Be­ing on the look­out for signs of stroke

Pawtucket Times - - HEALTH/FITNESS - By VICKY HAL­LETT Spe­cial to The Wash­ing­ton Post Vicky Hal­lett is a Mis­Fits colum­nist and the Fit ed­i­tor for Ex­press.

"At 20 Years Old, I Had a Stroke and Didn't Re­al­ize It" Good House­keep­ing mag­a­zine; Fe­bru­ary is­sue

An emer­gency-room nurse took one look at Sarah Porter – an ath­letic sopho­more at the Univer­sity of Maine – and di­ag­nosed her as fak­ing a stoke. Porter hadn't ut­tered the word “stroke,” so it was ter­ri­fy­ing when the nurse told her, “No one your age in good health has a stroke. You're just try­ing to avoid tak­ing your fi­nals.”

Porter tried to re­spond. But she couldn't: “There was a dis­con­nect be­tween what was in my head and what was com­ing out in my speech.”

That's be­cause she wasn't fak­ing. The 26-year-old may be alive to­day only be­cause other staffers in the emer­gency room took her symp­toms se­ri­ously, ac­cord­ing to a pro­file in Good the Fe­bru­ary is­sue of House­keep­ing.

“At 20 Years Old, I Had a Stroke and Didn't Re­al­ize It" by Marisa Co­hen spot­lights Porter's story to re­mind read­ers to be on the look­out for signs of stroke, no mat­ter your age.

For Porter, it all started in math class, where she briefly blacked out. A con­cerned class­mate told her he sus­pected she'd had a seizure, but she stayed in her seat. When it came time to grab her books and leave, an­other odd thing hap­pened: Her right arm felt tingly, and her right leg wouldn't work prop­erly. As Porter dragged her­self back to her dorm room, her face started spas­ming.

That's when she called home. Her mom (a physi­cian as­sis­tant) and dad (a nurse prac­ti­tioner) ar­ranged to get her to the ER.

Porter left the hospi­tal a week later, af­ter re­gain­ing the abil­ity to walk on her own. But she couldn't re­mem­ber any of her sopho­more year of col­lege, or big parts of her child­hood. And she later suf­fered a sec­ond stroke. Both, it turns out, were caused by an ab­nor­mal clus­ter of blood ves­sels, which is rare. The ma­jor­ity of strokes, the ar­ti­cle notes, are caused by blood clots "that ei­ther orig­i­nate in the brain or travel there from else­where in the body.”

Main­tain­ing a healthy diet and get­ting reg­u­lar phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity re­duces one's risk for the more com­mon kind of stroke. So Porter has found pur­pose in her re­cov­ery by rais­ing aware­ness about the is­sue. She serves as a spokes­woman for the Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion's Go Red for Women cam­paign. (Feb. 3 is its Na­tional Wear Red Day.) Maybe her story can help more peo­ple – even ER nurses – rec­og­nize a stroke when they see one.

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