As regular readers know, this blog isn’t focused on drenching the Internet with my personal angst. I generally don’t give readers updates on the daily trials and tribulations of my life. Dr. Evil said it best:
The details of my life are quite inconsequential.
But I’ll make an exception this time. On Saturday, I had a TIA, a Transcient Ischemic Attack. I spent two days in the hospital, wondering about the extent of the damage, about possible disability, even about mere survival.
So, how was your weekend?
As Mark Twain said, the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated. I write, first, to urge readers to take all possible stroke symptoms seriously indeed, because any stroke could leave one paralyzed or in other ways seriously debilitated–if they survive. But I also write because there is indeed hope.
I just sat down to supper when I suddenly felt dizzy, almost like receiving a blow to the head. Almost immediately, the vision in my left eye became very slightly blurry, and my left leg and arm felt slightly–uncoordinated. Not weak, not tingly, not paralyzed–I could walk just fine–but very slightly uncoordinated feeling. That word doesn’t exactly describe the sensation, but it’ll do for now.
This was not unexpected. Last summer, for the first time in my life, I was diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation, and also for the first time in my life, was chained to daily doses of medication, me, a guy who doesn’t like to take so much as an aspirin. So I bought–like an old person!–little plastic containers with the days of the week so I wouldn’t forget to take my pills on the right days at the right times. And I’m only 59! Practically a baby! But the problem is that anyone with A-Fib has an increased risk of stroke. No kidding.
It has been something of an adjustment. I’ve been an athlete my entire life, used to pushing myself physically and doing whatever I want. Suddenly, I found my ability to do tasks that would have caused me not a moment’s thought in the past to be dependent upon how well my heart was beating at a given moment. Certainly, medication helped, but it’s not perfect. Obviously.
I am doubly fortunate. God apparently looks out for children and high school English teachers, at least in part by having me live only a half hour from a hospital with an excellent Level 1 neurology unit, which is where I ended up. And several CAT scans, an MRI, having dye injected into my bloodstream so they could see if my carotid arteries and other blood vessels in my head were clogged (that’s the big arteries on either side of the neck that feed the brain–they weren’t), and endless shots, blood pressure checks, blood sugar checks, and other minor indignities–one MRI took place at 0400–they found that I did indeed have what my neurologist called “a little stroke.” It may have been slightly more serious than a TIA, but the effects are apparently no more serious, all of which is very good for me.
The experience, while sobering, to say the least, was interesting in many ways. Whenever any staff member entered my room, they asked me my name and date of birth–a good way to avoid giving the wrong treatment to the wrong person. They also frequently asked me the date and where I was–stroke victims often suffer confusion or loss of memory. It got to the point that I began reeling off my room number, name of the ward, hospital, city, state, country, planet, solar system and Milky Way Galaxy. And I had to do frequent physical tests, including holding my arms out in front of me (stroke victim’s arms often start to drift downward), smiling (half the mouth often droops), and various tests of strength of arms and legs. No problems there.
One stereotype seems to be true: hospital food is mediocre at best. Pretty much everything is a bit–limp. Nothing seems to be crisp. There are, no doubt, deep philosophical implications–or perhaps a wryly ironic kitchen staff was satirizing my aging manhood?
But, I’m back to work in the morning and also determined to get the most from every minute I have with Mrs. Manor, a wonderful woman who deserves much better than me. We take too much for granted without realizing we are doing it. I’m probably also going to have to forego singing in an opera this summer and coming fall. I need the time to focus on rebuilding my fitness and health to a higher level. This might also mean that I post a bit less from time to time. We’ll see how things go. You may get a bit less each week, but more in the long run.
I know readers have been expecting my updated rationale for gun ownership series. I was going to post the first article on Sunday, but I was a bit busy wondering about more existential issues.
Everyone should be aware of stroke symptoms and rather than ignore them, as far too many do, immediately seek medical help. It’s serious business.
It’s also a reminder that as much as we fight to be in absolute charge of our lives, we’re not. We never were. All that we’ve learned, all that we’ve experienced, all that we are, all of the kindness and love we have not shared, all of it and more can vanish in an instant. Of course, as in Adam, all die, but when is too soon? As a veteran and police officer, I made my peace with the possibility of untimely death long, long ago. Intellectually, I know it can happen at any time. Spiritually, I’m ready. But as a fallible, weak human being, I’d like to stick around at least a bit longer. Teach more, sing more, learn more, read more, annoy statists, finish my pushups…
The upshot is all seems to be well for now. I’ll be taking blood thinners and cholesterol reducing medication. And for now at least, before ObamaCare turns us into a copy of England, I’ll have access to excellent medical care. The good Lord apparently takes care of children and high school English teachers, and for both, I am indeed grateful, as I am grateful for those that choose to patronize this scruffy little blog. My most sincere thanks and appreciation, and my wish that we may share the events of the day for many years to come.
Perhaps the most important lesson that came to me as I was studiously prevented from sleeping this weekend (that’s obviously the prime directive of hospital care), is the most meaningful thing we can strive to be is useful servants of God. Simple, isn’t it, yet we strive for a lifetime, however long that might be.
See you soon, and strive on!