By Toni Guzman, Guest Blogger and stroke survivor.

Richard (left) and Toni Guzman (right).

On the days leading up to my stroke on January 7, 2017, I chalked up my ‘not feeling right’ to being run down from the holidays that had just passed. I was experiencing tingling in my fingers, which I attributed to falling asleep on my arm. At one time that week, I swayed a bit while walking. And I attributed that to my sugar levels being off as I am a type 2 Diabetic.

That Friday at work January 6th, all I kept saying in my head was “I want to go home.” I was feeling so tired and having flu like symptoms. By the time I got home I was feeling a bit better… or was I?

Fast forward to that Saturday, the day that changed my life. My husband was cooking dinner when he noticed I was slurring as we were talking and the left side of my mouth was drooping. As strange as it seems, I could hear myself slurring and I was trying to correct it. I was so scared, I didn’t want to go to the hospital.  My husband shut the stove off, put my coat on for me, and away we went in the middle of an ice storm.

Long story short, I suffered a cryptogenic stroke, which simply means there is no known origin.  My MRI showed four strokes, yes, four. I am now on preventative medications, I have limited use of my right hand, I slur my words on occasion, and my short term memory is not up to par. I went to therapy last year and will be going back again to retrain my brain.

World Stroke Day is October 29 and if there is anything I can share with you it is to please go to the doctor if you do not feel right.  Go to the emergency room! When it comes to spotting stroke and getting help, the faster, the better. There are many minor illnesses that can mimic a stroke and education is key. Remember F.A.S.T! F- Face dropping A- Arm weakness S- Speech difficulty T- time to call 911. You can save your own life, or the life of a loved one or stranger, just by knowing the signs and symptoms of a stroke.

Learn more at StrokeAssociation.org/WorldStrokeDay.