2 weeks prior to my stroke I began experiencing pain in the right side of my face. It was like a headache but in the face. I did not feel the pain daily but maybe every couple of days or so. I thought I might have a sinus infection. I didn't see a doctor because the pain was not unbearable, just a nuisance.I remember one moment in particular when my face hurt, I ran my hand along my cheekbone and then along my jawline. At that moment the worst, stabbing pain occurred that ran up through my ear to the top of my head. I thought, "Hell, don't do that again." I didn't, but I also told no one. In hindsight, when that occurred I should have consulted a physician. But I talked myself out of it, just a sinus infection, give it time.What I didn't realize was that the pain I was feeling was the result of a dissected carotid artery, which was the root cause of my stroke. The pain started June 2, 2012; the stroke occurred June 21. When we were in the ER and (mistakenly) believed I had stabilized from the initial stroke attack, I described my facial pain to the ER doc and asked her, "As long as I'm here do you think this pain I've been experiencing to be a sinus infection, and if so, can we do something to clear it up?" The doc said, "You don't have a sinus infection." She ordered that I be given an aspirin and put to bed. Shortly after that, the carotid ballooned up again cutting off the blood flow to the right side of my brain, and here I am.
So, Kevin, your question is a good one. Something had changed, I recognized it, but did nothing.Had I reported this to a physician, no guarantee he/she would have diagnosed it correctly; hell, the ER doc missed it! Bottom line: we all need a PCP, and we need to report any changes in physical health/well-being to our docs; most will competently diagnose the situation.