I thought I was pretty informed about strokes. About six and a half years ago, my mom had a stroke. Since then, I’ve read about it and learned a lot. It wasn’t until my mom had a small stroke while we were on vacation recently that I learned that there were additional signs of a stroke.
In Mom’s case, the symptoms that we witnessed were not signs of her stroke. Instead, they were signs of various sensory-related seizures that resulted from her stroke. Still, if we hadn’t noticed these odd symptoms of an issue, we may have never discovered that she had another stroke.
Common Signs of a Stroke
Although I was aware of some of the warning signs of a stroke, I had never heard of the F.A.S.T. acronym.
- Face drooping
- Arm weakness
- Speech difficulty
- Time to call 911
According to GoRedForWomen.org, some other signs of a stroke include:
- sudden numbness or weakness, particularly on only one side of the body;
- confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding speech;
- trouble seeing or blurred vision in one or both eyes;
- trouble walking;
- loss of balance; and
- sudden headache.
If you or someone near you experiences any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately. With strokes, early detection and treatment are essential. In some cases, acting quickly can reduce the amount of trauma to the brain.
Additional Signs of a Stroke
In CPR training, I became aware of the signs of a stroke. All of the signs listed above are common and, until now, the only warning signs that I associated with a stroke.
Recently, my whole family went on vacation to Orlando. My mom started acting strange, but I never suspected that she had had a small stroke.
One day, my parents watched my boys while my husband and I went on a day date to Universal Studios. They went put-putting and about two-thirds of the way through, my mom said that she needed to stop. She felt like she was getting heat stress.
They went back to our room, and my mom started hallucinating. She kept thinking someone was behind her. Even when she was looking directly at my dad and sons, she still thought someone was behind her.
She rested during the day and slept into the night. The next morning, she got up and seemed better but didn’t think she should go out that day. By dinner time, she was ready to go out again.
At dinner, she felt like her glasses weren’t sitting correctly on her face. She asked my dad and I what was wrong with them. When we told her that they looked level and fine, she got mad at us–like we were trying to play some prank on her or something.
It took a little bit of time, but she got over her glasses situation. Then, I’m not sure what happened, but she started laughing hysterically at my youngest son. She was laughing and laughing, and he kept telling her that it wasn’t funny. But, she wouldn’t stop laughing. I was about to intercede and tell her to stop when she finally quit.
Then, later that night over a period of about an hour, she had more hallucinations, another paranoid insistance that my dad and I were trying to trick her, and more hysterical laughter. It was so wild that she even asked if she was laughing inappropriately, and my dad told her she was. She got herself under control within seconds.
When she woke up early the next morning, she told my dad that she shouldn’t go with us to Magic Kingdom. He passed on her message, and per the wishes of my parents, my family and I headed out for the day.
On our drive, my husband had the idea that my dad should call my mom’s doctor and notify them of her symptoms. My dad had also had that idea, and the doctor’s office said that my mom should be seen at urgent care or the nearest emergency room.
When my dad woke my mom up, he had her talk to me on the phone. “You haven’t left Disney World, have you? Because I don’t want you to leave. I want you to stay there.”
“No, Mom. We’re in line for Peter Pan.”
We talked for a little while, and she asked me the same question again. I gave her the exact same response. Once again, we talked for a little while and went through the same conversation again. Calmly, I asked to talk to my dad.
I wasn’t sure if our poor conversation was due to bad phone reception, all the noise on my end, the fact that she just woke up, or a brain issue. Regardless, Dad said that they were going to get ready and head over to the Urgent Care center.
As they were getting ready to leave, my mom had an episode where, although she was seated, she felt like she was falling. They called the ambulance.
At the ER, they ran all of the appropriate tests and discovered that my mom had a lacunar infarct. This is a type of stroke. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), lacunar strokes represent about one-fifth of all strokes.
From the research that I’ve done, I’ve discovered that lacunar infarcts occur when an artery deep in the brain becomes blocked. This blockage then prevents that area of the brain from getting appropriate blood and oxygen.
When a part of the brain doesn’t have a healthy blood supply, it is impacted by this lack of nutrients and oxygen. Basically, it starts to malfunction. Since the brain controls so much of our body, it’s hard to predict in exactly what way the symptoms will manifest. It really depends on where the infarct is located in your brain as to the symptoms that you might notice.
As we finished with the Magic Kingdom, Mom finally got admitted to her room. We went out to the hospital to see her. She asked about my day, and I started to tell her about all the rides we went on and all the things we did.
“Don’t think you’re fooling me about what you’re doing here,” she said when I was about halfway through my list.
“What?” I was really confused. “What am I doing?”
“Hmm. You don’t fool me.” I looked at my dad. He was just as confused as I was. “How was my day?”
“I don’t know. How was your day, Mom?”
“Well, I don’t know. You tell me.” This comment was directed at my dad. Dad reminded her about calling 911, having all the tests, finding out that she had a lacunar infarct, and getting admitted to the room.
In the short time that we were there, Mom accused Dad and I of withholding information (regarding her health and the identity of a person who walked by the room). She hallucinated Dad talking to someone outside the room.
We decided to call it a night and go back to our condo to pack so we could leave in the morning. Our week of vacation was up and, whether Mom was out of the hospital or not, we needed to be out of our timeshare.
When we arrived Saturday morning, Mom shared some symptoms of her stroke that were only noticeable to her. She had been having significant vision and hearing issues.
Sometimes, it was like something she saw would get stuck on a loop, and she would see it over and over. The only thing I can think to compare it to is a gif, where a short video segment might be consecutively looped three or four times in a row. She thought that this was why she was laughing at my son so much at dinner Thursday. From her perspective, he kept doing the exact same thing over and over again.
Another issue she had was what I’ll call slow-mo. If you’ve ever watched a portion of a movie on slow-mo, you know that the actions and sound get slowed down. That was her world. When people spoke, she thought they were speaking very slowly. Pauses seemed to last forever.
Eventually, all of the doctors signed off and released my mom. We started the lengthy drive back to St. Louis, where they recommended that she follow up with her doctors.
Mom’s Signs of a Stroke
I was completely shocked that my mom had had a small stroke. She had none of the traditional symptoms of a stroke. Yet, when you think about it, she sure was showing signs that there was something wrong with her brain.
Please be aware that, with smaller strokes, the symptoms might also be smaller and less noticeable. Symptoms might show up as unnecessary frustration, hallucination, paranoia, or an inability to remember words.
If there is ever an occasion where you think your brain or someone else’s brain is not quite functioning properly, go to the doctor immediately! Rapid medical attention can make a considerable difference in the damage caused and your ability to recover.
What are some additional signs of a stroke? Please leave a comment below if you know of any so that we can make this article as helpful as possible.
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