Friday, April 5, 2013

What Do TIA and FAST Stand For?

They are both acronyms
TIA means Transient Ischemic Attack, also known as a mini-stroke.
My father-in-love had one yesterday.
As of this morning, we still don't know where it occurred in his body.
It could have been in his brain or in his carotid artery.
He had 3 CT scans (another acronym--Computed Tomography--medicine is just full of them), 
with and without contrast.
As of 10pm last night, when he finally got into a room, we still didn't know a lot.
The only thing we know is that the use of his left arm, or lack thereof, was his one and only symptom.

What Dad did do was follow the advice of our other acronym.
To act FAST
(Face, Arm, Speech, Time)
The American Heart Association was nice enough to put together a little sign to demonstrate the meaning of FAST.
Dad had arm weakness.
He called us first and then called 911.

What I have learned in the last 12 hours:

1. You can leave a basket full of groceries at the grocery store and explain to the manager that your FIL is having a stroke and they'll send you on your way with a, "I'll be praying for him."

2. If you're racing somewhere in your car, someone can and will be going far below the speed limit---in front of you.

3. While my kids have always been wonderful and reliable, they will step up to the plate and take care of each other, the pets and the house when there is a crisis.  

4.  If you are taking coumadin for a previous heart surgery, you aren't a candidate for the "clot buster" they would normally give after any signs of a stroke.  Coumadin is a pretty darn fine clot buster, all on its own.  However, this makes treating a stroke terribly difficult.

5. If the hospital you're at does not have a neurologist on site, they might have a cool technology for video conferencing/video examination with a neurologist in Baltimore.
(High five to Eric's employer, Cisco, for inventing it!)

6. No matter how nice the hospital is and how nice the people are, there is a lot of "hurry up and wait". Unless you're bleeding out your eyeballs or something.  I'm guessing there's less waiting with that.

7. Different family members react differently to crisis.  Some ask too many questions.  Some whistle and tap fingers. Some ask no questions. Some watch and wait.  Some think about what we need to get done today.  Some think about what this could mean a week or month down the road.  Some spend a lot of time on the internet researching. Some don't care to know.  No judgement on my part, just an observation.

8. If you are taking more than one or two medications and have more than one or two doctors, it will make a visit to the ER much more productive if you have it all written down in your wallet.  
(High five to Mom and Dad!!)

9. Crisis causes deep, exhausted sleep or restless, worried sleep.
Again, no judgement.  The body takes care of itself.  Sometimes the mind chooses not to listen.

10.  The internet and cell phones/texting are wonderful inventions.  A prayer request went out to our church family within moments of Dad's call to me saying his left arm wasn't working.

Hopefully, today there will be more light shed on what has happened to Dad and what is next.
We do know there'll be rehab.  As the internist put it yesterday, "Intense physical and occupational therapy."


  1. Oh gosh! PRAYERS coming your way and for your family and father-in-law!


  2. Good list of info...

    Keep on keeping on with the speak so kindly of him and I am sure he appreciates it so much!

  3. Oh my word! I will most certainly add your family your father-in-law to my prayer list. Thank you for sharing the list of info. Please keep us up to date on his recovery.