Thank you for visiting my fundraising page for the National Stroke Association.
I decided to raise money for the National Stroke Association because I was personally touched when my Mother, Molly Saeli, had an Ischemic Stroke on 12/27/2007 at age 48. We were skiing at the Canyons Resort near Park City, Utah when she had the stroke. Fortunately a ski patrolman was literally standing right behind her in the ski lodge and caught her as she fell. She was put on the toboggan and taken to the ski patrol lodge where they spent roughly an hour attempting to determine what had caused her to collapse and whether it was necessary to transport her to the larger hospital in Salt Lake City, approximately 45 minutes away from Park City. After some deliberation, which felt like days rather than an hour, she was moved to the Neurological Unit at the University of Utah Hospital, where she spent five days before the doctors said she was stable enough to fly home to Birmingham, Michigan.
In the hospital the doctors determined the cause of the stroke was a spontaneous carotid artery dissection (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carotid_artery_dissection) which essentially means the carotid artery tears, which over the course of a couple of days starves part of the brain of blood supply, resulting in an ischemic stroke. A spontaneous carotid artery dissection is unpredictable and not preventable, because the cause is unknown. We still don't know what caused it to happen. She had just had a complete physical one month before, was in great physical condition and had no risk factors.
The alternatives to fix the dissected carotid artery were to do nothing, which left the risk of another artery tear and stroke on the table, or to have a relatively rare surgery in which stents are used to repair the torn artery. Given the amount of time she spent in the Neurological Unit in the hospital in Salt Lake City and the limited treatment options with a range of outcomes, I had prepared myself for my Mom to ultimately not make it through the ordeal. She elected to have the surgery, which was performed by Dr. Elias Kassab at Oakwood Hospital in Michigan. It was his second time ever performing the surgery. Fortunately the surgery was a success!
My Mom made a full recovery within a few short months of the surgery and is back to her standard activities: waking up at 4AM to go to spinning class every day, making sure to beat me in 25 mile bike rides along the water in Northern Michigan, teaching her three and four-year-old preschool classes and skiing again.
I feel very fortunate that my Mom's treatment and care resulted in a full recovery, but it is scary to think about alternative outcomes. Clearly the hour spent deliberating at the ski patrol lodge would have been better spent en route to a more sophisticated neurological care unit in Salt Lake City. This highlights one major issue with the stroke problem: it is often difficult to recognize when one occurs or the stroke victim has none of the typical warning signs so the thought that a stroke is occurring is difficult to fathom.
I will try not to bore you with facts and figures here, but I think they help drive home the need for the work done by the National Stroke Association: each year there are roughly 133,000 deaths in the U.S. from the 795,000 strokes that occur (with ~610,000 being first time strokes) this underscores an important point: the majority of people who suffer a stroke each year survive, though unfortunately only 10% make a full recovery. Only 20-25% of patients who are admitted to the hospital with a stroke arrive in the Emergency Department within three hours of the onset of symptoms. Combine that with the fact that approximately 2 million brain cells die every minute during a stroke (of the ~100bn brain cells we have) and it becomes clear that quickly recognizing the sysmtoms is critical in seeking treatment with the hope of an eventual full recovery.
The National Stroke Association works to educate healthcare professionals on stroke symptoms and prevention in addition to helping survivors and families rehabilitate and deal with the aftermath. The experience of seeing a loved one have a stroke and temporarily not be able to form words to tell you what is happening is a very scary experience. By raising money for the National Stroke Association, I hope to reduce the likelihood of other people ever having to deal with a stroke in their family in the first place, or if it does happen, increase the likelihood of a full recovery, like my Mom and my family have enjoyed.
For additional facts and reading on strokes please visit:
Sources: support.stroke.org; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Stroke Association’s mission is to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke by developing compelling education and programs focused on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and support for all impacted by stroke. Thank you for joining us to try and stop this devastating disease.