B.E. F.A.S.T. to Beware

Herb’s Blog, Herbdate 23162 – 1142

Here’s the haps:

If you are blessed to be on hand when someone needs you to evaluate their symptoms you still have only a limited amount of time to act. Sometimes you are not fortunate enough to be around because life is going on but if you are in the presence of someone who has a sudden onset of these symptoms, don’t delay, call 911 (or whatever your country’s emergency number is) and/or get them to a hospital right away.

Our family has already seen the devastating effects of a stroke in my son’s wife a couple of years ago and once is way more than enough. Once is too much. She was found unconscious at home so there was no preventing anything.


If you’re around and someone becomes suddenly weak and unable to maintain enough balance to walk across the room, then starts slurring their words and can only give you a crooked half-smile and their face feels numb and there is no strength in one side of their body, don’t waste time, call. Even if the symptoms don’t all exactly match up, just go ahead and err on the side of caution. The sooner you can get them medical attention, the better because they can stop and even reverse the effects of a stroke if it’s caught soon enough. This is what happened to Mrs. Herb.

We tried to assess it ourselves, T.N.T., Ashley, and I, and we weren’t sure and Ashley called 911. When the First Responders came they were only really sure that she should probably go to the emergency room. They weren’t convinced it was a stroke but wouldn’t rule it out, either. We put her in the car and I took off. When I arrived I asked the man at the desk in the E.R. for assistance getting her out of the car and into a wheelchair as she was too weak to try it on her own. “Whoa! I wasn’t expecting this!” He didn’t seem confident about what he was seeing and called for “another pair of eyes” to help him. Another triage nurse came over and he determined they needed to get her back to CT, stat!

Meanwhile, my car is running just outside the door and I need to go park it so I can keep up with the haps, which are going at a brisk pace. As I start to leave to go do that the woman at the desk says, “Excuse me sir, but do you have her photo ID with you?” Now, I have been frequently accused of being unnecessarily gruff and giving people mean and mad looks. Much of the time it’s simply not true. But apparently, I sound gruff and look mean even when I’m trying to be nice. I think part of it is that I am trying to focus on hearing what a person is saying and so I look aggravated when I’m merely trying to process what they are saying. This was not one of those times.

“WHAT‽‽‽ NO, I DON’T HAVE HER…” I started to shout, then stopped. I took a deep, slow breath. This is the kind of behavior I despise and it’s the kind of behavior that can get you kicked out on your ear. I looked down at my shoes. I looked up to Heaven, which is where I had been looking (figuratively) since this adventure began, and let my breath out. I lowered my voice significantly and patiently answered the questions she needed to ask me and went and parked the car.

I came back in and was met by a very big, very friendly, very kind and soft-spoken brick house of a security guard who gave me a visitor badge and showed me where her room was. Nobody gets a room in the E.R. that quickly. Ever. It was empty. “They took her right back to do a CT scan right away. Someone will be along in a little bit to help you.” This is scary. Nobody gets taken care of this quickly. And there I was, alone with my thoughts and I was not being very good company. Thankfully, TNT had the presence of mind to contact our church secretary, Superwoman, who alerted the ministerial staff and started prayer.

Time is one of the inexplicable mysteries of the universe. There are instances when fifteen minutes goes by in the seeming snap of your fingers but then there are times when fifteen minutes may as well be fifteen weeks. Finally, a nurse bustled in. “Hi, Mr. Thiel. I’m (she said her name but I don’t remember it) a neurological nurse. Our neurosurgeon is certain, and I am too, that your wife is having a stroke. the somewhat good news is that the CT scan does not show a brain bleed. This means that, because you got her in here so quickly, we can administer a clot-busting drug which will very likely reverse the stroke process. She will have to stay in the ICU for 24 – 48 hours so we can monitor her closely. Does that sound like something you would want to try?” “Well, um, yeah, sure, I mean…” At this point, another nurse wheeled in a computer screen with the neurosurgeon on it who said pretty much the same thing and asked again what I thought. “I think you guys have way more knowledge and experience than I do and if you think it’s a good idea then I do too.” “The only drawback,” said Compu-Doc, “Is if it’s successful there may not be any evidence of a stroke on the MRI. You don’t really need that because we have already clinically diagnosed her and determined it is a stroke, but we don’t want you to have any surprises, either.”

After what felt like another fifteen weeks they wheeled her into the room. Before they found a room for her in the ICU one of our elder ministers arrived and laid hands on her and prayed for her in Jesus’ name the way the Bible says. They administered the clot-buster and her symptoms improved steadily until they were ready to release her the next day. We are thanking God for his goodness and mercy, and for hearing the prayers of his people. We are also grateful to the medical team for their quick responses and diligence.


  1. I am thanking God with you Herb and it is a blessing to me to see that God once again did what He says He will do and that your faith leapt into action at the exact moment it was needed the most…. I am praising Jesus with you right now.

  2. Excellent poster about stroke and good advice about doing something even if you aren’t really sure of anything except that something is wrong. (I just had to make a similar call about husband’s abdominal pain – he ended up needing emergency surgery.)

  3. This is one of those stories everyone needs to hear! How wonderful that you got medical help quickly and that Mrs Herb is recovering. The Lord, an attentive family and a good medical team is an unbeatable combination.

    • He hasn’t quit blogging, but he is living life and has his priorities set appropriately. Unfortunately for us, his fans, the Internet is not a major priority at the moment.

  4. You must so relieved that it was over and your daughter-in-law was back home. I heard that a high blood pressure can potentially cause a mini stroke like that. I have a friend who woke up one day and half of his face collapsed. He didn’t have high blood pressure but he had very bad life style and drank and ate to excess. It is so frightening.

    • Yes, there are a number of causes, actually. The important thing is that if you suspect someone is having a stroke, getting them to the hospital and having them use this “clotbuster” medicine is extremely vital.

  5. Oh wow, what an ordeal. I’m so glad she got treatment quickly and all ended up well. Stroke is so scary. We had an incidence at our house a month or so ago when my hubs ended up with a full stroke workup following an episode of frightening cognitive dysfunction. It turned out to be a new onset of weird migraine symptoms that mimic stroke, which was, of course, an enormous relief.

    • Oof! But it’s always better to err on the side of caution. I’m glad your husband didn’t have a stroke but migraines are their own kind of headache…er…you know what I mean.

  6. Herb so sorry I am didn’t comment on this sooner but I am just now reading this post. What a scary thing to go through but glad you had the church and of course our wonderful Lord with you. I will keep you and Mrs Herb in my prayers.

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