This post was written by Kristin Davies, a registered nurse at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus.
As a nurse who works with stroke patients and their families at Mayo Clinic's campus in Florida, I am amazed by the control we can have over our bodies, despite their complexity. A stroke, in any form, can be a scary, debilitating prospect. However, basic awareness can offer a layer of protection that that many people are not aware of. While not all strokes can be prevented, maintaining a healthy diet, exercising, limiting alcohol use, smoking cessation, and managing your stress level are all self-directed ways of protecting yourself from a stroke. Also, being aware of how your body feels and acts lets you know when something is not normal.
Whenever I have a patient who says they called 911 as soon as they realized something wasn’t right with their body, I just want to give that patient a prize - and a hug! Even if the patient didn’t know he/she was having a stroke, having the instinct to call 911 instead of saying “It will pass,” probably made the difference between a full recovery and a life-long debilitating condition.
I always tell my patients that they are the front line to their own medical care; if they aren’t aware of their body, then even the best doctor in the world can’t help fix their health problems.