FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Thursday marks World Stroke Day, a day where groups come together to raise awareness about the number five cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States, according to the American Stroke Association.
One survivor has spent more than half a year recovering from a stroke. It was a year ago when Roger Schwertfager first fell down.
“I got up, went to the bathroom and fell down again and went back to bed. I just thought I was too sleepy, you know,” he explained.
But the next day when he went to run errands, he kept drifting to the right in his car.
“I didn’t know I had a stroke. I thought I was pulling to the right and thought there was something wrong with my [heart device.]”
Schwertfager first started having issues with his heart years ago. He has an LVAD, or left ventricular assist device, that helps his heart.
Thinking it was his LVAD, Schwertfager drove to his son’s house. But when he arrived, there was a problem.
“When I took my [sun] glasses off, the whole side of my face was black and blue,” he said. “I couldn’t talk.”
Schwertfager was taken to the emergency room. He ended up spending three weeks in the hospital and more than a month in rehab. He continues to go to physical therapy, takes medication, and goes to see his cardiologist once a month.
He worked in marketing for years and said when he first couldn’t talk it was difficult.
“I used to talk all the time and give speeches, go overseas. Because of my stroke, I’m slower and that’s very frustrating.”
Schwertfager’s made a lot of progress. He’s now able to walk and talk. The only issue he said he’ll have the rest of his life is some numbness in his fingers on his right hand.
But Schwertfager is one of the lucky ones. Stroke kills nearly 129,000 people a year and The American Stroke Association estimates 795,000 Americans each year suffers from a new or recurring stroke. If it appears someone is having a stroke, call medics immediately, and remember the acronym F-A-S-T, face drooping- arm weakness, speech difficulty, time to call. For more information on strokes, click here.