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May 7, 2011

How to tell if you are having a stroke

Filed under: Health — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 9:08 am

In this morning’s news, I read an article here about stoke patients who call a family member or a friend, instead of calling 911, when they are having symptoms of a stroke.  According to the article, three out of four people don’t call 911.  I didn’t call 911 either when I was having a stoke.  Instead, I awakened a family member who lives with me and he rushed me to the hospital which is only a short distance from my home.  He parked illegally in the ambulance parking space and accompanied me inside, where we went past the waiting room and barged into the office of the nurse who decides who gets treatment first. As a result of having fast treatment, I have recovered completely.

I am writing about this in order to help someone else who might not know how to recognize the signs of a stroke.  You may have seen the ads on TV where a comedian tells people “If your arm is numb, use your good arm to dial 911.”  Should you dial 911 every time your arm goes numb?  Should you conclude that you are not having a stroke if your arm is not numb?  In my case, my arm was not numb and I was not feeling dizzy, which is another symptom that the comedian mentions.

For three or four weeks before I had my stroke, there were warning signs, which I did not know were serious.  The first symptom, which I didn’t recognize, was a slight dragging of my left foot.  This was apparently caused by a tiny stroke that I had before the big one.  I was worried that I might be having the first symptom of ALS (Lou Gehrig disease).  I was so afraid that I might have ALS that I didn’t consult a doctor.

Another symptom that I had for about three weeks before the stroke was a feeling of extreme fatigue, both mentally and physically.  I didn’t feel like doing anything or going anywhere.  The night that I had the stroke, I had gone to bed at 8 p.m. and had not had the strength to even take off my clothes.

I should have known that something was seriously wrong when I started having “dry mouth” at night, for about 3 weeks before the stroke.  The TV comedian jokes about people looking up their symptoms on the Internet, and that’s exactly what I did.  Unfortunately, I did not find out on my Internet search that “dry mouth” is a symptom of failing kidneys and that the kidneys control blood pressure.  A stroke is caused when there is a sudden spike in blood pressure which causes a bit of plaque on the walls of the arteries to break loose and form a blood clot.  If a clot in the carotid artery goes up into the brain, it cuts off the blood supply, and this is what doctors call a stroke.

In case, you don’t know what “dry mouth” is, it is the feeling you have when you have no saliva in your mouth at all.  This is also a symptom of diabetes, a medical condition which is also caused by failing kidneys, according to my Chinese doctor. Sometimes you will hear that “dry mouth” is one of the side effects of a medication that is being advertised on TV.  This is a warning that this medication could cause kidney damage, but they don’t tell you that.

The actual symptoms that I experienced when I was having a stroke included a cramp in my left leg as well as weakness in the left leg, which made it hard for me to walk.  I also had weakness in my left arm and I seemed to have no control over the movement of my arm, although there was no numbness.  I did not feel dizzy and I did not have a headache.  Instead, I felt a strange feeling of nausea in my head which was something that I had never felt before.  It was this strange feeling in my head that made me realize that something was seriously wrong.  If not for that one symptom, I probably would have ignored the other symptoms.

So to make a long story short, if you have a feeling of extreme fatigue and “dry mouth” at night, get yourself to a doctor as soon as you can and find out if you have weak kidneys.  A  Chinese doctor can tell you if your kidneys are functioning normally and if your kidneys are weak, he can give you some harmless herbs that will improve kidney function.  I am still taking herbs for the kidneys and if I have occasional “dry mouth” at night, I  increase the number of herb pills.

While I was having the stroke, I walked into the hospital with no help. I was not slurring my speech; my vision was not blurred.  If I had called 911, the medics might have refused to take me because I didn’t appear to be having a stroke.  I could have been sitting in the waiting room for hours if my family member had not rushed me into the triage room.  The triage nurse shined a pen light in my eyes to determine if I was having a stroke. My blood pressure was 205/100 which was enough to get me admitted to the hospital. A cat scan showed that I had had a stroke.  An EKG showed that my heart was normal.

A stoke can also be caused by a blood vessel breaking in your head.  If that happens, you don’t want to be on a blood thinner because you want your blood to clot.  That’s why I don’t take daily aspirin.  My Chinese doctor agrees that one should not take blood thinners.


  1. What is the herb you’re taking?

    Comment by mickiesings57 — October 20, 2016 @ 12:05 pm

    • You wrote: “What is the herb you’re taking?” [to prevent a stroke]

      I don’t take any drugs of any kind. At this time, I am not taking any Chinese herbs. I am only taking Turmeric pills, which you can buy in any grocery store.

      Comment by furtherglory — October 20, 2016 @ 12:43 pm

  2. Lady with the TCM doctor, good for you! Ignore the negative remarks. Mostly thank you for mentioning the weeks of fatigue before your stroke, thats what happened to me. Did your TCM guy (or anyone )explain that to you? I’d been feeling weak and toxic for 2 months and went to see my md ahead of schedule to tell her that something was definately wrong, and she nastily and durogatorily remarked that maybe I needed to be “inpatiented” for depression. Three days later I had a stroke.. My tongue felt like it was asleep and I couldnt tallk for a few minutes, and my left hand was asleep, I couldn’t hold on to anything. The previous two days I’d noticed strange purple splotches in one eye, and a few times the finger tips on my left hand were numb. All those combined I had my 90 yr old neighbor take me to the ER. They ran a CT and ekg and gave me some aspirin saying all tests were normal and sent me home. Because of the visual anomalies I went to my eye specialist who found a very definate stroke in my retina.
    Battery dying…good luck to everyone

    Comment by Kathe Reid — September 12, 2015 @ 12:05 pm

  3. The fact that you are 81 years old explains why you believe this junk the Chinese Herb Doctor is telling you. I bet you have to buy the herbs from him>>>>>RIGHT?

    Comment by PATRICIA LEDET — February 28, 2015 @ 3:11 pm

    • You are commenting on a blog post, which I wrote 4 years ago. I have not had another stroke since then. Yes, I do buy the herbs from the Chinese doctor. I suppose I could go to China to buy these herbs in a drug sore, if they have drug stores in China, but it is more convenient for me to buy them from my TCM doctor, who imports them from China.

      You are correct that a person, who is 81 years old, is more likely to believe in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) than a young person who has been raised on Western medicine since birth. The TCM pills do not come with a long list of side effects, as Western medicine pills do.

      Comment by furtherglory — February 28, 2015 @ 5:25 pm

  4. Correction. The dry mouth on medicine TV adverts is a cholinergic side effect of a medication, and unrelated to the kidneys. If kidney toxicity were part of the medicine’s profile, they would allude to that fact.
    A good example of this would be Benadryl. It’s a not too uncommon side effect.

    Comment by db0255 — July 6, 2014 @ 3:48 am

    • The dry mouth caused by medication means that the medication is destroying your kidneys.

      Comment by furtherglory — July 6, 2014 @ 12:35 pm

      • There’s no proof to that comment, and seeing as your comment is absolute and generalized gives it even less credence. Dry mouth is a common side effect of anticholinergics; this has nothing to do with your kidneys.

        Your comment implies every medication that causes dry mouth is a nephrotoxin. Since many common medications cause dry mouth sometimes as a side effect, this means they’re all nephrotoxins. Clearly this is not true, so your comment cannot possibly be true.

        Comment by db0255 — July 6, 2014 @ 1:56 pm

        • You sound like a doctor.

          When I began to suffer from dry mouth, I consulted a TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) doctor, who told me that this was a symptom of kidney failure. He prescribed some herb pills, which I have been taking for a couple of years, and have had no more dry mouth.

          For years, my resting heart rate was 43 beats per minute. Western doctors told me that I should be a marathon runner because of my excellent heart rate. But my TCM doctor told me that I have a “strong heart beat” which is not a good thing. He prescribed some herb pills which have brought my heart rate up to 50 beats per minute, which my TCM doctor says is normal for my age (81).

          Comment by furtherglory — July 6, 2014 @ 3:51 pm

          • It doesn’t matter what I sound like, I’m simply following your reasoning to its logical conclusion.

            If A (dry mouth) is brought about by B (kidney failure), and A also brought about by C (cholinergic antagonism); then it follows that A could be caused by B or C. If you know nothing of C or any other cause for that matter, it would seem the only reason for A is B, but in reality could be anything.

            A strong heart beat indicates your heart may be working harder than normal. HR can very well be inversely correlated with BP. So your low HR is low because your BP is so high (hell you had a TIA or stroke); raising your HR is not the solution here. Lowering your BP is.

            Comment by db0255 — July 6, 2014 @ 7:03 pm

  5. what to take instead of aspirin? If given for angina?

    Comment by Francesca Bennett — May 9, 2014 @ 11:14 am

    • Nitroglycerin aka nitro. If your angina responds to that then your pain is probably heart-related aka go to a doctor/ER ASAP.

      Aspirin is a good choice also.

      Comment by db0255 — July 6, 2014 @ 3:50 am

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