Most people assume strokes only occur in older adults but studies show strokes on are the rise for patients 18-44 years old. The Doctors invite on stroke victim 22-year-old Sawyer, and his neurosurgeon Dr. Joshua Marcus, to share Sawyer’s story.
Sawyer says it was a normal day when out of nowhere he couldn’t feel his right arm. His hand was closed into a tight fist and he had to physically unclench his own fingers. Then, he lost feeling in his right leg. He got very light headed and describes it as if “a part of my brain had short-circuited.” Sawyer’s natural instinct, which The Doctors later share was one of the worst things he could do, was to lie down and go to sleep.
His mother arrived home and knew something was wrong. Since Sawyer’s grandfather had had a stroke, his mother knew the signs and got Sawyer to the hospital. Dr. Marcus performed a mechanical thrombectomy on Sawyer. A catheter was inserted into his groin and guided all the way up the body to the brain where it was used to physically remove the blood clot out of his blood vessel and restore blood back to that part of his brain.
"Time is brain." This is important to remember for seizures says Dr. Marcus. He explains that for every second the brain is without oxygen, blood and nutrients, about 1.9 million brain cells are dying. Unlike in other parts of the body, these brain cells do not regenerate. The damage is irreversible. The long-term outcome depends on what blood vessel is affected. Some people lose their ability to speak, to move and can experience dizziness or vomiting. All of these signs are important for recognizing a stroke.
Sawyer shares his recovery story and says when his speech first returned, he was asked to count to ten and every time he got to seven he slipped into Spanish! Luckily, he can now count to ten in English and has made a full recovery!
While Sawyer had a unique case, it is still important to know the signs to look for a stroke in people of any age. Dr. Marcus shares the acronym to use to identify signs of a stroke called FAST:
- Face – facial weakness
- Arm – arm weakness
- Speech – difficulty with speech
- Time – time to call 9-1-1