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Woman Records Her Own Stroke To Help Doctors Make Diagnosis

A 49-year-old Toronto-area woman was recently turned away by physicians after complaining of stroke-like symptoms, telling her she was just stressed-out. But when it happened again, she took a selfie video to offer definitive proof.

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Back in April, Stacey Yepe's face froze and she had trouble speaking. Fearing a stroke, she went to a local emergency room, but the tests were clear and she was offered tips on how to manage stress. But two days later, while driving in her car, the left side of her body went numb. So she pulled over, grabbed her smartphone, and pressed the record button.

The CBC reports:

"The sensation is happening again," the Thornhill, Ont., woman says at the beginning of the video posted on YouTube by Toronto's University Health Network. "It's all tingling on left side," as she points to her lower lip, trying to smile.

Yepes remembers that doctors said to breathe in and out and to try to manage stress, and she says she's trying.

"I don't know why this is happening to me."

About a minute later, she shows that it's hard to lift up her hand.

"I think it was just to show somebody, because I knew it was not stress-related," she said in an interview. "And I thought if I could show somebody what was happening, they would have a better understanding."

After going to Mount Sinai Hospital in downtown Toronto, Yepes was referred to Toronto Western Hospital's stroke centre.

"In all my years treating stroke patients, we've never seen anyone tape themselves before," said Dr. Cheryl Jaigobin, the stroke neurologist at the hospital's Krembil Neuroscience Centre. "Her symptoms were compelling, and the fact she stopped and found a way to portray them in such a visual fashion, we were all touched by it."

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The video finally convinced the doctors that she was having a transient ischemic attack (TIA), also called a mini-stroke. What's more, physicians are now using the video as a tool to help them better recognize mini-strokes when they're happening.

This reminds me a bit of neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor's remarkable TED talk from 2008. In it, she describes how one morning she realized she was having a massive stroke — and how she could feel her brain functions slipping away one by one, including speech, movement, and understanding.

[Via CBC]

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DISCUSSION

I was sitting in the kitchen with my Grandfather and Grandmother, and a couple of other people. We where happily talking about nothing. Someone asked my Grandfather a question, and he didn't answer. He'd been chatting away just 30 seconds before. I asked if he was okay? He didn't answer. I asked if he could breathe? (He has COPD) He didn't answer again. Then he stood up out of his chair, stared like a zombie, sat back down, and started to drool.

He'd just had a massive stroke right in front of us. It was one of the most terrifying things I've ever experienced.

And before you ask, yes we got him to the hospital quickly and he got the tPA in time. His recovery took over a year, but he eventually recovered completely except for a speech impediment. He was 80, and lived five more years before dying of lung cancer.