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tmciriani

The Acronym F.A.S.T. Doesn't Cover Cerebellar Stroke

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I am proud to say I have influenced a change at least for my local area's hospital stroke care and protocol. So 3 months ago my stroke support group hosted a local Neurosurgeon to speak about stroke to us as well as many of the hospital staff and other stroke survivors and caretakers not in our group. It was a really awesome seminar and we covered many big topics about stroke, including F.A.S.T. This is where I began asking questions because I had a cerebellar stroke. It does not usually fall under F.A.S.T., it's only less than 2% of all strokes combined, it is the least researched stroke, and the stroke most often misdiagnosed. F.A.S.T. is what the American Stroke Association pushes to recognize when someone is having a stroke. 1st F.A.S.T. has a general meaning...know these symptoms of a stroke and get help fast...a person's life depends on it. F=face (drooping, uneven smile, usually on one side) A=arms (can a person hold their arms straight out in front of them or does one of them slowly fall or can't be lifted) S=speech (ask the person to repeat a sentence or answer a question. Is their speech slurred, not able to be understood, or is the person having trouble just speaking.) T=time (If you said yes to any of the above then it's TIME to call 911.) Time can save lives. My stroke, however, was different. I had no one sided weakness issues in my face or arms, I did have trouble speaking but the biggest issues apparent were severe pain behind the eyes, issues seeing with the eyes, extreme central vertigo or balance issues, uncontrollable extreme nausea and vomiting, walking/ coordination issues, and double vision. My stroke was massive, bilateral and still misdiagnosed until almost 2 months after. I was extremely lucky to live. I asked him many questions probably more than anyone. He acknowledged the extreme differences and that F.A.S.T. didn't include cerebellar stroke symptoms. I asked him if the ASA had any plans to change the acronym for one that includes these symptoms as well. His answer was no. The acronym is used to help others recognize the warning signs of most strokes. 98% of all strokes fall within F.A.S.T. Obviously being the only person at the seminar who had had a cerebellar stroke, I was a bit upset. "What about people like me" I said. I could tell I had put this Dr. in a precarious position. He didn't know how to answer. I kept asking many questions and after the seminar he came and talked to me. He shared with me some Dr.'s in the local area that were familiar with my stroke and the syndrome it can sometimes cause: Cerebellar Cognitive Affective Syndrome. Last meeting the coordinator came and spoke with me. She said that her and the other two coordinators were concerned that the hospital could do better and be educated about all strokes and their symptoms. The other 2 coordinators are nurses for the stroke. She told me that because I spoke out for myself and all other cerebellar stroke survivors that the hospital decided to change how they train their staff. These 2 nurses went to the stroke dept. and told them my story. They listened, rewrote the training literature and it was being distributed to all hospital staff the next day. OMG I made a difference. A whole hospital changed their protocol because of me! 🙂 My plan is to help expand this change to more and more hospitals. I feel like I have done something. Really done something! Thanks for listening! Love you guys!!

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Tracy! That is absolutely fantastic news!

 

You know and I know that God has a plan for us all...I’m loving how your journey has provided you with a way to help others!

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Wow!  Good for you!  Who knows how many lives you will affect, home many people will get appropriate treatment because of you.

 

Congratulations.

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Thank you guys. 🙂This certainly gives me motivation to expand these changes. I've already seen changes implemented at my local hospital so beyond that is icing on the cake and can hopefully save some lives. I feel super good about that!

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Well done Tracy and keep at it! we can make a difference

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I hope you're giving yourself a big pat on the back for a job well done!!!    Becky

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Tracy that is awesome.  As a survivor of a cerebellar stroke too I know exactly what you mean.  The nurses kept telling me FAST.  I kept telling them.  Look no face drooping, no paralysis, no speech issue.  I woke up in the morning after the stroke.  Happened during my sleep so I thought I had a really bad case of the flu.  super dizzy and vomiting.  Couldn't walk, etc.  Didn't get to hospital for 2 days until I was dehydrating.  

 

I hope you changes get wider coverage so others may get the help they need sooner.

 

John

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Tracy, I agree that the F.A.S.T acronym is not entirely correct. In my case I just had stupid fingers with no other symptoms. But I was in tune enough to my body to know something wasnt right.

 

Congrats! I hope your diligence is able to save lives!

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