My Mother’s Stroke

By: Karin Pauly

Everything Changed in the Blink of an Eye

My mother, Nancy, suffered a stroke in 2013 when she was 78-years-old. She actually went blind from it, and it was the catalyst for her moving from my home into assisted living at Shepherd of Grace in Becker.

Nancy’s stroke was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. Parts of the experience I remember vividly, and other parts have vanished from my memory as they are simply too painful to recall. I was traveling for work that day. I flew from Minnesota to Ohio and back for a meeting, all in one day. I came home exhausted and was unpacking in my lower-level bedroom. Suddenly, I heard my mom crying out for me – “Karin, help! Help me, I can’t see anything. It is black, I think I have had a stroke!”. From my bedroom door I looked up my staircase to see my mother crouched on the floor crying at the top of the stairs. She had crawled from her bedroom, completely blind to come and find me. I ran to her and told her it would be all right and asked my husband to call 911.

The EMTs came and took over, and my mother kept saying she had had a stroke. However, she was not presenting as a stroke patient, because she could speak clearly and showed no signs of muscle or body weakness. In fact, it wasn’t until she was admitted to the hospital and had a brain scan that she was treated as a stroke patient. She knew she had a stroke, but neither the EMT team or the emergency room medical staff recognized or treated her as a stroke patient.

I do not fault the emergency team who responded to my mother’s stroke as they sincerely did not think she had a stroke – I believe that instant blindness as a symptom was not something they were trained to identify as a symptom. However, know that there are multiple ways a stroke may present in a patient. If you are with some one who believes they have had a stroke, take it seriously, and insist that medical professionals treat them as a stroke victim. Time loss is brain loss.


To learn more, check out the American Stroke Association website at:

or the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance website at: