MILWAUKEE — Sarah Martis is a busy working mom, who serves as the executive director of the Milwaukee Bar Association.

“What we’re focused on is providing those attorneys support they need to do their jobs well,” said Martis. 

Martis is focused on helping others. She was never used to asking for help herself until a major health scare in her 30s. 

What You Need To Know

  • Sarah Martis had an “ischemic” stroke 

  • An ischemic stroke is when a blood clot goes in a blood vessel and blocks the blood flow to a certain area of the brain

  • Thanks to her husband calling 911, Martis had no severe brain damage 

“It’s really kind of surreal that it even happened to me because I don’t feel like I had a stroke at all,” said Martis. “I feel like just how I did before.”

Martis experienced what’s called an “ischemic” stroke in the middle of the night. Her husband woke up shortly after and was able to call 911.

“From the time he found me to the time I was on a table at Froedtert was about 45 minutes, which is super lucky,” said Martis. “The longer that you sit there with the blood on your brain. This side of my brain was covered in blood and totally deprived it of any kind oxygen.”

Doctors were able to intervene before any permanent damage was done. What exactly led to Martis’ stroke is unknown, but she did gain some insight from genetic testing.

“I do have a genetic mutation which causes me to clot more than an average person,” said Martis.

Dr. Hatim Attar, a vascular neurologist at Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin, described what an ischemic stroke is.

“Strokes are when a blood clot goes in a blood vessel and blocks the blood flow to a certain area of the brain,” said Attar. “That’s what we call ischemic strokes. You can also have hemorrhagic when there’s bleeding in the brain.”

He said the level at which you’re affected by a stroke depends on its location and severity and how fast you get treatment.

An important acronym he uses to recognize signs of a stroke is BE FAST:

  • B stands for balance: recognizing changes in balance or trouble walking
  • E stands for eyes: trouble seeing out of one or both eyes
  • F stands for face: facial drooping or uneven smile
  • A stands for arm: noticing arm or leg weakness or numbness
  • S stands for speech: slurred speech or difficulty talking or understanding
  • T stands for time: call 911 and get to a hospital as soon as possible

Martis said she is forever thankful for her husband’s quick response. She has no major side effects but gets checkups more often now.

“It’s just a part of what you do for yourself, for your family,” said Martis. “So that you can stay around and to not be scared of things.” 

As a young survivor, she’s added a new role to her life in advocating for stroke awareness and prevention.