Overcoming obstacles with Optimism

Today is World Stroke Day. On this day, we hope the voice of stroke education will grow even louder. Strokes can attack any person without notice. Everyone needs to be aware of the statistics of a stroke and how to respond if we suspect someone is having one. Here are some facts from The Internet Stroke Center which offers a wealth of information:


U.S. Statistics

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States. More than 140,000 people die each year from stroke in the United States.
Stroke is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States.
Each year, approximately 795,000 people suffer a stroke. About 600,000 of these are first attacks, and 185,000 are recurrent attacks.
Nearly three-quarters of all strokes occur in people over the age of 65. The risk of having a stroke more than doubles each decade after the age of 55.
Strokes can and do occur at ANY age. Nearly one fourth of strokes occur in people under the age of 65.
Stroke death rates are higher for African-Americans than for whites, even at younger ages.
On average, someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds.
Stroke accounted for about one of every 17 deaths in the United States in 2006. Stroke mortality for 2005 was 137,000.
From 1995–2005, the stroke death rate fell ~30 percent and the actual number of stroke deaths declined ~14 percent.
The risk of ischemic stroke in current smokers is about double that of nonsmokers after adjustment for other risk factors.
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is an independent risk factor for stroke, increasing risk about five-fold.
High blood pressure is the most important risk factor for stroke.

Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Canadian Statistics

In 2000, stroke accounted for 7% of all deaths – 15,409 Canadians.
Every seven minutes, a Canadian dies of heart disease or stroke.
Stroke was the second largest contributor to hospital care costs among cardiovascular diseases (2000-2001).
Eighty percent of Canadians have at least one of the risk factors for heart and/or cerebrovascular disease: daily smoking, physical inactivity, being overweight, self-reported high blood pressure, or diabetes.
Between 1969 and 1999, death rates for cerebrovascular disease decreased by 62%.

Learn more about stroke in Canada from The Growing Burden of Heart Disease and Stroke in Canada 2003, a report by the Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Control, the Canadian Cardiovascular Society, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.


Worldwide Statistics

According to the World Health Organization, 15 million people suffer stroke worldwide each year. Of these, 5 million die and another 5 million are permanently disabled.
High blood pressure contributes to more than 12.7 million strokes worldwide.
Europe averages approximately 650,000 stroke deaths each year.
In developed countries, the incidence of stroke is declining, largely due to efforts to lower blood pressure and reduce smoking. However, the overall rate of stroke remains high due to the aging of the population.

Source: World Health Report – 2002, from the World Health Organization.

The American Heart & Stroke Association has a great way to learn and recognize the signs of a stroke.
If you suspect someone is having a stroke, it is important to act F.A.S.T.

F Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven?

A Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?

T Time to call 9-1-1 – If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get the person to the hospital immediately. Check the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms appeared.

Whether you have a college student in your family or know of a military member, hopefully you have had an opportunity to put a smile on their face by sending a care package. It is that time of year where we wish our students well and send them off on their own. Whether it is their first time away from home or their fourth, a box of love always delivers happiness.

Over the years, as a military family, we have sent many care packages. I am hoping some of you have also sent and received these boxes of love. I am always looking for new ideas of what to put in my flat rate boxes.

Here are a few ideas of themed care packages:

Feel Better Soon
Lipton Soup Secret Chicken Noodle Soup
Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat Tea
Cough drops with honey
A box of Kleenex

Movie Night (One of my favorites)
A few new/favorite DVD’s
Boxes of movie size candy

I Love You a Latte
Tins of cappuccino mixes
Instant coffee
Non-dairy creamer
A new coffee mug
Sugar packets

Stress Reliever
Squishy tension ball
Pack this all with a lot of bubble wrap for them to pop

Boxed Up Bathroom
Toilet paper (the softer the better)
Shampoo & conditioner

You’ve Been Framed
Calendar made specifically to include photos of family and friends
Various size, random photographs offering fun memories
Tape to hang these pictures
A digital picture frame filled with pictures

Kidding Around
Crayons and a coloring book
Pez candy and dispenser
Nerf balls
Silly string

Something’s Fishy
Let’s Go Fishin’ game with batteries
Swedish fish candy
Gold Fish crackers
Gummy worms

Care Package flat rate box

These are my ideas. Now I want to read yours. What are some care packages you have heard about, seen, or received?

We had a great trip to Las Vegas, Nevada last month. I met a lot of amazing people while we were there. I was able to work a lot, but –of course- we also found time to play. We spent a few nights at the Downtown Grand. From there, we could easily get to University of Nevada – Las Vegas. I spent time meeting with sociology students at the college. After I spoke about the neurological conditions I had experienced, my visit led to conversations about medical care in America, how one identifies with one’s self, and various educational and family topics.

The next day offered an opportunity to visit the Cleveland Clinic in Las Vegas: Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. If you are interested in architecture, I highly recommend you look at the design of their building. It is quite fascinating both inside and outside. I was honored to have been invited in to their center to speak with doctors and staff. It is always rewarding to relay first-hand experiences with the people who work hard to advance the knowledge of how our brains work. While I think it is important for them to hear a patient’s perspective, I also find it fascinating when they share with me the new programs which are paving the way to healthier brains.

I met countless citizens of the downtown community in Las Vegas. The Window was a nice place to speak and meet people. I answered questions from curious minds. Downtown Podcast invited me into a venue I had never before had a chance to experience during my journey. Here, a group of volunteers come together once a week and videotape a podcast to share information with their growing community. I was lucky to have had the opportunity to meet this circle of passionate, civic-minded adults.

We did take time off from meetings and talking to people. We ate an over-abundant amount of delicious pizza at the award-winning Pizza Rock. This restaurant has four different wood fired pizza ovens which all cook at different temperatures. It was interesting to see pizzas cooked this way. Then we took a short walk to the Mob Museum. We spent hours and hours in there and could have spent longer.


Following my presentation at The Window.

Following my presentation at The Window.

Las Vegas provided me with the chance to meet special people who offer a lot of hope for our future. Each time I visit a new community, I learn something unique about what they have to offer. This trip reminded me of a great part of the city waiting to be seen, heard, and experienced beyond the strip. Most people are not fortunate enough to see this area during their visit to Las Vegas.

Pocket Watch

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