GEORGETOWN, Texas - May is National Stroke Awareness Month, and a local nurse, who survived a stroke earlier this year, is sharing his story.
"It's like you look at it, you know it's yours, there's something like it's disconnected," explained Jimmy Taylor who lives in Georgetown. "And, that's exactly what it felt immediately like I could look at it, but I had no neurological connection to it."
In January, Taylor, a 55-year-old clinical nurse coordinator at St. David’s North Austin Children’s Hospital ER, noticed that sensation in his right arm while shopping with his wife.
"Within a few minutes, my left eye started to lose vision on the inside half of my left eye," he said.
Having worked as a flight nurse in the past, transporting stroke patients, this was a terrifying feeling.
"I know what the outcomes can be and, so immediately your mind goes to that," Taylor said.
His wife rushed him to St. David’s Round Rock where a CAT scan showed two simultaneous ischemic strokes on each side of his brain caused by blood clots. Taylor was given a clot-busting drug called TPA, which typically needs to be given within three hours of the onset of symptoms.
"Essentially after 8 a.m. this next morning, essentially 12 hours after it all started, I didn't have any more symptoms," he said.
In Taylor’s case, he said his strokes were caused by damage to his carotid arteries during radiation therapy for neck cancer 10 years ago. But, there are many causes and risk factors.
"You can cut down on the likelihood, your risk factors by trying to live a healthy lifestyle," said Dr. Will Davis, ER Medical Director at St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center. "Getting some cardio, even if it’s just a brisk walking, something to get your heart pumping a few times a week for 20 to 30 minutes a day. Don't smoke, that's a huge one, trying to make sure even if you have diabetes, keep it well-controlled."
Dr. Davis also says know the signs. The American Stroke Association recommends using the letters F.A.S.T. to spot a stroke:
- F: Face Drooping
- A: Arm Weakness
- S: Speech Difficulty
- T: TIME TO CALL 9-1-1
"But, it's really any abrupt onset of a neurological change is the main thing to look out for," said Dr. Davis.
According to the ASA, that can be numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body. Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech. Trouble seeing in one of both eyes. Trouble walking, dizziness or loss of balance and coordination. And, severe headache with no known cause. Most important, don’t hesitate to get help.
"The time to act is right then," said Taylor. "It's minutes, not hours. Minutes count minutes are brain."
Dr. Davis said about 85 percent of strokes are ischemic, which is a lack of oxygenated blood in the brain, often caused by blood clots. The other 15 percent are hemorrhagic strokes, where a blood vessel bursts in the brain, often linked to high blood pressure.
He said while stroke is more common in the elderly population, about 10 to 15 percent of patients are younger adults ages 18 to 50.
To learn more about stroke prevention and symptoms, visit the American Stroke Association website.