A stroke sufferer’s wife warns others not to ignore the small, lesser-known signs.
When Jodie Niven’s 41-year-old husband mentioned some symptoms he was having, she thought it was just a case of man flu.
But a niggling feeling that something was not quite right led her to keep questioning him.
It turned out to be a stroke. And her early intervention meant the father of two was one of the “lucky ones”.
Now – almost one year since the event – she wants others to benefit from her terrifying first-hand experience.
So, in a Facebook post that has been shared more than a quarter of a million times, Jodie tells her story.
“When my hard working, frequent traveling husband arrived home from work one Friday evening:
He didn’t mentioned that he was home later than expected because his pinky and ring finger on his left hand just kept hitting the wrong damn keys, and he had to keep re-typing his emails.
He didn’t mention that he’d stumbled for no apparent reason when walking to the bus stop from work.
He didn’t mention that the reason he knocked on the door at home to get in was that he had fumbled and dropped the keys a number of times while trying to open the door.
He did mention that he felt like he was getting the flu.
He did mention that he felt like he was having a hyper sensory experience when walking down the dark nature reserve pathway on his way home from the bus stop, with feelings of a heightened sense of hearing.
He didn’t have a headache.
He initially seemed, to me, to be getting the ‘man flu’, and nothing more.”
Jodie says he almost went to bed early – a decision that could have been a death sentence – but decided to write one more work email.
When he got up and stumbled slightly, alarm bells began ringing for Jodie.
“He walked normally. He looked normal. He was speaking normally.
I did get him to put both his arms straight out in front of him. He held them perfectly level, and then, ever so slightly, the left hand dropped down lower, only a few centimetres. My subconscious said ‘stroke’. My brain said ‘couldn’t be’.”
She asked him follow more directions. He struggled to do so.
“I did fight every part of my no nonsense ‘it’s nothing, just get on with life’ upbringing and attitude and I did call an ambulance. As disbelieving as I was, I realised that it might be (probably was) a stroke, and every second mattered.
By the time I had given our details to 000, and was speaking to the operator while waiting for an ambulance, my husband had gone from looking and speaking fine, to not being able to control his fine arm movements very well, or speak as clearly as he normally would. It was only as the ambulance arrived that he started to show the ‘classic’ signs of a stroke. The drooping face (but nowhere near as pronounced as the stroke awareness literature at this stage), trouble speaking, and significant loss of limb movement.”
He suffered an intracerebral haemorrhage.
But due to the early intervention and quick-thinking medical staff, Jodie says she, her husband and their family were “the lucky ones”.
“He learnt to walk again. He learnt to use his arm again. He learnt to speak clearly again. He is back at work. Many stroke patients will never live any semblance of the life they led before the stroke.
Children, teenagers, and people in their twenties and thirties can also be, and have been, changed forever by stroke.
If you notice the slightest ‘strange’ incident, or physical behaviour in yourself, or in others, including an unusual trip, or slight change in coordination of fingers, stop. Stop for a minute and ask them to smile, to poke their tongue out, to hold their arms out in front of them, and above their head. Ask them to repeat a sentence. Name five things and ask them to repeat them back to you. If everything seems ok DON’T let them go to bed, keep an eye out for small changes. If there are signs of stroke, no matter how minor, CALL AN AMBULANCE…. Be self-aware, as well as caring for others. Recognise early signs and save your life or someone else’s.
My husband has been very, very lucky. But he is still changed forever to those who know and love him.”
For more information, head to the Stroke Foundation’s website.
Mamamia reached out to Jodie for comment but did not hear back by the time of publication.
For similar health-related articles, try these: