It was a quick-acting eye doctor who told a Wichita woman she may have experienced a stroke.
Maria Bias had been experiencing vision troubles for nearly 24 hours when she got to the eye doctor a couple days before Christmas last year.
Looking back, she now knows they were the symptoms of a stroke.
Many people experience facial drooping, speech troubles or coordination issues as part of their stroke symptoms, but Maria says her symptoms were harder to recognize.
“I just kinda looked at him, and I said, I can’t see,” remembers Maria.
Maria Bias went on to tell her husband she’d had trouble seeing her computer screen at work and had some peripheral vision issues later in the day.
When Maria woke the next morning still having trouble, the two headed for Maria’s eye doctor.
“Just as he finished the eye test, the field vision test where you look in the computer and do the clicky thing,” explains Maria. “He stepped out of the room politely, and I heard him in the hallway talking, and he said she didn’t pass her field vision test.”
Maria says at the point she still wasn’t sure the staff was even talking about her, until she says the situation progressed quickly.
“All of a sudden the doctor rushed in, and she got right in front of me and said we think you had a stroke,” says Maria.
Not wanting to wait for an ambulance, a nurse drove Maria across the street to Wesley Medical Center.
There she went through a lot of tests, but it was an MRI that confirmed what doctors suspected.
“Yeah the MRI showed you had a stroke, we don’t know exactly what caused it,” says Maria.
A transient ischemic attack on the right side of Maria’s brain had likely caused her vision issues.
Maria didn’t experience the other typical stroke symptoms indicated by the acronym ‘F.A.S.T.’ – face, arm, speech and time.
“My doctor told me it had affected my peripheral vision on my left side so this I can see my arm but how many fingers I still can’t see that,” says Maria.
Now Maria is on aspirin, as well as cholesterol and blood pressure meds.
She says her vision is coming back little by little but was impacted enough that it affects her daily life.
“I’d give anything to, if you could turn back the hands of time,” pauses Maria. “I haven’t driven my car in over six months.”
The support of her husband and family helps her continue to work her job of 30-some years with the city of Wichita.
She works to spread the message that anyone can have a stroke at any time.
In the meantime, she’s hopeful to continue having more of her vision return.
“I guess I just refuse to be defeated.”
Maria was honored at the Wichita Heart Walk last month and credits the American Heart Association with helping to educate her and show her the many inspirational people in our community also living life after experiencing a stroke.