A friend of mine (let's call her Jan and say she's an accountant, shall we?) told me on the phone that one of her coworkers had developed some worrying symptoms while at work. She'd suddenly been unable to remember anything beyond showering that morning, her speech became slow and her thought processes confused, and she began to drag one foot.
Jan told me that they sent the woman home with her husband. I told Jan--trying my best not to be judgmental, because Jan is in no way associated with the medical profession--that she should've called 911, that those were the symptoms of a stroke.
Jan replied, "We tried to convince her, but she wouldn't let us call the ambulance."
And here's the PSA part of this post:
The next time somebody you work or live with exhibits symptoms like speech difficulty, memory loss, numbness or tingling on one side of the body, gait disturbances, or simply something that seems "off"--like a really bad headache--call 911.
It doesn't matter if they want you to or not. This is a "Fuck you, I'm calling 911" moment.
See, with strokes, there's a really, really limited amount of time during which treatment can do any good. With ischemic (clot) strokes, it's in the neighborhood of three hours. With hemorrhagic (bleeding) strokes, it's even less--time is of the essence in either case.
And, quite frankly, the person with the symptoms does not get to make the decision on what's appropriate. They're the ones having the symptoms, right? Uh...yeah. And their brain is already not right.
It's really hard not to make somebody like Jan feel defensive when you say, "Listen: next time, just call 911, okay?" It's also really hard to make the decision to call when the person you're calling about is quite upset that you would do such a thing. And, of course, there's a whole 'nother level of bumblefuck that ensues if the person with the symptoms gets it together enough to refuse ambulance transport.
The point here is that you only have one brain. What you do with it is your business, of course, but if you notice something off-key with your own or another person's brain, it's the responsible thing to do to notify people who have good drugs and machines that go beep. If it's a false alarm, dandy. But if it's not, and you send that person home to sleep....
Well. Jan's coworker is fine. What she had was either (probably, since I'm no diagnostician) a TIA or an atypical migraine. Jan and her other coworkers are still encouraging her to see a doctor next week.
The coworker got lucky.
Next time, call 911. Please.