What appeared to be just an odd temporary sensation for Bay City resident Ed Ketzel, turned out to be a warning sign sent to him from his own body.
By Max Kirkendall
At 65-years-old, Ketzel still lives an active lifestyle of walking his dog two to five miles each day and lifting weights each morning. But on what seemed to be a normal day, Ketzel fell victim to a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA), often referred to as a ‘mini stroke.’
“I had just finished eating when all the sudden I felt like I was listing off to the left,” Ketzel said. “I walked into the bathroom and looked into the mirror because I thought I was having a stroke but there was no sagging or anything noticeable, it was just like the strength was gone in my left arm.”
Fearing the worst, Ketzel decided to head to the hospital to find out what was going on. But while he put on his shoes and prepared to head out the door, he said the sensation suddenly vanished.
“I put my shoes on and it was gone, just like that, it was over with,” Ketzel said. “I shook my head and asked myself, what is going on here?”
After visiting with the doctor, Ketzel learned that he had a TIA, which is a temporary blockage of blood flow to the brain. Doctors often refer to TIA’s, as “warning strokes” because they can indicate the likelihood of a coming stroke.
“The doctor told me next time it happens, it might last twice as long or three times as long and then go away or next time I might have a full-blown stroke,” Ketzel said.
A TIA can happen to anyone according to the American Heart and Stroke Association, and they are fairly common for adults in the United States. In fact, a third of U.S. adults have had symptoms consistent with a TIA. The symptoms are similar to an ischemic stroke, but TIA symptoms usually last less than five minutes with an average of about a minute. When a TIA is over, that particular blockage usually causes no permanent injury to the brain.
Because a TIA only lasts for a few minutes, many people will ignore it and go about their normal routine without getting checked out. This episode has made Ketzel more conscious of his own body and said he has been trying to remember of any other signs that he might have ignored.
“I’ve been wondering if this is the only warning I’ve had and I honestly don’t know,” Ketzel said. “I may have just snubbed something off like it was no big deal before.”
The American Heart and Stroke Association advises anyone who may have signs of a TIA or stroke to call 911 because warning strokes can signal a problem that may lead to disability, further strokes or even death. Now with more knowledge of his situation, Ketzel said he wants to help spread the word about TIA so that others can recognize the signs of what could ultimately lead to a stroke.
“I don’t know if this is going to return and that’s where I’m at now,” Ketzel said. “I have nothing to be ashamed of, I don’t care who knows, but if one person can recognize what is going on, it might just save their life.”
Currently, Ketzel is waiting the results of a computerized tomography (CT) scan and is on a low dose aspirin and feeling better than he has in weeks. Although many people might be fearful for the worst after an event like that, Ketzel said he is not.
“That’s the wrong attitude to have,” Ketzel said. “You don’t need to be afraid, you just need to be proactive with your health and that’s what I’m going to continue to do.”
For more information on TIA you can visit strokeassociation.org.