JOHNSON, Vt. - Polly Perez had no idea what was happening but she knew it wasn't good. She was running on her treadmill at her home in Johnson when her body started sending out stress signals.
“I always listen to the TV while I’m on the treadmill and in fact I couldn't hear it very well,” Perez said.
“So I turned the sound up and it didn't make any difference and then at that point I started saying ‘something else is happening’.”
Perez didn’t know it at the time but she was having a stroke.
“I thought well if I fall through the doorway I can crawl to find somebody and that's actually what happened,” Perez said
Her husband found her and called 911. He could only sense that something was wrong because there was no way Perez could tell him that.
“I started yelling ‘Help Help Help!’ although you couldn't understand what I said at that point,” Perez said.
It was a devastating turn of events for the former nurse. Perez had traveled the country giving lectures at medical conferences. Needless to say her ability to speak was of utmost importance.
According to the American Heart Association stroke is the leading preventable cause of disability in the United States and is the fourth preventable cause of death.
But because Perez was able to get medical treatment immediately her chances of beating those odds dramatically improved.
Through hard work and rehabilitation Perez regained the ability to speak and use her limbs. Fast forward fifteen years and you can hardly see the signs of the tragic event.
“I want people to know to not give up. Because it's like if ‘I can't do it this way then I guess I just won't do anything at all.’ No, no, no, no, no!” Perez said.
Many cases of stroke do lead to lifelong damages. A stroke occurs when the blood is cut off through the brain by a clot.
“If there's a long enough period of time that it doesn't get blood flow it becomes permanently damaged and then that stays with the person,” Dr. Mark Gorman, Director of Fletcher Allen’s Stroke Program, said.
Gorman and other stroke experts are stressing the signs of stroke so that people can call for help if someone is experience one.
And there’s an acronym to remember it.
F – Face Drooping
A – Arm Weakness
S – Speech Difficulty
T – Time to call 911
Saturday May 3rd experts on stroke symptoms will be holding the Hit a Heart-Healthy Homerun Stroke Awareness Event.
The event is from 11-2 at the top of Church Street. Champ the mascot will be there and former Red Sox pitcher Bill “Spaceman” Lee.