Let's Talk Stroke!

Henry Clark Stroke Foundation

A Stroke Survivor Story


On April 13, 2000, I went to work as usual and began preparing service reports on repair outages at the phone company. I had planned for a very busy day, because there were many charts and graphs to manage--what I experienced that day was not in my plans. I had postponed going to lunch earlier. However, about 1:00 PM Anita, my co-worker and I decided to go to a nearby restaurant.

We were seated in the lobby of the restaurant, when I began to feel exhausted and hungry. I had eaten a light breakfast or did I? The hostess shortly escorted us to our table. And, I began immediately drinking a glass of water. I remember thinking if I could get something to eat I would feel better. When the waitress came with our order, I said my grace and began eating my salad. Anita and I had been talking during this time and everything seemed fine; besides, I had a physical checkup with my doctor that week.

As I listened to Anita while eating my salad, I began to experience a sensation in my right arm or a kind of numbness. This feeling made it difficult to eat so I transferred my fork to my left hand. I didn’t think anything other than I wanted to finish my salad. I may have mentioned it to Anita. But I can’t recall. As I was listening to Anita, I felt the right side of my face lost its muscle tone--it felt like it was sagging. At that time, Anita was eating and hadn’t noticed. I was saying to myself you’re having a stroke! I knew God was using this opportunity to speak to me; so I wouldn’t be afraid. I was calm and confident. He would take care of me and everything would be okay. When Anita looked up she said, “Nonearl, I think you’re having a stroke.” Anita's father had suffered a stroke; so, she recognized what I was experiencing. I tried to speak to her. But, my speech was slurred. Anita wanted Robert, my husband work number. I retrieved my address book with my left hand because my right was numb and gave her his pager number. She notified the restaurant manager to call 911. The restaurant notified mall security first and they administered oxygen. The ambulance arrived after the oxygen had been given.

I could imagine the restaurant’s patrons wondering what was going on. It was certainly not the place I would have chosen to take ill. I was placed on a stretcher and the attendants asked questions. They were hesitant to take me at first because there weren’t any visual signs. Anita explained the signs: slurred speech, numbness in the right arm and weakness in right side of face. She was aware that what had happened could occur again. The attendants told Anita that they would take me to the hospital. Once the attendants had me in the ambulance, they continued to watch and question me. Anita drove my van to the hospital and met Robert and the ambulance there.

Once at the hospital, I began thinking about a friend who had taken ill. I became upset and my pressure began to rise. While in the hospital the next episode occurred. My speech became slurred again and I had no control of my right side. That’s when the hospital staff began working to stabilize me and run test. I spent a week in the hospital before being transferred to another hospital’s rehabilitation ward. I spent two weeks in therapy (that was hard work) and receiving medications. Then I was release to go home and to continue my therapy as an outpatient. Five months later, I re-learned how to think, process information, perform math, gain physical use of my right side, to write and walk. I gained the ability to drive much later.

The Lord blessed me with Anita, my guardian angel. And, He has taken care of me just as He said He would. I’ve listened to the Lord, as He directed me each step of the way.

I was 48 years old when I had my stroke. But it could have happened at any age. My father had his first stroke at age 49 and others followed over the years. Strokes run on both sides of my family. They are hereditary. I knew that something was wrong earlier that week and I sought medical attention. But, I did not suspect a stroke was coming. It is important to know the warning signs. Learn your body. People may have different warning signs. It is important to act in time and get to the hospital right away. I recall experiencing the numbness in my right arm, slurred speech, then an overall weakness of my right side. Later, I learned there was also a change in my vision as well. Initially, when my Dad experienced these warnings, he immediately went to the hospital too. But there were other strokes and illnesses. Dad’s gone now, but that day and others are still fresh with me.

I’ve retired from my job while recovering from my stroke. And, I have made an excellent recovery with so much to be thankful for. I found a new career educating others about strokes. I have joined a group of stroke survivors, The Spice of Life Stroke Club. I’m enjoying my renewed life. But that’s not all, while attending a stroke club meeting, I met Barbara Lewis-Clark of the Henry Clark Stroke Foundation and she added other opportunities for me to speak to others and share my testimony.