My Eight-Year-Old Daughter Saved My Life: Stroke Awareness
By Kimberly Davis Basso
(Author of I’m a Little Brain Dead)
I was forty-four years old, home alone with my young children, and I had a stroke. If that doesn’t give you pause, let me share this, I had no risk factors. None. Nothing in my health at the time, my family history, or even my genetics indicated any risk at
So here’s the truth of it – if you have a brain it can break. Which is why I’m happy to share a bit about my story to help spread awareness. I’ve written a book about my absurd experience called I’m a Little Brain Dead, but today I want to share info from “Very Serious Appendix A” and “Very Serious Appendix B” because I assume you like your brain and want to be able to help it if it needs you. I sincerely hope you never, ever use this information – think of it like a fire drill, you prepare and then hope it’s all a waste of time and never gets put into action. Same thing here.
First, let me say that time is critical. I received life-changing care because I was in an ambulance within minutes of my symptoms appearing. My stroke treatments were time-sensitive – meaning the clock was literally running on the window of opportunity for care. Get yourself into professional hands at the slightest suspicion of a stroke… still here? OK, we’ll move on.
Since you aren’t currently having a stroke, it’s a good idea to learn possible symptoms. The National Stroke Association has put together an easy to remember acronym – B.E. F.A.S.T. with each letter a different possible symptom.
B- Balance, E – EyeSight, F – Face, A-Arm, S- Speech, and T – Time to Call.
Here’s a great graphic from www.NationalStrokeAssociation.org which also has up to date info.
For stroke or any emergency, let me ask you – do your children know how to call 9-1-1? Have you ever practiced (without dialing of course)? My daughter saved my life because she role-played how to call 9-1-1 with her Girl Scout troop. She had this practice one month before my stroke. So she was able to stay calm, cool and collected and help me when I needed her. Not her job, but she got it done.
So how do you practice? There are links (below) to videos on my website for you to look at, but consider these basics:
- Does your child know how to use your cell phone (most of us don’t have landlines)?
- Role-play 9-1-1 calls with your kids – the adult is the dispatcher, the child makes the call. The “dispatcher” asks them questions – what happened?
Where do you live? And most importantly, don’t hang up the phone. Use a generic situation like Suzy fell out of the tree, so there’s no potential fear for your child (I do not recommend using ‘just in case mommy’s brain stops working’ as an example).
- Is your medical information available in case you are unconscious? There’s a free form on my site you can download, which is a one-page family medical form. Keep it on the fridge (emergency personnel check there for elderly patients) and make sure your kids know where it is. We keep ours on the inside of the hall closet, down low where my son can reach it, simply because I don’t like having my medical history displayed. Which is odd given I wrote a book about it!
- Is your child old enough to do this? My daughter was in second grade, around 7 or 8 years old. Her younger brother has heard this information from a much earlier age of course, because we review it with his sister. But consider how old your child is and if it’s not time, put it in your future plans.
We review this information with our kids twice a year; usually, we talk about our family fire drill and earthquake drill (we’re in California) at the same time. Here’s a link to a video where I discuss the family medical form and how we use it in our
(this link will take you to the form as well as the videos on practicing).
Have a clot free day.
Kimberly Davis Basso is an author, playwright and stroke survivor. Her debut nonfiction book, I’m a Little Brain Dead, has been honored numerous times, including a nomination for INDIES Book of the Year for Humor by Foreword Reviews and a Life Stories Honorable Mention from Writer’s Digest.
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