Seventeen-year old high school senior Dylan Meyer never thought a doctor’s lecture about the warning signs of a stroke would ultimately save his life – but it did.
“I woke up at 5 a.m. on Nov. 20 last year and got ready to head to school,” Meyer said. “A friend and I were going to run in the morning before our off-season track practice, and I didn’t want to let him down.”
Prior to his friend arriving, Meyer started jogging and stretching to prepare his body for the workout. The friend never showed up, so he decided to go on the run himself. He finished one mile and decided to jog the remaining two. He felt exhausted, but pushed through.
“Once I completed the three miles I began to feel my leg go limp and even drag. I was confused,” Meyer said. “I didn’t feel any pain so I kept moving.”
Shortly after, Meyer realized he couldn’t move his left arm. He was, however, able to grab his phone and turn the camera towards his face. He noticed it was drooping and he couldn’t smile. He knew he was showing signs of a stroke. He signaled to his Cross Country coach who called an ambulance that transported him to the hospital where he spent the next three days.
A Special School Lesson
Meyer learned about the signs of stroke last fall after Dr. Faraz Javed, who oversees the stroke and pain programs at Memorial Hermann Pearland Hospital, paid a visit to Meyer’s high school to educate students.
“With the students, we discussed in-depth information on the types of strokes, risk factors for strokes and most importantly the signs and symptoms,” Javed said. “These presentations are important because we all play a role in recognizing whether or not a friend or a loved one is experiencing a stroke.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death and a major cause of disability in the United States. The National Stroke association estimates nearly 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke each year. Memorial Hermann Health System is the first network of accredited Stroke Centers in the region.
“It’s important for all of us to recognize that strokes are on the rise among young adults and adolescents,” Javed said. “Data has shown that in the past decade there has been a 44 percent increase in the number of young Americans hospitalized due to stroke.”
What Meyer took away from listening to Dr. Javed might have saved his life.
“I remembered the signs of stroke can be hard to identify at first, but the easiest one to tell is the face dropping to one side and not being able to smile,” Meyer said. “You’re not supposed to give the individual water and you need to get them to a hospital as soon as possible because early treatment is important.”
It Can Happen to Anyone
Luckily, within 90 minutes of being in the hospital, Meyer had gained full speech and mobility and was able to walk around the room as if nothing had happened. His mother, Diane Meyer, was stunned when she received the call from his coach that her 17-year old son was being evaluated for a stroke.
“He shared what he remembered with his father and myself and that he was aware of what was happening,” Diane Meyer said. “We are just grateful that Dylan was able to communicate that he needed medical attention.”
Since experiencing a stroke, Meyer has gained a new appreciation for life and feels God is truly gracious. He wants everyone to take their health seriously, especially young people.
“Anything is possible, even a stroke. I think it’s best to look at your own personal health now and create some good sleeping, eating, exercise, and social habits to eliminate certain amounts of stress,” Meyer said. “The body will tell you when to slow down and rest. Listen to it. Your parents will also tell you to slow down, too. Listen to them.”
Meyer plans to attend Sam Houston State University where he will study Exercise Science and Spanish.
To learn more about the signs and symptoms of a stroke visit http://neuro.memorialhermann.org/stroke/. For more information on in-person or virtual class options to educate students about the symptoms and signs of a stroke email firstname.lastname@example.org.