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During stroke awareness month one woman shares how knowing the symptoms helped save her life

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Posted at 6:34 PM, May 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-31 19:22:16-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — When 56-year-old Melissa Kemp was having a stroke, she quickly recognized the signs. It began as a stomachache, then she lost control of her arm.

"My hand was numb. I couldn't move my hand; you know I was looking at my hand and consciously trying to make my hand move -- and it wouldn't move. So, I called my husband and I realized I couldn't talk,” says Kemp.

She doesn't have a family history of strokes. As a dental hygienist, she's taken various medical training, but she never thought she'd have to know these signs for herself. She was eventually brought to CHI Saint Joseph, where she found out she needed surgery.

"Surgery to clean out the blockage in my carotid artery which was the cause of the stroke,” shared Kemp.

Medical experts say it is important to remember that strokes can happen to anyone, at any age.

CHI Saint Joseph Neurologist, Dr. Scott Bridges, says "If a person experiences any symptoms that warrant or cause any dysfunction of part of your body, you should be concerned about a stroke."

If you or someone around you may be having a stroke, "BE FAST". Look for changes in Balance, Eyes, Face, Arms, Speech, and most importantly act Timely.

There are different kinds of strokes - Ischemic strokes are the most common.

"When a person is experiencing a stroke, that part of the brain is being deprived of oxygen and is slowly dying," explained Dr. Bridges.

For months Kemp has been re-learning to speak and function. She remembered a numbness in her arm a week before her stroke that she didn't think too much of. Now, she warns people not to take any medical symptoms for granted.

"It is important for you to be an advocate for your own health and to pay attention to your body," said Kemp.

Kemp says the biggest difference in herself pre and post-stroke, is her new outlook on life. Now she's learning to be more present.