BENEFITING: National Stroke Assn.
ORGANIZER: National Stroke Assn.
EVENT DATE: Nov 01, 2015
Thank you for visiting my fundraising page for the National Stroke Association!!
I decided to challenge myself and run a marathon in support of this charity in particular because it is very dear to my heart. Seven years ago, on 12/27/2007, my mom suffered an Ischemic Stroke at the age of 48 while we were on a family ski trip at the Canyons Resort near Park City, Utah. Luckily, she was caught by a ski patrolman as she fell and taken by a toboggan to the ski patrol lodge where they tried to determine what happened. After about an hour of deliberation, she was transported to the Neurological Unit at the University of Utah Hospital, where she stayed for five days until she was stable enough to fly home.
The hospital determined that 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.
My Mom is one of the toughest, most active women I know and to see the effects that the stroke had on her was the hardest thing I have experienced in my life. She was unable to recall very simple nouns, was very confused, and just wasn't her usual energetic self. 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, we were not sure if we would have our mom back to her normal self.. 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!
Within a few short months, my mom made a full recovery and is back to being the most active, energetic person I know. She taught preschool for many years after her stroke and still wakes up at 4 AM to go to spinning class every day. Even though I'm 25 years old, I can barely keep up with her!. My mom is one of the most selfless people that I know, and after she has done so much for me, I am so excited to run in my mom's honor at the NYC marathon this November.
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 symptoms 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:
Thank you for your support!