Roy Exum: F.A.S.T. And The Golden Hour

Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

My dear friend Mervin Reed is one of the greatest characters our city has ever known. Without going into the hysterical details of it, he holds the singular distinction of being the only boy in the history of Lookout Junior High who was ever old enough to drive his own car to school. To hear him tell of it is one of the greatest one-man comedy routines of all time.

But Mervin made us cry down at our watering hole earlier this year when something very bad went wrong. Nobody quite knew what to do and for a long time he wouldn’t come around. He wouldn’t answer his phone and then we learned why; our fabled master of mirth had suffered a stroke. It is because of Mervin that I pause on this – World Stroke Day – to tell you that every 40 seconds in America one of us will suffer the same affliction.

The first thing you need to know is what the acronym F.A.S.T. means because those four letters, all early warning signs, can save your life. “F” is your face. If you see it drooping, one side of your smile unable to move, get to the emergency room fast. The “A” is your arms; if either becomes weak or tingly, get to the emergency room fast. The “S” is speech difficulty and if you are slurring your words or unable to complete a simple sentence, get to the emergency room fast. “T” stands for “time,” as in dialing 9-1-1 and telling the operator you are having a stroke and need an ambulance.

The dumbest mistake many of us make is we drive ourselves to the emergency room, or wait for a friend to come and take us, but stroke experts now believe “The Golden Hour” following a stroke is the very first hour. The faster ER doctors can get an amazing drug called “tPA” into your system, the less brain cells will be damaged and chances of a better recovery are tremendously increased.

Chattanooga is blessed with Dr. Tom Devlin’s program at Erlanger Hospital. Remember when President Bush came to Chattanooga just to see it? The Stroke Center at Erlanger is one of the best in the country but is helpless until you get in the door. The last thing a stroke victim wants to do is “save money” by shunning an ambulance ride with well-trained EMTs, radio contact with emergency-room personnel and an overwhelming safety factor. Yelling at Bernice to run a red light in the family Toyota is bad for everybody.

The biggest reason a stroke kills somebody in America every four minutes is because we are a stubborn people, thinking up excuses rather than solutions. We say we “slept funny” or must have gotten tired driving home. We dismiss obvious symptoms when all it takes is a look in the mirror to see facial paralysis or that tell-tale floppy smile. Time is critical and I’ll give you my word no doctor or nurse will ever laugh at our misdiagnosis – they have seen what strokes can do.

The biggest reason we have strokes is high blood pressure, which is more easily treated today than ever in our history. Every adult should know their blood pressure and monitor it. If you hate doctors go to one of the pharmacies that offer free screenings and check it as often as you can. If you need hypertension medicine find a doctor you like rather than croak because you simply dislike Dr. Rude. That’s stinkin’ thinkin’!

Diabetes, cholesterol and other factors can also make your blood pressure rise and, if suddenly you get what are called TIAs, little mini-stroke deals that are “transient ischemic attacks,” don’t discount them because they may be tipping you off that something bigger could come along. One in six Americans will have a stroke in their lifetime. Deaths from strokes are our nation’s fourth-leading cause of death and rank No. 2 in the world.

I can’t help but believe if Mervin Reed had been rushed to the hospital and administered tPA drugs, he might not be going to Siskin for speech rehab right now. But, don’t worry, he’s now cracking jokes and his marvelous humor is back.

He told me the other day that not long ago he when to a fast-food drive-in window and said his halting, stuttering speech kicked in just as he placed his order. When he finally finished the attendant asked if he’d repeat his order. “What for, honey? I’ve just told you three times!” he blurted just perfectly.

If you even think you may be having a stroke –  F.A.S.T.

royexum@aol.com


Why Is Congress So Bad?

As of April 11th, according to Gallup polling, Congressional approval stood at twenty percent.  Let's think about that. Eighty percent of Americans disapproved of the way the United States Congress operates! Then, at the next election, we send the same people back expecting a different outcome.  Why?   We seem to vote for folks who say they want to work ... (click for more)

Fake Science Of Man-Made Beliefs - And Response

In Chattanooga last Saturday approximately 1,000 people joined a faith-based group calling itself "March for Science - Chattanooga" who demanded that you and me pay for their special beliefs in fake science.  Their sincere, deeply held beliefs are found on their Facebook page.  And, they are not alone.  Thousands of other people of similar faith marched in various ... (click for more)

Erlanger Has Surge In Revenue; Admissions Up Over 12%

Erlanger Health System reported substantial growth in revenue and effective cost management for the third quarter. Net income from operations of $8.5 million exceeded prior year by $7 million and also exceeded budget by $1.3 million.    The health system had an 8.8 percent increase in total net revenue. Officials said the quarter generated strong EBITDA (e arnings ... (click for more)

Former County Jailer Pleads "No Contest" In Cancer Faking Case

A former Hamilton County corrections officer pleaded no contest on Monday to charges that he got time off from work and donations from co-workers after he faked having cancer. Dale Daniel was granted diversion through an agreement with the district attorney's office. The charges will go off his record if he does not get into any further trouble for a year. Daniel will have ... (click for more)

Defense, Pitching Sparkle In Owls' 4-0 Win Vs. Mustangs

Strong defense meant more for Ooltewah than any other aspect of Monday’s key District 5-3A prep baseball game against Walker Valley at A.C. “Bud” Ball Field. ** Owls center fielder Jake Sullivan made an ESPN-worthy diving catch in left-center that probably saved two runs in the first inning. ** Pitcher Daniel Willie picked off a Mustangs runner at first base in the ... (click for more)

PHOTOS: Ooltewah Shuts Out Walker Valley, 4-0