Bill Ramsey was 28 when he suffered his first stroke, but didn't realize it until he had a second one nearly 5 years later while on vacation.
Even then, after blacking out and waking up unable to see for several hours, it simply didn't occur to him that someone his age might have suffered a stroke.
So he waited 2 days before returning home and going to see his family physician - a decision that could have cost him his life.
"I've lost some peripheral vision as well as feeling on the left side of my body and face," said Ramsey. "If I'd gone in within 2 hours, most of the affects from the stroke could have been reversed."
While fortunate to have suffered what he calls "acceptable losses," the now 38-year-old Ramsey says that had he known what was happening, "I would have come in immediately."
He can't change the past. But he can share his story to help others be more aware of the signs and symptoms of a stroke and the importance of getting to the hospital without delay and is partnering with Via Christi to do so.
"I just want to help people know that you don't have to be old, out of shape or have a sedentary lifestyle to have a stroke," Ramsey said. "You could be someone like me, who, like 20 percent of the population, had a hole in the heart called PFO that was supposed to have closed after birth, but didn't."
Ramsey, whose company, The Bill Guy Technology Solutions, sponsored the Wichita Wagonmasters Chili Cookoff, shared two recipes at the Sept. 24, 2011, event: one for a great bowl of chili and the other for how to survive a stroke.
"We passed out Via Christi Stroke Center magnets listing the signs and symptoms of a stroke to everyone who came by our booth," said Ramsey.
It was his way of expressing his gratitude for each day with his wife, Marilyn, and their children and grandson.
"I still have things I deal with," said Ramsey. "But not nearly as much as I did."
Via Christi offers:
- Regions' only dedicated NeuroCritical Care Unit staffed by advance stroke trained nurses
- Acute Stroke Response Teams that assemble in the Emergency Department within minutes to quickly evaluate patients for use of clot-busting medications
- Advanced diagnostics
- Advanced neurosurgery
- The area's premier inpatient rehab facility, Via Christi Rehabilitation Hospital
Do you know the signs of stroke?
Face - Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
Arms - Ask the person to hold both arms up evenly. Does one arm drift downward?
Speech - Ask the person to repeat a single sentence. Are his/her words slurred or mixed up?
Time - If the person shows any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately!
For more information, visit
www.stroke.org or www.strokeassociation.org