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FAST. Signs of a stroke

Utah Caring Stories

According to the American Heart Association, someone in the U.S. has a stroke every 4 minutes. Stroke risk increases with age, but strokes can—and do—occur at any age.

Life can be like a rollercoaster.

Strokes happen when the blood supply to your brain is interrupted or reduced. Timothy Gamble was only 26 years old when his life took and unexpected turn.

Timothy told me; “The surgeon tried 5 times to remove the blood clot. Everything he tried, stents, pulling it out. The blood clot was reforming in the artery every time. He basically said I can’t push it any further or it will kill him.”

A portion of Timothy’s skull was removed to allow the brain to swell outside of the skull to relieve pressure. He said; “It worked, and I was able to live. I was not expected to survive. They said if I lived I would never get out of bed again. I would be a vegetable.”

Rollercoasters can be slow.

Timothy looked over to his therapist, Spencer Thompson with a smile and told me; “My therapist with me today, Spencer, he took me from not being able to walk at all to walking independently.”

Thompson is a physical therapist with University of Utah Health didn’t sugar coat Timothy’s journey. “It took a lot of time. A lot of blood sweat and tears to get him where he is. But Tim really pushed himself. He came in about 4 to 5 days a week. “

The stroke has certainly had effects. But with a lot of physical therapy and a great attitude, he has come a long way. I asked Timothy how the stroke has impacted

his life. “I make a conscious decision every day to not let this get me down. And it has to be every day. I wake up and it’s a struggle to get out of bed and walk down to the shower because I can’t hardly walk without my brace on.”

One of my favorite questions to ask for Utah Caring Stories is “what gives you hope.” Timothy didn’t hesitate as he answered with a grin; “My biggest hope and motivation is my son. He was only 3 years old when I had my stroke 6 years ago. His favorite place to go all summer long is to go to Lagoon and ride all the roller coasters. He said, Dad put your hands in the air. And he’s got his hands in the air the whole time. And I’m holding on for life.”

Rollercoasters can go FAST. The American Heart Association wants people to remember that FAST is an acronym for the signs of stroke. F = Facial Drooping. A = Arm Weakness S = Speech Difficulty and T = Time to Call 911.

When I asked Timothy, “what do you want people to know about strokes?” he boldly said; “This doesn’t define me. This is not going to rule me. I tell myself it is a good day. You are going to do something great today Tim. “

These stories deserve to be told. These are Utah Caring Stories. I’m Doug Jessop, ABC4 News.

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