It's important to keep in mind how fragile and precious your health and life really is.
No one knows the day that he or she will leave this world or how he or she will depart. But sometimes life gives us little reminders that nothing is guaranteed. Local writer, sports radio talk show host, and former Detroit News journalist Terry Foster was reminded of that recently when he had a mild stroke that was apparently brought on by hypertension. Foster was already dealing with Type 2 diabetes. Hypertension and Type 2 diabetes often occur together. Although it appears that Foster had his blood glucose within safe levels he did not have his hypertension under control. So what happened, happened. This is just another reminder of how important it is for people, particularly African-Americans, to avoid these conditions in the first place or stringently deal with the conditions if they are unfortunate enough to have them. Proper diet and exercise are not only what we owe to ourselves and our loved ones as joyful payment for being alive but good food and vigorous movement are also some of the most effective tools we have to fight hypertension and Type 2 diabetes. Some people still consider it a sign of virility to avoid seeing a doctor. I think that the wiser move is to treat going to the doctor the same way you would maintenance on a car or home-- a routine if occasionally unpleasant task that must be done in order to avoid larger costs down the line. The scary thing about hypertension is that you may have it for quite some time and feel no ill effects. You'll feel fine right up until the moment when you have a stroke, go blind or undergo even worse experiences.
Highly engaged listeners and video stream viewers could have noticed a few weeks ago that Foster seemed to be having difficulty with some words. He says now that he was in denial.
“I was struggling with my speech and my fine motor skills in my right hand were off,” Foster said. “I was typing slower, I had slower reaction times and I thought it was the effect of a bad cold that I had, but obviously it wasn’t and I was on the air for a couple of days and I was struggling with my speech. At some point, I was kind of getting scared and said ‘I need to go in and see what’s going on’ and that’s what that was.”
What was the last straw?
“It was slurred, I couldn’t say ‘971 The Ticket,’ I was like saying ‘nine-one the Ticket, like that. There were certain words that I could not say or they were child-like when I said that,” Foster said. “And so, I think, to compensate I started talking louder and slower and that was the big symptom right there.”
Now, he has a message for his listeners, the men, especially. Don’t skip doctor’s visits. And no matter how strong you feel, no one is invincible. Foster said he hadn’t been to the doctor and didn’t know he had high blood pressure, which was 220 over something he can’t remember when he showed up at Henry Ford Hospital in West Bloomfield suspecting something was wrong. Like most, he was eating inconsistently, high-fat foods sometimes and healthy meals other times.
Below Foster talks about the literal bullet he dodged and some of the warning signs he ignored. I thought this talk was worth sharing. Each of us may have inherited some weaknesses from our parents. We can't do anything about that. But we can control what we do with our body and how we treat it. There's a wealth of information available on how to eat better and exercise more often. Doing those things just might save your life.