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Knowing the signs of a stroke

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During as close as we get at Edmond Life & Leisure to an editorial meeting, editor Steve Gust reminded me that we were not living up to the request made to us by one of Edmond’s finest citizens. 

Many of you may not remember our friend and Edmond business superstar Courtney Wood but he used to frequent our office over the years before he fell asleep in the Lord last year.

Wood had a gregarious personality and was a leader in the Edmond business community. He was an independent insurance agent and at times had his own agency. Even though he was an older gentleman, he had an abundance of energy. Throughout the time that Courtney’s career was flourishing, he was also giving back to his community as an educator and a volunteer. He taught classes for over 20 years at Central State University, the University of Oklahoma, and a variety of insurance schools. He had a special place in his heart for the YMCA and was Chairman of the Board of Directors, spear-headed many capital campaigns and was elected an Honorary Board 

Member for Life.

Shortly before turning 65, Courtney suffered a massive stroke which left him with debilitating consequences that he lived with for his last 19 years. He learned to compensate for his speech deficiencies by using a flipbook. He might not be able to say the word he wanted, but he could flip to it and show you. 

He suffered mightily but rallied and began a crusade for stroke awareness, leaving brochures and information at businesses and organizations throughout Edmond. It was during this time that he volunteered with the Oklahoma 

Heart Hospital and Edmond’s Hope Center.

Many folks suffering such a stroke would sit at home and question why it happened to them. Wood went about the business of finding out exactly how the damage from his stroke could have been lessened if not completely avoided. He then put his abundance of energy into educating others which is what brought him to our door on many occasions.

While Wood had some trouble communicating what was on his mind, he managed to bring printed material to help with his presentation. He used to say, “Words, not good with words. I think them but can’t say them.” His passion for his cause was more then enough to overcome any damage left by the stroke. 

He was insistent that I put the information in the newspaper to communicate to our readers the importance of knowing the signs of a stroke and getting quick intervention to prevent serious damage.

Gust reminded me that since his passing, we had not lived up to our promise to our buddy Courtney to keep our readers informed and perhaps prevent a death so here is what we found to be the latest information on how to detect a stroke and the need for quick treatment.

During a stroke, every minute counts, Fast treatment can lessen the brain damage that a stroke can cause. By knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke, you can take quick action and perhaps save a life — maybe even your own.

Signs of Stroke in Men and Women

Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.

Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech.

Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.

Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination.

Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

Call 9-1-1 right away if you or someone else has any of these symptoms.

Acting F.A.S.T. Is Key for Stroke

Acting F.A.S.T. can help stroke patients get the treatments they desperately need. The stroke treatments that work best are available only if the stroke is recognized and diagnosed within three hours of the first symptoms. Stroke patients may not be eligible for these if they do not arrive at the hospital in time.

If you think someone may be having a stroke, act F.A.S.T. and do the following simple test:

F — Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

A — Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S — Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange?

T — Time: If you see any of these signs, call 9-1-1 right away.

Note the time when any symptoms first appear. This information helps health care providers determine the best treatment for each person. Do not drive to the hospital or let someone else drive you. Call an ambulance so that medical personnel can begin life-saving treatment on the way to the emergency room.

Treating a Transient Ischemic Attack

If your symptoms go away after a few minutes, you may have had a transient ischemic attack (TIA). Although brief, a TIA is a sign of a serious condition that will not go away without medical help. 

Unfortunately, because TIAs clear up, many people ignore them. But paying attention to a TIA can save your life. Tell your health care team about your symptoms right away.

Plastic recycling is non-existent

About a year ago while in Europe, I met a former executive from the recycling industry. He truly popped my bubble of comfort with using recycling programs in the United State. As we have previously reported and large news outlets have confirmed, the amount of recycling that actually happens is a fraction of what we are led to believe as we religiously roll our recycle bins out to the curb every other week here in Edmond.

NPR and Frontline have teamed up to release a new report on the state of plastic recycling in America. In a nutshell, it does not exist. The problem is that not all used plastic can be turned into new stuff. Picking it up, sorting it out and melting it down is expensive. Plastic degrades every time it is reused which means it cannot be used more than once or twice.

Making new plastic is cheap and it is almost always less expensive and of better quality to just start fresh. This coupled with China stopping buying most kinds of plastic has led to a mostly non-existent plastic recycling business. How did recycling of plastic call to action get started?

The investigation concluded that around 1989 plastic manufacturers understood that their business was under attack and was in danger of being regulated out of business. It was the plastic industry that started the recycling messaging but according to the investigation, it was a distraction to get attention away from a reduction of plastic products.

It created a solution that the industry knew was not feasible to avoid further government regulation. Even the recycling symbol on the plastic carton came as a surprise to recycling operators who did not know where they came from with the numbers in the middle. It turns out those were a creation of the plastic industry as well and not any kind of government authority. Their claim was that it would make it easier for plastic recyclers to sort the containers even though no further education was provided to them.

The industry itself built recycling centers at a cost of millions of dollars as a diversionary tactic even though, according to the article they knew they were not sustainable. They were built starting in 1989 and most were out of business by the mid 1990’s. 

It seems to follow the same process that the soda industry started with recycling messaging to take the attention away from the plastic being dumped into landfills. According to the article, it was a total false narrative.

The bottom line is that we all work hard at sorting our recyclable material, but it is mostly to no avail. Paper seems to be the only productive recycling that goes on in this country and with the Chinese stopping its purchase as well, that program is in danger.

Nothing ever smelled right to me about the push for cities to recycle and as it turns out, chances are city governments were duped into providing diversion and cover for the plastic industry.

(Ray Hibbard may be reached by e-mail at

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