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Frightening mini stroke was signal to slow down

Life was beautiful!

On Thursday, Aug. 22, 1991, I went to my doctor for my regular six-month check-up, got a flu shot and was given a clean bill of health.

On Sunday morning, Aug. 25, I thought my world was coming to an end.

I had invited my children for Sunday lunch, and about 8:15 a.m. I went into the kitchen to start preparing my meal.

While cooking, I suddenly felt strange: Light-headed, out-of-balance and numb.

I called to my husband to come help me to a chair.

From this point on it got worse.

I later learned I was having a stroke.

I knew everything that was happening to me but couldn't communicate.

My husband called 911 and they responded immediately. I was in the hospital before 9:30 I am told. (Citrus County 911 should be commended for their quick response.)

The most terrifying part was all the hours in the emergency room. I understood everything that was being done and said to me, but each time I tried to respond I would hear nothing but a garbled mess. I couldn't talk. This was really pure terror for me because 10 years ago I saw my mother have a stroke and later die. All I could think of was "that's what's happening to me."

I have to say that Cindy, the emergency room nurse, was a wonderful help to me. She was with me every minute I was in ER. All those hours she never left my side, holding my hand and comforting me, telling me everything would be all right. I'm sure she could see the terror in my eyes. She was wonderful.

As it turned out, my stroke was only minor and after about eight hours, everything was almost completely normal. I was one of the lucky people. I felt this was a warning to me to slow down and take things easier.

My right hand was real weak with just a little grip and my right foot would kind of sling to the side once in a while when I walked. I knew I couldn't accept this. I'm an active person and had a job to return to.

After leaving the hospital, I started walking from one end of my house to the other, determined to strengthen the foot, and I would squeeze my little poodle Fidget's rubber ball to regain the strength in my hand. It paid off. The hand and foot are normal again.

It was a slow process because the stroke left me with entirely no energy, just a real tired, worn-out feeling, but time gradually allowed the return to my normal daily activities.

I was able to return to work in October, and can again wear my high-heeled shoes and have a right punch like a boxer.

The only difference is I now pace myself better and try to avoid stressful situations, and again "Life is beautiful."

Jean Owen, 56, has been an inside sales account executive in the St. Petersburg Times Classified Advertising Department in Inverness for almost seven years. She and her husband, Larry, live in Hernando.