By Liz Crudgington
A radio presenter from Broadstairs has pledged to use the station to raise awareness of stroke after experiencing one where the only symptom was sudden blurred vision.
Jerry Banks is part of the team at Academy FM Thanet and was in the studio when he suddenly realised he could not read his notes.
When an eye test revealed no issues, he sought a second opinion from a different optician who referred him to his GP, who then sent him to East Kent Hospitals’ consultant Tom Webb.
Dr Webb immediately suspected a stroke and scans confirmed his suspicion, and revealed a life-threatening blood clot in an artery in Jerry’s neck.
The 66 year old said: “I always thought of stroke as being a major event where you are paralysed, and it affects your speech, and one side of the body collapses.
“But for me it was purely the vision issues. It was quite extreme; when I tried to read the paper I could only read one word at a time and the rest of the sentence was blurred.
“I thought I was going blind – I never imagined it would be a stroke.”
Jerry was offered an MRI scan the day after speaking to his GP, and the results revealed he had suffered a stroke that had affected his eyesight and speech.
Just a few days later surgeon Lal Senaratne operated to remove the clot.
Jerry said: “It all happened very fast. Mr Senaratne operated on the Saturday, and I had only spoken to my GP on the Monday.
“But he said one day later might have been too late. It sounds really dramatic, and it was hard to believe it was happening. Everyone acted with the utmost urgency and efficiency.”
As Jerry recovered in intensive care, Mr Senaratne came to check on him and showed him the scan, revealing how close the clot was to blocking blood flow to his brain.
He said: “It was pretty emotional. I was choked up at the enormity of what had happened.
“He had saved my life. I said I didn’t know how to thank him and he said if I could use my position at the radio to raise awareness of stroke that would be enough for him.
“The second I got home I was on the phone to the studio. We are making a stroke awareness advert and I will talk about it live on air on the breakfast show.
“I want people to know if you have any sudden symptoms you should speak to your GP. If I had waited, I might not be here to tell the tale.”
Dr Webb said: “Stroke can happen to anyone, of any age, at any time, and is a life-threatening medical emergency.
“Although Mr Banks did not experience the classic symptoms of stroke – where someone’s face appears to droop on one side, they experience weakness in one side of their body and their speech is slurred – they are still the most common and it’s vital that everyone is aware of them.
“But any sudden severe symptoms should always be checked with a medical professional.”
The acronym FAST, for face, arms, speech, time, can be used to remember the most common stroke symptoms. Time refers to time to call 999 if you see any of the three symptoms mentioned.
Other less well-known symptoms of stroke include confusion, difficulty understanding what someone is saying, problems with balance or co-ordination or difficulty swallowing. For more information visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stroke/symptoms/ or https://www.stroke.org.uk/what-is-stroke/what-are-the-symptoms-of-stroke