Young stroke survivor warns it can happen to anyone

Drew Ganon

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Most often the symptoms of a stroke are best realized after the event.

A simple acronym can help you recognize the stroke when it’s happening, so you can get help faster. The acronym is F.A.S.T. F is for facial drooping, A for your arm, S for your speech and most importantly T is for time.

All symptoms one recent Wichita State University grad says could have immediately told him he was having a stroke if he’d known them at the time.

“I was 23, exercised five or six times a week, and perfectly healthy so then didn’t know why it had happened.”

Working a full-time job in commercial real estate, you could say the world was Drew Ganon’s oyster.

But when this strong young man woke up violently ill in January of this year, his life’s course took a big turn.

“So, then I get up and tried to walk and kinda started , it was different than usual,” Drew explains. “I couldn’t walk, my balance was completely off.”

Drew called his dad who called an ambulance.

On the ride to the hospital, the EMTs suggested Drew had a bad inner ear infection and gave him anti nausea meds that Drew says didn’t even touch his vomiting.

“My dad and I, both of us didn’t know a single symptom of what a stroke was, so that wasn’t even on our radar,” says Drew.

After several tries at other treatments failed, a doctor ordered drew an MRI.

“So, finally, we get the results back, and he comes in and says, your son has had a stroke and that’s when we were just completely shocked. I didn’t know what that meant or what was happening,” remembers Drew.

Stroke victims can often lose a million brain cells a minute.

It took the better part of a day for doctors to find Drew had a stroke.

“They ended up finding a PFO (patent foramen ovale) hole in my heart, it basically allowed a blood clot to go up to my heart, and it passed to my brain and that’s what led to the stroke. The back of my brain is where it happened,” Drew Explains.

Drew says he had some temporary memory loss and troubles walking. He had to use a walker the next morning.

“I remember my mom took a picture, and we sent it to all my friends. They couldn’t believe it. It looked like I was 80 years old,” Drew laughs.

But as you can see here, Drew has recovered remarkably well.

“The walking came back which really was a blessing and miracle.”

The American Heart Association helped Drew find some peer support through his recovery, and helped Drew and his family educate their friends and loved ones.

Drew shares, “Know F.A.S.T. because that’s the easiest way, You would have some of those symptoms if you’re having a stroke.”

Looking back, Drew says he’s grateful for the experience that changed his outlook on life.

“Every morning, I wake up, I’m just so thankful, and it’s no longer, I have to do this, or I have to do that. Everyday, probably 10 times a day, I’m just so thankful to be alive.”

You can read more about “F.A.S.T.” and stroke symptoms by clicking here.


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