Woman thought her selfies looked strange - then realized she was having a stroke

Juanita Branch shows one of the selfies on her phone.
Juanita Branch shows one of the selfies on her phone. ABC 7 Broadcast/Screenshot

Juanita Branch, a 63-year-old resident of Fraser, Mich., said she used to “make fun of selfies,” according to ClickOnDetroit.

That is, until they saved her life, she says.

Branch said hardly ever took selfies, but pulled out her phone “once in a blue moon” to take a picture for her Facebook page, Macomb Daily reported.

That’s what she was doing in August when she started looking through them and noticed something odd, according to the paper.

Her face and lips looked distorted and droopy, which she recognized as symptoms of a stroke because she’d had a small one before, the paper reported.

“Each (picture) got worse and I’m like, ‘What the heck is going on?’ ” Branch said, according to Fox 2 Detroit. She went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror, which confirmed her suspicions and led her to call for help to get to the hospital, the station reported.

Strokes can occur when blood vessels become blocked or burst in the brain, causing cells to die, according to the Centers for Disease Control. They can be deadly or can cause serious disability.

The CDC says a way to remember stroke symptoms is “FAST:” Face, for if the face is drooping; arms, for if the arms are hard to move; speech, for if speech is slurred; and time, for time to call 911.

“A lot of people think it hurts when you have a stroke but it doesn’t,” Branch said, according to Macomb Daily. “When you see symptoms you need to call someone right away.”

When she arrived at the hospital, doctors were able to look at the time stamps on the photos and realize that she was within the window where they could safely give her an anti-clotting agent to treat the stroke, WXYZ reported.

Doctors can administer the drug, called tissue plasinogen activator, only within a few hours of the stroke, ClickOnDetroit reported. Otherwise it can cause hemorrhaging in the brain.

“I’ve never had this happen where someone came in with a selfie that was time-stamped and knew exactly when the stroke started,” said Dr. Jason Muir said, according to the station.

“I’m gonna stop making fun of people who take selfies. Because that selfie literally did save my life,” Branch said, according to Fox 2 Detroit.

After weeks at the hospital and hours of physical therapy, Branch went back home Wednesday, the station reported.

“She’s doing great. Seeing her, now compared to how she was when she came in, she’s 100 percent better,” her doctor said, according to Macomb Daily.

Project DASH for Doctors Against Stroke and Heart Attack performed a music video at The Medical Center, Navicent Health explaining the symptoms of a heart attack and stroke. The video became popular on Facebook.