You can remember them with the acronym BEFAST.
Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, with a stroke occurring every 40 seconds, according to the CDC. Strokes are the leading cause for long-term disability in the U.S. Should you experience the signs of a stroke it is of utmost importance to realize time is of the essence. When treated emergently with thrombolytics or thrombectomy patients suffer fewer debilitating results and have a higher chance of returning home and back to normal functioning.
The highest level of neuro and stroke care initially exclusive to Wellstar Kennestone Hospital is now also available at Wellstar North Fulton Hospital. For individuals in Northeastern Georgia with brain and health concerns, including strokes and aneurysms, accessibility to the most advanced, lifesaving treatments are now available at Wellstar North Fulton Hospital. The highest level of services to patients who suffer life threatening or disability causing blockages, as well as weakened walls of the blood vessels in the brain are now available by the certified Comprehensive Stroke Centers at North Fulton Wellstar and Wellstar Kennestone Hospital. Wellstar invested nearly $6 million into a neurointerventional bi-plane image guided therapy system, dedicated Neuro Intensive Care, Critical Care Units, and specialized neuro-trained nurses and support staff.
Cindy Mejia now knows and appreciates the importance of BEFAST and the services available to her at Wellstar North Fulton Hospital. I had the opportunity to speak with Cindy about her experience receiving treatment, a thrombectomy with a stent, performed by Dr. Benjamin Zussman at Wellstar North Fulton Hospital. Having been associated with other friends and family victims of stroke I assumed our conversation would be somewhat “limited”. The stroke victims I had been accustomed to typically had difficulty with speech, slurring words, or had even lost the ability to speak at all. When Cindy began telling me her story I was amazed by her speech. I could not detect any trace of her having had a stroke. I had to interrupt as she told her story. Assuming she had been through an extreme amount of rehabilitation, I asked, “when did this stroke occur?” She replied “September 9, 2020”, three months prior to our conversation. I was intrigued by her response.
Cindy admitted she was hesitant to go to the hospital. That morning, Cindy went to her computer to check emails as she did every other day. She could not recall her computer password which she automatically typed numerous times a day. She tried to stand up from her desk but her right leg and right arm did not want to cooperate. Her son was downstairs when she tried to ask for help and the right side of her mouth went limp. Reluctant at first, Cindy realized she had to visit the emergency room as she recognized the signs of a stroke. Her son drove her to Wellstar North Fulton. She couldn’t get out of the car herself, so her son ran to get a nurse who promptly came with a wheelchair and before she knew it Cindy was on a roller bed surrounded by a team of highly trained experts. She remembers thinking, “I’m going to be ok. I don’t have to do a thing.” She told me she felt like the medical team was thinking “Game on. We got you.” She was right. What Cindy did not know, she was the first patient to receive the newly advanced treatment and state-of-the-art technology Wellstar North Fulton was now offering. Upon awakening from surgery, the first thing Cindy grabbed for was her hair. She laughed as she told me one of her first thoughts included having a shaved head post-surgery. Not only did Cindy have her hair, but the MRI indicated her brain had also been 99% restored. Dr. Benjamin Zussman explained to Cindy she had lost blood flow to the left side of her brain. Her decision to seek medical attention as soon as possible paid off.
Cindy’s daughter called her that Friday, she was admitted on Wednesday of the same week. Her daughter was busy making arrangements with friends and family to assist Cindy once she would be released from the hospital. “When are you leaving to go home?”, her daughter asked. “I’m already home.”, Cindy replied. Not only had Cindy’s brother already driven her home, but they also stopped at Target to fill a prescription for Cindy. Cindy could not believe two days after her experience she would be walking through Target.