Stroke survivor shares her story during National Stroke Awareness Month

WILLIAMSTON, NC (WITN) May is National Stroke Awareness Month and one stroke survivor from the east is sharing her story to shed light on how common a stroke can be, and how it's important to take action fast.

The Centers for Disease Control says a person in the U.S. suffers a stroke every 40 seconds.

Theresa Meetze, 58-years-old from Williamston, and a nurse of 40-years, is a stroke survivor.

Meetze says, "I spilt something on the floor and I bent down to wipe it up but then I was like, I thought I had bent down too fast and got kinda giddy from bending over but then I couldn't shake it off and just sat down at the table and I looked at him and he looked at me"

Her husband Jacob says, "It was something I will never forget. It was just like a blank stare. It was awful."

A clot was blocking the blood vessels in the left part of Theresa's brain.

Doctors at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville say quick action prevented irreversible damage.

Neurosurgeon Dr. Richard Dalyai says, "Time is brain, in the sense that you lose, of that stunned neuron, you lose two-million neurons a minute so every minute that goes by is two-million neurons that we might not be able to rescue."

North Carolinians are four times more likely to die of a stroke than people in any other state, but experts say they are not exactly sure why.

Dr. Dalyai says, "You know we live in an area where stroke is almost of epidemic proportions. It's a prevalent disease everywhere in America, it is even more prevalent here in North Carolina, specifically eastern North Carolina."

Theresa was lucky. She and her husband knew the signs and dialed 911 fast.

She says, "I think it was all in the time of getting treatment in a timely manner saved me from not having more damage than there was."

FAST is the acronym for stroke symptoms. F is for facial drooping. A is for arm weakness. S for speech difficulty, and T is for time to call 911.

Doctors at Vidant Health treat about 2,400 stroke patients a year and they want to emphasize that strokes can happen to anyone, which is why it is so important to know the signs and get help.