Healthier Together: Stroke Awareness Month

A Seattle gardener is lucky to be alive after having a stroke without realizing it was happening.

For Healthier Together, KIRO 7′s Ranji Sinha spoke to the woman who suffered the stroke and another fellow gardener who helped save her life.

The two women are now speaking out during May’s Stroke Awareness Month and are warning the public that a stroke can happen anywhere and that the signs need to be spotted quickly.

Joyce Moty is a gardener at the Public Garden in Bradner Gardens Park and she didn’t mince words when it comes to speaking about fellow gardener Pamela Williams.

“I owe her my life,” Moty said.

While Williams and Moty work and volunteer at the garden, Williams is also a registered nurse practitioner.

The women met up with KIRO 7′s crew, alongside a representative from the American Hearth Association, to share their story.

The AHA says the two women are a perfect example of what to do when someone suffers a stroke and why it’s critical to act fast.

Williams admits it didn’t take much for her to recognize the signs of stroke.

“I was working in the garden, and she came over to me and was talking in an animated, happy way -- but she wasn’t really making sense,” Williams said.

The idyllic garden is not the place where the women would expect to learn a hard but life-saving lesson.

Joyce Moty says she only realized she’d had a stroke after she caught up with Williams.

“I was oblivious to it, but when I got up and I was at home, my right arm was just kind of limp, and I didn’t want to do things, but I thought nothing of it,” Moty said.

Williams did act fast, but admitted anyone could have missed the signs if they had seen Joyce on that day in July 2022.

“It could have easily been missed because she was talking and her mood was happy. She seemed herself,” Williams said.

Moty had driven to the garden that day and was even planning a small garden party lunch; she figured pain or discomfort could wait.

When Moty opened her mouth to speak to Williams, reality became clear.

“The first thing she said to me was you need to go to the ER right now!” Moty said.

Williams caught one major sign as soon as she started speaking to Moty.

“I said, ‘Joyce, your words are not making sense,’” Williams said.

Moty admits learning what was happening was jarring.

“You just don’t believe it’s happening to you, you know, and that’s the part where I kind of fell down,” Moty said.

Williams took Joyce Moty to Swedish’s stroke center and ran in ahead to warn staff about the stroke.

Minutes later, Moty was in a scanner, and the stroke was confirmed.

It’s a situation Williams knew well from working with stroke patients.

Fast action in the garden all came down to Moty’s speech -- but there are other signs of stroke.

The acronym BEFAST helps people remember the signs.

  • B – Balance
  • E – Blurred vision
  • F – Face drooping
  • A – Arms can’t stay up
  • S – Speech slurred/jumbled
  • T – Time. Act quickly, calling 911

Williams knows the last part of the BEFAST acronym is the most critical.

“There’s a couple of hour window where you can intervene and save (the) brain, so I always tell people – time is brain,” Williams said.

Moty got to the hospital in that critical window and surgical treatment removed the blood clot from her brain, fending off brain damage.

She says everything transpired in a matter of hours.

“Lucky for me, I actually managed to pass all the tests,” Moty said.

Nearly two years later, Moty shows no signs of damage from her stroke, in fact her passion for gardening continues.

Helping things grow is a passion for Joyce, a passion preserved by her recognition that a stroke can happen anywhere, including in the gardens she loves.

Moty knows that she owes a debt to Williams.

“I’m a very, very lucky person… I wasn’t afraid, but I got home, and I was like, ‘Whoa, I’ve got a new lease on life,’” Moty said.

Williams says she was just glad to be able to help and catch the signs, even on a bright summer day gardening.

“It was a very, very happy ending, and I was happy to be there,” Williams said.

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