a lot of denial I just said I was having a headache," Mattingly said. "And it actually took the third time of my husband saying 'we're either calling 911 or going to the hospital.'"

But on that night the roles were reversed.

"We're probably the last people that go to the doctor," Mattingly said.

Mattingly had a stroke. Her husband rushed her to Franciscan Health, coincidentally where she has worked as a nurse for the last 20 years.

"It could've been definitely a different outcome for me," Mattingly said. 

"The key with stroke is that it happens suddenly," Katy Young, Registered Nurse and Stroke Coordinator at Franciscan said. 

And just 12 hours later….

"I ended up stroking again," Mattingly said. 

She had to go into emergency surgery on her brain.

"I didn't ever think it would happen to me," Mattingly said. "And that's the thing at 44 [years-old] is you never expect a stroke."

Young said a common misconception is that stroke is just a disease of the elderly.

"People of any age can have a stroke. Babies can have strokes, kids can have strokes, teenagers can have strokes. People in any decade of life can have a stroke," Young said. 

Stroke is also the number one cause of disabilities in adults. Thankfully, there are ways to look out for it.

"The acronym F.A.S.T. Facial droop, arm weakness and slurred speech. And the 'T' would be time because time is of the essence when we're talking about stroke," Young said. 

So if you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms in a sudden manner…

"They need to call 911," Young said. "There are different things that we can do to treat people who are having a stroke. However, they're all time dependent."

Young said you should never underestimate your symptoms.

"It's okay to overreact to stroke," Young said. 

Mattingly is glad she did.

"I think I'm more in tune with my body now and also in taking care of patients," Mattingly said. "I mean I've been at Franciscan for 20 years and taken care of multiple stroke patients but I don't think I've ever looked at them the way I look at them now."

Sometimes the turning of the tables can give us a greater view on life.

"I don't want to say that I'm lucky I want to say more or less that I'm blessed," Mattingly said. 

Find local stroke support groups here. 

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