In last week’s column, I reported about our family’s delightful Pennsylvania reunion.

It was such a wonderful event, out in the Amish country, with family galore.

Today I’m even more motivated to work on family history and dig through boxes of family pictures.

However, if you can recall, I had returned home with a nasty flu, lots of nausea and an unusual weakness.

After I arrived, everything was put on hold, including the reading of mail, unpacking suitcases, laundry, and yes, even dinner.

I was so tired, I couldn’t even see. So rather than worry, I went to bed.

The next morning, my world turned upside down.

My speech was slurred. Then, my gut said, Diane, check your face in the mirror.

When I did, I could clearly see that half of my face was drooping, along with my mouth.

I was having a stroke.

May I stop right here and shout, “IF THIS OCCURS, IMMEDIATELY CALL 911!”

Did I state that clearly enough?

I always thought people like me didn’t have strokes. Or if they did it was so apparent, that it caused them to pass out or something.

I didn’t pass out. I also did not call 911.

I called two friends. The first one was Roberta, a dear nurse friend, who knows everything. So I asked her if I was having a stroke.

Roberta instructed me to get to the hospital.

So I called a second friend, Wendy, and told her I wasn’t feeling well.

When she heard my voice, Wendy said she would be right over.

She was, and we were on the way to the hospital.

Luckily, I live about eight minutes from St. Mary’s Medical Center, where the ER became a hive of activity.

I didn’t realize that many people could fit in the same room as a bed and an EKG machine. There were several nurses, two doctors, techs, an X-ray tech, a phlebotomist, Wendy, and I honestly don’t know who else was there.

For the first time in my life, I couldn’t talk much.

I apologize for making light of this. It was extremely serious.

I was having a stroke, where time is of the essence.

A few weeks ago I read a short article on what to look for if you think you, or your friend, is having a stroke.

The article started with, seek immediate medical attention!

It didn’t read phone a friend, like from “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”

The article stated, if you notice any signs or symptoms of a stroke, even if they seem to fluctuate or disappear, think "FAST" and do the following:

• Face. Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

• Arms. Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward? Or is one arm unable to rise up?

• Speech. Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is his or her speech slurred or strange?

• Time. If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately.

Well, I am into my second week of post-stroke. There are tests and more tests, and a heart monitor, lab work, and MRI’s.

Luckily, I am alive and refocused on what I eat, exercise and decreasing stress. I’m a little scared, too.

I am also refocused on my family, the most important thing on this Earth.

I received a call on Sunday from my daughter Ashley, who lives in Idaho. They are coming in for a visit in a month, all seven of them.

I cannot wait. I yearn for my long-distance children. Plus time moves too fast. My oldest grandchild, Dallin, turns 15 this week.

I love them all and miss them terribly.

Dear readers, don’t ever forget. Family should always come first.

Diane Mack is coordinator of Putting Families First, Jackson County's Family Week Foundation. Email her at Director@jacksoncountyfamilyweek.org.