Why World Stroke Day Is Important To Me And You
I am thrilled to work with the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association to help spread awareness of World Stroke Day. Every opinion stated is 100% mine.
Do you remember what you were doing on August 30, 2016?
Yeah, me neither.
Apparently whatever I was doing was more important than answering the phone when my friend of 22 years called to talk.
I can imagine the moments leading up to the phone call went a little like this: I was busy with my life, wrangling four kids, sitting in school pick-up lines for hours on end, struggling to catch up on my laundry and my ever-expanding to-do list. You know, a normal day in most moms’ lives. The phone rang, I looked at my screen and thought “Dawn! She’s always so super funny and engaging to talk to, but right now I MUST match these 31 random socks or else my life will implode. I will talk to her later!”
Except later never came. I never got a chance to talk to her again. Ever.
Dawn left me a voicemail that day, nothing out of the ordinary, she just wanted to catch up. But we never had that luxury, we never spoke again. I still have her message saved on my phone — along with the last voicemail from my late grandmother in 2014. (Weird right?! You should probably be leery if I start to saving your voicemails!)
Dawn’s voicemail is a stark reminder that “later” may never come. “Later” shouldn’t be a goal or a destination and it certainly shouldn’t be taken for granted. “Later” is a gift not afforded to everyone.
A few weeks after receiving the voicemail from Dawn, I got a call from her husband. Dawn was found unconscious in her living room. She remained in a coma for several days and eventually passed away. The cause of her death: a stroke.
A sudden, unfair, and unexpected fate for my young, sarcastic, loving and always so full of life friend. She was a mother of two, married, in a great place in her life, everything going for her, except for her health – apparently.
Dawn was “my person” all the way through my 20s and into my 30s. We helped each other navigate life, work, love, and personal struggles. We laughed exponentially more than we cried. We healed, learned, grew and matured. Eventually, we grew apart, but our roads always ended up crossing and we remained in each other’s lives for over 22 years. We were each other’s biggest cheerleaders and strongest pillars. And now she’s gone.
The shock of Dawn’s passing shook me to my core. The same way the original cast of Beverly Hills 90210 must have felt when their co-star and leading man Luke Perry passed away from a stroke earlier this year.
Nothing reminds us of our own mortality more than losing a friend, acquaintance, relative, or even a celebrity our own age. Suddenly, we are reminded that good health isn’t to be taken for granted, just like “tomorrow” and “later” aren’t a given, they are gifts.
In Luke Perry’s honor, the cast of Beverly Hills 90210 and BH90210 are raising money for the American Stroke Association – and here’s how you can participate in their campaign.
- Visit Omaze for ALL the details.
- Make a donation.
- You are automatically entered to win a meet and greet with the cast.
- Prize includes: Trip to Los Angeles, meet-and-greet and lunch with the cast in the real 90210.
This October 29 is World Stroke Day and I am proud to work with the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association to spread awareness of what you can do to prevent and stroke and which steps you should take if you see stroke-like symptoms in a loved one.
So what can YOU do to prevent a stroke?
The good news is that 80% of first strokes may be prevented by healthy lifestyle choices.
Top 6 Healthy Habits That May Prevent a Stroke:
- Enjoy a healthy and varied diet.
- Your mom was right: “eat your veggies” was and still is sound advice!
- Not only do fruits and vegetables provide you nutrients and vitamins, but they may also lower your blood pressure, improve heart health and brain function.
- Keep your blood pressure under control and within normal limits.
- High blood pressure is the No. 1 controllable risk factor for stroke.
- Know your number and work closely with your trusted medical professional to lower and/ or maintain your blood pressure.
- Get restorative sleep.
- Having healthy sleep habits and sleep hygiene help ensure the quality of your nightly sleep.
- Aim to get 7-9 hours of sleep, for your health today and long-term.
- Meditate and practice mindfulness.
- Studies are showing that mindfulness and meditation may help increase blood flow to the brain and lower blood pressure when used along with blood pressure medication.
- Meditation is a great stress-reliever, which is something we could all benefit from.
- Get moving and exercise.
- Even moderate exercise, such as a brisk walk is effective in lowering your blood pressure, which reduces your risk of having a stroke.
- Don’t smoke – for lots of reasons.
- Smoking is known to be a real risk factor for strokes and high blood pressure.
- If you ARE a smoker, consult your trusted medical professional to get help to quit today.
Recognizing the signs of a stroke may very well save someone’s life and drastically improve their recovery process.
The Most Common Stroke Warning Signs:
Remember the acronym: FAST *
- Face: Drooping or facial numbness. Ask the person to smile and watch for an uneven smile.
- Arm: Arm weakness or numbness. Ask the person to raise both arms and watch for one of them to drift downward.
- Speech: Slurred speech. Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence and watch for speech difficulties.
- Time: Call 911 if the person is exhibiting one or more of these symptoms. Time is of the essence and getting early medical treatment may prevent long term damage, even death.
Unfortunately, it is too late for me to return Dawn’s call and sharing these tips with you won’t bring her back. But in her honor, I personally vow to be healthier and do what I can to maintain healthy blood pressure through diet and exercise – for my own health and for all the tomorrows with my family.
How will you celebrate World Stroke Day?