A Carrickfergus football fan is backing an awareness campaign after surviving a mini stroke thanks to his wife’s ‘FAST’ thinking.
Adrian Hack, who is supporting the Stroke Association’s FAST Test initiative, had a TIA (Transient Ischaemic Attack) whilst sitting at home watching the 2014 World Cup on TV.
Adrian recalls: “The first thing I was aware of was that my gaze had involuntarily moved up to the ceiling and I couldn’t seem to bring my eyes down to the level of the TV screen again. I heard my wife Eileen say that the right-hand side of my face had drooped and when I went to lift my right hand to feel my face, I couldn’t move it. “Similarly, when I went to stand up to check my face in the mirror, I realised that my right leg wouldn’t move either. It was round about then I noticed that whilst I was thinking clearly enough, my speech was slurred and unrecognisable to me. Eileen recognised what was happening, as the FAST symptoms and phoned for an ambulance which took me to Antrim Area Hospital.”
After Adrian was discharged from hospital, he discovered in the months following he had been left with a number of less obvious, invisible effects.
Adrian continues: “I discovered that my words get muddled up sometimes and so I thought I would take up reading, but my concentration span and short term memory was so poor that I couldn’t follow the thread of the stories. Simple mental arithmetic has also gone to the dogs. Even the offers in the supermarket need a double-check, to make sure I’m getting the bargain I think I am.
“Day to day activities have to be more thought-through as well. Taking my dog Maxx for a walk is a real treat. Fresh air, exercise and a bit of ‘me’ time. Seems idyllic, but back then, it was anything but. Despite my outward bravado about leaving the house for an hour, inside I was ever so anxious about having another TIA and there being no one around to help.
“Now I know that I was carrying far too much weight, didn’t get enough exercise, on tablets to control my hypertension and my diet wasn’t exactly healthy.
“In the year after my TIA, I lost 50 pounds and really tried to make life changes to give me the best chance at avoiding another attack or worse. Those who know me, know how much I loved crisps and so I’m very proud of the fact that since being unwell, I have not eaten a single crisp, even on the occasion it’s presented as a side to a salad when in a café.”
Adrian is sharing his story to encourage people to learn, share and use the FAST test:
Face – Has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?
Arms – Can they raise both arms and keep them there?
Speech – Is their speech slurred?
Time – Time to call 999 if you see any single one of these signs.
Brenda Maguire from the Stroke Association, said: “Having a stroke is devastating. It can happen to anyone, of any age, at any time. Every second counts when you are having a stroke, so if you see any of the signs of stroke always call 999 immediately. The sooner somebody who is having a stroke gets urgent medical attention at a specialist stroke unit, the better their chances of a good recovery.
“We want more people in Northern Ireland to know the FAST test and be able to recognise a stroke.”