Larry Ray
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Teacher Learns Stroke Lesson

Driving home after a busy Friday teaching third graders in Detroit, Larry Ray felt unusually tired.

“I went to bed when I got home and stayed in bed pretty much the whole next day,” he recalls. On Sunday he ran a couple of errands, but still felt tired and “uncoordinated,” he says. A friend who is a nurse told him to go to Sinai-Grace Hospital right away.

In the Emergency Department, Ray, 68 at the time, learned he had experienced several small strokes. Ray was cared for in the hospital for three days and then completed outpatient physical, occupational and speech therapy.

Fortunately, Ray has recovered well and is “almost back to normal,” he says. This experience taught Ray an important lesson: “When I was in the hospital they told me I should have come in the minute symptoms started. If something like this happens again, I need to get to the hospital right away.”

That is because a stroke, often called a “brain attack,” is a medical emergency, just like a heart attack.

“Hospitals have medicine that can often reverse the stroke’s symptoms and open up the clogged artery that is causing the stroke,” explains Tessy Jenkins, M.D., chief of neurology at Sinai-Grace.  “But we must administer this medicine within three hours of the first stroke symptoms, so it is essential patients come to the hospital.”

Unfortunately, like Ray, many people don’t seek medical attention as fast as they should and then many times permanently lose brain function and physical mobility from the stroke. Dr. Jenkins recommends going to the closest hospital right away if you have any stroke symptoms Call 911, not your doctor’s office.

Stroke Symptoms 

Sinai-Grace Hospital has teamed with the American Stroke Association to raise awareness about stroke symptoms. This
campaign urges people to call 911 immediately if any of the 5 following symptoms occur suddenly:

  • WALK Is your balance off?
  • TALK Is your speech slurred or face droopy?
  • REACH Is one side weak or numb?
  • SEE Is your vision impaired? 
  • FEEL Is your headache severe?

This story first appeared in Sinai-Grace Hospital’s Healthy Living magazine. Click here to read more Health Living stories.