We are surrounded by warning signs. Why is it that the majority of us don’t pay attention to them until it’s too late? Impatient flyers, squirm in their seats, wishing for the stewardess to conclude her show and tell, drivers speed by cautions signs and find themselves nose to nose with an oncoming train and then there are the people like myself, who read medical warnings, but never imagine facing a life threatening medical emergency. Somehow, even though we are aging, we still feel like vibrant teenagers with our long life ahead of us. We believe we are immune to everything that could negatively impact our lives.
A few years back I was diagnosed with sleep apnea. I went to the doctor, complaining that I would wake up in the middle of the night feeling like I was descending into darkness, desperately trying to flip an internal switch to get my lungs to breath and my heart to start beating. It was (and continually is) a petrifying feeling. My description of sleep apnea is a nightly ritual of facing death and waking up, feeling as though you are a hero, successfully slaying monsters through the night.
My doctor gave me a flimsy pamphlet with minimal information on the subject. After I got home and started to research it, I was surprised that my doctor wasn’t a little more informative or concerned for my future health. It was as though it was no big deal that I had a condition that could possibly kill me if it was left untreated.
Sleep apnea can lead to diabetes, obesity, depression, heart attack, stroke or sudden death. After all of the research I did, I decided it would be best to move forward with my treatment plan and order a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine. Trust me, I was not very happy about wearing a long-hosed mask on my face every night. I was quite vain at the time and fretted over the possibility of finding Mr. Right and losing him as soon as he had to sleep next to me, wearing this crazy thing on my face. I got past that feeling quickly when I realized that Mr. Right is nowhere in sight. So, the mask went on! Problem solved! Well, maybe not?
I’ve always heard about the warning signs for a stroke – FAST
F – Facial Drooping
A – Arm Weakness or inability to raise arm
S – Speech difficulty
T – Time – Don’t waste it. Get yourself to the emergency room immediately
In October 2016 I experienced the “signs of a stroke” but just couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that I could be having a one. How could it be possible? I wasn’t even 50 years old yet. I’m basically a healthy, active person. How could this be? So, I chose to not listen to the warning signs. I waited long enough that I was not eligible for the medication that can be administered during the crucial part of the stroke. My recovery was more successful than I originally thought it would be, but I still struggle every day with memory loss and concentration issues, but I realize how incredibly fortunate I truly am. I’ve learned a very important lesson. I now pay attention to all the warning signs, even if I don’t think it pertains to me. I hope you’ll pay attention too. One day, those reminders will come in handy and save someone’s life.