Andrea Vianello and the stroke: “The promptness of help saved me”

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It happened to him on a Saturday morning, around 10am. It was February 2, 2019 and Andrea Vianello, director of RaiNews24, who was 57 at the time, was not working that day. His wife Francesca was also at home with him. Suddenly “I could no longer speak: I was only able to scream,” he explains. “My luck was the clarity of my wife, who immediately understood the gravity of the situation and called for help.” It was a stroke. Vianello was immediately transported to the Policlinico Umberto I in Rome, a hospital with a “stroke unity”, and was operated on immediately.

If today he has (“almost”, he says) fully recovered the use of the word and has regained his life, it is thanks to the timeliness of help. And that’s why, as the new president of A.L.I.Ce. Italia Odv (Association for the Fight against Cerebral Stroke), on the occasion of the World Day against cerebral stroke, Vianello promotes the theme «Minutes can save livesMinutes can save lives. “When it comes to strokes, any waste of time can cause problems. Every minute is precious: just think that for every second that is delayed after the stroke 32 thousand neurons are burned and 1.9 million for every minute “.

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How did he feel right after the stroke when he lost his speech?
“When I woke up from the operation, which I knew was so risky, I was glad to be alive. But I did not speak: I was lost, like a child, and I had the terrible feeling of being looked at as a person who does not understand. I no longer wanted to be seen by anyone, I was afraid they would look at me like a monster. Words were trapped in my brain, and I, who had identified myself as a man of words, had the feeling that it was all over. But it wasn’t like that: it takes time and it takes the right people ”.

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How long did it take before he got his life back in hand?
“Seven or eight months. But I kept getting better and better, thanks to rehabilitation, speech therapy. Even though the doctors say it doesn’t improve further after six months or a year, in reality, in my experience, there is room for work even beyond that time frame. And getting back into the cycle of life helps ».

How are symptoms recognized early on?
“In case of weakness on one side of the body, crooked mouth, difficulty in speaking or understanding, double vision or reduced field of vision, violent and sudden headache, onset of confusion, difficulty in coordinating movements and staying in balance, it is necessary to call 112 (in those regions where the single emergency number is active) or 118. Even just one of these can be a symptom of a stroke. We must not waste time calling friends and neighbors, but immediately alert the doctors, who know how to behave and where to transport the affected person ».

Why did you decide to put your story at the service of others?
«I thought it was right to lend an extra hand because there are so many things to do to raise awareness. The word “stroke” is scary, and is rarely used, as was the case with the word “cancer”. But we must fight to get people to talk about this condition, to look it in the face. It is the third cause of death in our country and the first of disabilities: it is a theme that must be dealt with. And it is not a shame. But it is necessary to know what needs to be done and where to go to face it. We must know that it can be faced: I am still inside the world, and my life goes on ”.

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