“A Threatening Run” by Dennis B.

What is this a picture of? Those of us that run with smart watches such as an Apple iWatch will recognize it as the map of a running route recorded in the “Activity” App. 

A picture containing text, tree, sign, way

Description automatically generatedRecently, I was out for my typical early morning six-mile run. Two miles in, I suddenly started seeing double, the world was tilting, and I couldn’t continue. At some point I laid down and a passing stranger stopped to check on me. I remember  trying to wave him on, saying I was ok, but he insisted I was not. I then called my wife via my smart watch to get a ride home. She recognized something was seriously wrong with me and took me to the local hospital emergency room, even as I continued to insist that I was just fine and didn’t want to go. Security personnel had to help her get me into the ER, at which point I was quickly diagnosed as having suffered a stroke. 

So, this picture shows me running along a sidewalk in a wooded/marsh area. At some point a blood clot in my thalamus kept my brain from sending directions to the right side of my body, spinning me in never-ending circles.  I have no recollection of any of this.

I am telling this story for two reasons: 

First, getting treatment early, at the onset of stroke symptoms is critical. There is a “clotbuster” drug called TPA (tissue plasminogen activator) that may be administered after appropriate scans. I personally equate it to “Narcan” for stroke victims—my symptoms, including paralysis, slurred speech, drooping face, and double vision all began dissipating and mostly disappeared over the next few hours.  

Second, know the warning signs of strokes: (Of course there is an acronym) Hey BE FAST!

H Headache

B Balance problems

E Eyesight changes

F Facial droop

A Arm Weakness

S Speech Difficulties

T Time to call 911

Strokes can happen to anyone and for a variety of reasons. I am 65, have been an avid runner for decades and considered to be in very good health. This really hit me out of nowhere. I strongly suggest that anyone that exercises alone wear a Smart Watch (a watch with cellular capability that will both allow someone to see where you are and allow you to make phone calls from your wrist if you need help.) We all should have one person in this world who knows where we are at any given time!