F.A.S.T. is an easy way to remember the sudden signs of stroke. When you can spot the signs, you'll know that you need to call 9-1-1 for help right away. F.A.S.T. is:
It's tough to find Wilmer Moffet sitting still.
At the age of 89, one might spot him joking with children at State Street Elementary School as he fills their backpacks with weekend snacks through Topeka North Outreach, or perhaps helping with a church activity or even singing with a local barbershop group.
But a day just over a year ago nearly put a stop to all that.
Wilmer recalls he simply was not feeling well and knew something was wrong but figured it would wear off.
However, he did feel poorly enough that he called his friend Angi Heller-Workman to cancel a meeting they had scheduled.
Angi said it wasn't the normal Wilmer she heard on the phone. She noticed he was having trouble recalling words and his speech was very slow and slurred.
Angi is a social worker and is familiar with the signs of a person is suffering a stroke. She tried explaining it to Wilmer so he would call 911. Wilmer says he didn't believe her, and Angi, as he put it, "got irritated and hung up on me."
Angi knew Wilmer had previously been treated for a heart attack and remembered the name, so she called his cardiologist's office at Cotton-O'Neil Heart Center. The doctor's nurse Kim Leinweber happened to be at her desk - unusual during the time of day they're seeing patients - and answered the phone.
Angi explained the situation with Wilmer and asked if Kim would call him and try to convince him to call for an ambulance, so Kim decided to take a crack at it.
Kim says she did an assessment over the phone by ask Wilmer if he had any facial drooping and whether one of his arms would drift lower than the other when he held them up. She says Wilmer denied those symptoms, but she could tell his speech was obviously slurred.
Just as Angi had, Kim told Wilmer he needed to call 911. She says Wilmer tried to brush her off, too, but she said, very sternly, "No. I am going to hang up the phone and you will call 911."
He finally replied, "Okay."
Wilmer says, "She used such a tone of voice that I could not ignore her."
It was a good thing, because it meant doctors could give Wilmer medication to limit the effects of the stroke. Kim says patients who wait too long into a stroke's progression to seek treatment may end up with permanent disability and may even die. In Wilmer's case, he sometimes uses a cane to steady himself when walking but otherwise suffers no obvious lingering effects.
Which means the quick treatment gave him back his ability to give back.
Angi says it's wonderful to see that he can still be as active in the community as he always was, calling him a "wonderful man to know."
Kim says Wilmer's experience is a lesson to other people to pay attention to their symptoms and not hesitate to seek treatment for something out of the ordinary. She says, as a nurse, it feels good to know she played a role in Wilmer's successful treatment.
As for Wilmer, he wrote both women poems to thank them for their efforts. He even joked in his words to Kim that he's "glad she ordered" him to call for help.
"They saved my life," Wilmer said.