Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Stroke Identification

A nurse friend sent this to me and encouraged me to use it for a column to help spread the word. I agree. If everyone can remember something this simple, we could save some lives. During a BBQ, a friend stumbled and took a little fall - she assured everyone that she was fine (they offered to call paramedics) ....she said she had just tripped over a brick because of her new shoes. They got her cleaned up and got her a new plate of food. While she appeared a bit shaken up, Ingrid went about enjoying herself the rest of the evening. Ingrid's husband called later telling everyone that his wife had been taken to the hospital - (at 6:00 pm Ingrid passed away.) She had suffered a stroke at the BBQ. Had they known how to identify the signs of a stroke, perhaps Ingrid would be with us today. Some don't die.... they end up in a helpless condition instead. It only takes a minute to read this... A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke. He said the trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed, and then getting the patient medically cared for within 3 hours, which is tough. Sometimes, symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke. Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions: S * Ask the individual to SMILE. T * Ask the person to TALK and SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently) (i.e. It is sunny out today) R * Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS. If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call 911 immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher. NOTE: Another 'sign' of a stroke is this: Ask the person to 'stick' out his tongue. If the tongue is 'crooked', if it goes to one side or the other, that is also an indication of a stroke. While I am passing along helpful health information, I’d also like to share with you how symptoms of a heart attack in women differ than symptoms men experience. Did you know that women rarely have the same dramatic symptoms that men have when experiencing heart attack? ..... You know, the sudden stabbing pain in the chest, the cold sweat, grabbing the chest & dropping to the floor that we see in the movies. Here is the story of one woman's experience with a heart attack. "I had a completely unexpected heart attack at about 10:30 pm with NO prior exertion; NO prior emotional trauma that one would suspect might've brought it on. I was sitting comfortably in my recliner. The next moment, I felt that awful sensation of indigestion. After that feeling had seemed to subside, the next sensation was like little squeezing motions that seemed to be racing up my spine. This continued on into my throat and branched out into both jaws. I stopped puzzling about what was happening--we all have read and/or heard about pain in the jaws being one of the signals of heart attack happening, haven't we? I said aloud to myself, "Dear God, I think I'm having a heart attack!" “I lowered the foot rest of my recliner, started to take a step and fell on the floor instead. I thought to myself "If this is a heart attack, I shouldn't be walking into the next room where the phone is or anywhere else......,but, on the other hand, if I don't, nobody will know that I need help, and if I wait any longer I may not be able to get up in moment". I pulled myself up with the arms of the chair, walked slowly into the next room, and dialed the Paramedics... I told her I thought I was having a heart attack due to the pressure building under the sternum and radiating into my jaws. I didn't feel hysterical or afraid, just stating the facts. She said she was sending the Paramedics over immediately, asked if the front door was near to me, and if so, to unbolt the door and then lie down on the floor where they could see me when they came in. "I then laid down on the floor as instructed and lost consciousness, as I don't remember the medics coming in, their examination, lifting me onto a gurney or getting me into their ambulance, or hearing the all they made to ER on the way.” “I did briefly awaken when we arrived and saw that the Cardiologist was already there in his surgical blues and cap, helping the medics pull my stretcher out of the ambulance. He was bending over me asking questions (probably something like "Have you taken any medications?") but I couldn't make my mind interpret what he was saying, or form an answer, and nodded off again, not waking up until the Cardiologist had already threaded the teeny angiogram balloon up my femoral artery into the aorta and into my heart where they installed 2 side by side stents to hold open my right coronary artery.” "I know it sounds like all my thinking and actions at home must have taken at least 20-30 minutes before calling the Paramedics, but actually it took perhaps 4-5 minutes before the call, and both the fire station and hospital are only minutes away from my home, and my Cardiologist was already to go to the OR in his scrubs and get going on restarting my heart (which had stopped somewhere between my arrival and the procedure) and installing the stents.” Be aware that something very different is happening in your body not the usual men's symptoms, but inexplicable things happening (until my sternum and jaws got into the act). It is said that many more women than men die of their first (and last) heart attack because they didn't know they were having one, and commonly mistake it as indigestion.and go to bed, hoping they'll feel better in the morning when they wake up....which doesn't happen. Your symptoms might not be exactly the same as described, so call the Paramedics if ANYTHING is unpleasantly happening that you've not felt before. It is better to have a "false alarm" visitation than to risk your life guessing what it might be! Note that I said "Call the Paramedics". Ladies, TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE! Do NOT try to drive yourself to the ER--you're a hazard to others on the road, and so is your panicked husband who will be speeding and looking anxiously at what's happening with you instead of the road. Do NOT call your doctor--he doesn't now where you live and if it's at night you won't reach him anyway, and if it's daytime, his assistant (or answering service) will tell you to call the Paramedics. He doesn't carry the equipment in his car that you need to be saved! The Paramedics do. Don't assume it couldn't be a heart attack because you have a normal cholesterol count. Research has discovered that a cholesterol elevated reading is rarely the cause of a heart attack (unless it's unbelievably high, and/or accompanied by high blood pressure.) Let's be careful and be aware. The more we know, the better chance we could survive...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Art as Therapy and Expression for All Ages

It may surprise you to learn that art can be both healing and life-enhancing. The creativity that art making evokes is an opportunity to express oneself imaginatively, authentically, and spontaneously; an experience that, over time, can lead to personal fulfillment, emotional reparation, and transformation. This view also holds that the creative process, in and of itself, can be a health-enhancing and growth-producing experience. The Dale Association’s PROS Center for Wellness and Senior Centre welcome 2013 Niagara Art Trail visitors to 33 Ontario Street, Lockport on Friday, November 22nd from 4:00 – 6:30pm. Art will be on display and hand-crafted, affordable gifts will be on sale. And, perhaps the most unique feature along the art trail - “Recovery Suite” will be debuting at The Dale Association during Friday nights’ open house. “Recovery Suite” is a work in process for guitar and percussion and will include a mix of original tunes by Jim Caughill. Light refreshments will be served Clients of The Dale’s PROS Center for Wellness explore their life journey through art with wellness counselor Kristin Penny-Dunlap. “This special collection of recovery based art represents our clients’ individual goals and challenges. Our collaborative peer project demonstrates the power of group support through this multi media piece. We invite the public to experience a visual representation of the process of mental wellness and recovery,” says Penny-Dunlap. Art therapy is a form of expressive therapy that uses art materials, such as paints, chalk, markers, and clay. The purpose of art therapy is much the same as in any other psychotherapeutic approach - to improve or maintain mental health and emotional well-being. “Self Expression Through Art” group is creating a piece on values and core beliefs. The “Mood Management” group is using the inspiration of looking at life in a positive way, turning negative thoughts into positive actions. “Telling Your Story Through Art” group is creating symbols that tell their stories. Colorful chalk art, created by participants of The Dale’s Memory Minders Program (social day program for adults with memory loss) will also be on display. Dementia robs many of the precious faculties from a person; however, artistic ability does not appear to be one of them, according to a recent study. This study shows promising results for dementia patients whose artistic ability has allowed them to continue to communicate with loved ones, because it enables them to bypass the language problems and have them express themselves in a different way. We see this at The Dale Association, as well. Quilts, created by The Dale’s quilters will be on loan for the art show, as well. Quilt group leader, Marilyn Harris, is happy that the public will see the unique and beautiful quilts. Artist and Dale painting teacher Toni Bullock will display her work and offer guests a sneak peak at the upcoming landscape painting class (no experience needed – so this is the opportunity for “budding artists” to finally take the painting class they’ve always wanted to take). Handmade items, perfect for the upcoming holidays will also be on sale during the art trail. The Dale Association has long supportive creative arts as a way of achieving positive health and invites the public to stop by during the Niagara Art Trail. Free admission and all are welcome! For more information, please call 433-1886.