"Fred! Can you get here right away?"
"What's the trouble?" I asked.
"something's wrong with Alice and I don't know what to do. I think she might have had a stroke. Do you think I should call a doctor?" Virginia, a bright well educated woman in her late 50's is usually decisive and assertive, but now sounded befuddled as she attempted to make sense of Alice's bizarre behavior. Alice is an alert, vivacious 83 years old woman with a history of minor pre-stroke (TIA's) incidents.
Alice and Virginia had been enjoying a vacation break in a remote desert cabin quite some distance from my present location. "I'll be there as quick as I can... probably in about 20 minutes." Then I remembered the email message sent by a good friend in Santa Barbara only two days earlier... talk about serendipity! In the background I could hear Alice talking, forming understandable answers to unasked questions, babbling. "Ask her to smile," I ordered.
Shortly Virginia replied, "She can't..."
"Ask her to raise her hands over her head."
In the receiver I heard the question asked. "She can't..."
Finally I asked her to see if Alice could repeat a simple sentence like "I don't feel so good." The negative reply came back in a flash.
"Call 911 immediately." I commanded, something Virginia had been contemplating since Alice first began acting so strangely. Fifteen minutes later I arrived to find two fire engines and an ambulance blocking the road. Paramedics were administering oxygen and attempting to talk to Alice.
"Squeeze my fingers." they ordered with no response. Then, "Give me a big smile... like you did for the ice cream man." Still no response. In came the gurney and soon the ambulance sped away to the emergency room at a distant hospital... Virginia and I following in our car.
At the hospital doctors confirmed Alice had indeed had a massive stroke and that our early intervention had no doubt reduced the severity of results. It is now three weeks later and Alice is back to her old mischievous silly self, thanks in part to that simple three question test.  (All names changed to protect privacy)



* Following is the actual e-mail message I received from my friend in Santa Barbara, not two days earlier.


Susie is recouping at an incredible pace for someone with a massive stroke all because Sherry saw Susie stumble - -that is the key that isn't mentioned below - and then she asked Susie the 3 questions. So simple - - this literally saved Susie's life - - Some angel sent it to Suzie's friend and they did just what it said to do. Suzie failed all three so 911 was called. Even though she had normal blood pressure readings and did not appear to be a stroke as she could converse to some extent with the Paramedics they took her to the hospital right away. Thank God for the sense to remember the 3 steps!

Read and Learn!

Sometimes symptoms of ! a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke. Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions:

*Ask the individual to SMILE.

*Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.

*Ask the person to SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE.

If he or she has trouble with any of these tasks, call 9-1-1
immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

After discovering that a group of non-medical volunteers could identify
facial weakness, arm weakness and speech problems, researchers urged
the general public to learn the three questions. They presented their
conclusions at the American Stroke Association's annual meeting last
February. Widespread use of this test could result in prompt diagnosis and
treatment of the stroke and prevent brain damage.

A cardiologist says if everyone who gets this e-mail sends it to 10 people, you can bet that at least one life will be saved.


My reply to my Santa Barbara friend's email... That is so neat! I always check out things like this because many don't pass the fact or fiction test. This one does. Google returns over 150,000 hits on a "Smile-Arms-Sentence-Stroke" search. . Thanks.  
Reference photo: author
 August 2002

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