How To Save A Life: Recognizing a Stroke (F.A.S.T)

The generally accepted acronym to remember for recognizing a stroke is FAST:

F: Facial Drooping

Ask the person to smile. Is one side of the face unresponsive or droopy?

A: Arm Weakness

Ask the person to raise both arms. Does he/she have difficulty moving one arm, or does it drift down uncontrollably?

S: Speech Difficulty

Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence.

T: Time to call 9-1-1.

A further list of symptoms is available on the ASA‘s website:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the leg
  • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

It was harder than I expected to find information on how to help someone who is, or may be, having a stroke after calling 911. Most resources only emphasized calling 911, and gave no information on how else to respond while waiting for an ambulance to arrive. I personally like to know what to do in the interim. I was finally able to find some information on the website for the Cleveland Clinic.

Note the time that symptoms began.

If conscious, the person with stroke symptoms should lie down and should not be left alone. Try to comfort the person and help him/her to stay calm. If the person is having trouble breathing or swallowing he/she should be put into the recovery position.

If unconscious, check for vital signs (pulse and breathing). If the person is still breathing and has a pulse, place him/her into the recovery position. Stay with the person and frequently check the vital signs. If no vital signs, perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Do NOT give a person suffering signs of a stroke any water or food.

Now to end this post with a PSA from the American Stroke Association:


Week 9: Medical Emergencies

Week 9 was much busier than anticipated, and I left town for the weekend for a friends’ going away festivities, so I fell behind. Have to play catch up now. For this week I wanted to learn about the common warning signs for medical emergencies (stroke, heart attack, alcohol poisoning, etc.) and the appropriate responses one can take other than calling 911 (which should always be done first in any real medical emergency).

Since I am so behind this week (and I am not a medical professional with valid opinions or advice to give), I will primarily be posting the collection of resources that I use to learn more about these emergencies.

Let’s begin with something basic, and on the response side of medical emergencies that everyone should know: the recovery position.

The recovery position.

The recovery position.

The recovery position should follow the six following guidelines (as outlined by the International Liaison Committee of Resuscitation):

  1. The victim should be in as near a true lateral position as possible with the head dependent to allow free drainage of fluid
  2. The position should be stable
  3. Any pressure of the chest that impairs breathing should be avoided
  4. It should be possible to turn the victim onto the side and return to the back easily and safely, having particular regard to the possibility of cervical spine injury
  5. Good observation of and access to the airway should be possible
  6. The position itself should not give rise to any injury to the victim (List and image from Wikipedia: Recovery Position)

Resources For Bicycle Repair and Maintenance

I must have jinxed myself by saying that the weather was improving now with Spring – it has rained almost every day since my last post. But, that is not an excuse for how long it has taken me to update the week’s learning adventure.

I was never able to pick up my friend’s bike to work on (the weather was so bad that I didn’t want to risk transporting it on a scooter in the rain), but I was able to give my bike a thorough tune-up. The tune-up included truing the wheels, putting air in the tires, cleaning and oiling the chain, greasing the seat-post, and checking the gears and brakes. My avid cyclist friend came over and walked me through the steps for each. I will not bother typing them out at this point, because I am so far behind this week, but I will post the link to three of the sources he recommends for bike repair and maintenance information (he gave me a much longer list, but I narrowed it down to the sites that were the most straightforward and easy to navigate):

Park Tool Co. has a diagram of the bike that allows one to click on the area of the bike one needs to repair. Then the site provides a list of possible problems, and useful information for that part of the bike. Simple, user-friendly interface, and straight-forward directions with pictures; that’s enough for me to bookmark this site for future reference.

And for those who prefer video tutorials, there are two YouTube Channels that I would recommend: The first is the Expert Village YouTube Channel, this is generally a good channel to have saved. It has tutorials and lessons on just about everything, and provides an extensive list of bicycle repair and maintenance related videos. The other channel that I like is the Intown Bicycles YouTube Channel. It has fewer videos, but the videos are consistent and all done by people at the same shop, whereas the Expert Village videos are done by all different experts in the field of cycling, so there is less consistency.

The hardest thing for me was truing the wheels, it took a while to get a feel for it, and to have an eye for watching the rim. I do not have a truing stand, I turned my bicycle upside down and used the brake pads as a reference point. Below is the video tutorial for ‘Hot To True A Bicycle Wheel’ from the Expert Village YouTube channel. It provides a nice explanation for what to do, but based on my experience, if it’s your first time truing a tire, I would recommend either going in to a local bike shop to have someone give you a hands-on lesson, or call up a friend who has experience with bicycle maintenance to give you feedback as you practice.

Week 8: Bike Maintenance

Now that the weather is clearing up, it’s time to give my bicycle a tune-up and get it back in working order. I’d like to take a bicycle camping trip sometime this spring or summer, and I want to be prepared for any troubles that may arise. I know how to put air in a tire, and how to put a bike chain back on when it falls off, but that’s about it. So, I’m calling on two of my friends who do a lot of cycling (and the internet) to teach me how to tune-up a bike, and the most important skills to know for bike maintenance.

I’m also borrowing a bike from a friend that is in much need of some TLC to learn with this week because my bike does not need too much work, and it will give me an extra bike to practice on.

How I Learned To Speed Read In A Week

7 days and 8.5 books later, I think I’ve got the hang of speed reading. I’m no Roosevelt (yet), and I still have plenty of room for improvement, but using a flash-based program I can comfortably read at a rate of 1000wpm, as I push it up to 1100wpm I start falling behind and losing track. I am able to understand the general idea of what I am reading but after a few minutes I get frustrated. I’ve also found four words per cluster to be my ideal setting. I found it was easier to read with word clusters of three-four words per screen instead of two. My speed still decreases when reading from a passage or an actual book, it’s a lot easier when the words are already clustered together without me having to think about it. I started using an index card to cover what I have already read and it has eliminated the temptation to skip back to previous text.

The iPhone app, Accelereader, was one of the most useful tools for practicing. Whenever I was on the bus or train I would practice reading. The app also has a bunch of ebooks available to read. I read “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes“, “Through The Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There“, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” and “The Time Machine” while going through the app’s different exercises.

In addition to those books, I read “Cat’s Cradle“, “A Game Of Thrones“, “Wicked: The Life And Times Of The Wicked Witch Of The West“, “A Walk In The Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail“‘, and finished “Guns, Germs and Steel“. With that I was able to put a little dent in my stack of books to read, and the rest of the stack no longer seems so intimidating.

So, here’s my advice:

Practice; read, read, read.

Commit at least an hour to speed reading every day. The first two days I had to make a conscious effort to speed read, but as the week went on, I was naturally applying speed reading techniques to all of my reading. I still made sure to spend at least an hour (usually in 20-30 min segments), doing speed reading exercises to increase my speed.

Use online free resources, there are tons of them! I really liked Read Speeder which I posted about before. It was nice being able to see how much I improved each day, and over the course of the week.

Use your finger or a pen to guide your eye and set the pace for your reading when working with hard copies. There’s no need to feel self-conscious about it. People will be too focused on the speed that you are moving through the text at, to think that it’s childish to use your finger when  reading. It’s not childish, it’s smart, and there’s a reason most students are taught that technique in grade school.

Theodore Roosevelt: Speed Reading and Dickens

Roosevelt reading with his dog in Colorado in 1905 (AP).

Roosevelt reading with his dog in Colorado in 1905 (AP).

“The wise thing to do is simply to skip the bosh and twaddle and vulgarity and untruth, and get the benefit out of the rest.” – Theodore Roosevelt, on reading Charles Dickens

Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th American president, was also an avid speed reader. It’s been said that while president, he would read a book before breakfast everyday. That takes some serious skill and dedication. There is an alleged list of his favorite books that he would read over and over again, but I have not been able to find it yet. I’m curious to see what books were most appealing to a man who read just about anything he could get his hands on. Apparently, Franklin Rosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Jimmy Carter were all speed readers as well, but none was as active in his reading as Teddy Roosevelt.