To begin, what I had was the mildest possible stroke. I am aware of how incredibly lucky I am. And I am dedicated to making sure that other people can survive by being not lucky, but smart. I fully anticipate the flames from people who have suffered severe injury and death (well, their families anyway; I’m safe from the latter as long as I avoid Ouija boards). Bring it on, I can take it.
(1) I do have direct experience of Traumatic Brain Injury via my 14-year-old daughter, who has cerebral palsy. You’ll hear more about her on her own blog, MyWeirdKid.com. I shit you not.
(2) How about we save our energy for making sure nobody else gets fucked up? My friend Heidi, for instance, lost her Dad to stroke. Her energy goes into fundraising, prevention, and education. ‘Nuff said.
A little chronology for y’all . . . On Monday, I thought I had either severe food poisoning, or my first migraine. The room suddenly spun, I couldn’t get up for about five minutes, and I sweat buckets the entire time. Also barfed a little, which is pleasant neither to experience nor describe. After a while it lightened up, and I just felt “normal” crappy.
All through Monday, it got better. By Monday night, I felt well enough to go to Taiko class. Did I mention that I’m an idiot? If the bleed – “dissection” – that I suffered had been a little bigger, or a little worse located, I could have woke up dead.
Tuesday morning I felt really awful. And this is from a guy who’s had multiple kidney stones, so my idea of awful is reasonably accurate. I went to ZoomCare, (at my wife’s urging, and because as smart as my family doctor is, our health care non-system has made it a beast to see her; I’ll drag that soapbox out in a future blog) and they concurred with my theories. As I’m reasonably convincing, I should probably keep my big mouth shut next time. So they gave me anti-nausea and painkillers and sent me home to suffer.
Tuesday night was horrific. I was in the shower every hour or so to relieve the pain, and got almost zero sleep.
Wednesday morning I compounded my stupidity by going to the Chiropractor. Already suffering from an injury caused by bone meeting a weak blood vessel, I actually paid a (reasonably talented) guy to wrench my head around.
After an hour of treatment I felt better for a whopping five minutes. I sat in the car for about half an hour and then drove (yes, drove, idiot, do we have to keep going back to this?) the few blocks to ZoomCare. Where they looked at me coming in, and said, unequivocally, ”You’re going to the ER now, OK?”
I drove (geez, I know, I know) the dozen or so blocks to the hospital, sat in the car for a few minutes, and lurched into the ER. About ten minutes after triage, somebody said, ”How about we get you a CAT scan?”
So there was about an hour between getting the CAT scan and knowing that my brain was swelling, to getting an MRI and finding out what the hell it was. And I’m one of the lucky ones with really spiffy health insurance (soapbox, later, promise). So I only spent an hour or so assuming it was a Brain Tumor and I Was Going to Die. Which is fortunate, ‘cause longer than that could have killed my ass with stress. I am an Olympic level worrier.
I do not write this lightly, as a friend’s niece is dealing with a very tough tumor right now. Well, I can’t help but write a little lightly, as I’m kind of an a-hole. Bear with me.
After that, it was mostly downhill. With the reasonably well informed and extremely expert staff (shout out to Providence Medical Center!) doing their best to keep my brains from oozing out of my head, help me ride out some truly epic headaches, and observing me (which I think is code for, “Don’t let him do anything else f**cking stupid.”), the next few days were oddly calm (except for some screaming).
I got sprung Sunday afternoon, too late to catch a friend’s premiere, and too tired for Karaoke, but not dead. Which leads conveniently to the Gratitude:
1. Not Dead
Know all those big plans you made, and all the stuff you saved up just in case? Well, it means bugger all if you’re dead. NOT being so, on the other hand, gives one a useful sense of urgency. As Doctor Johnson said, “The prospect of a hanging in the morning focuses a man’s mind wonderfully”.
If somebody says, “Go to a Doctor” – DO IT. Here’s a list of Stroke Symptoms. Notably, all of mine are on Page 2.
Also, some Stroke Prevention Tips.
On the other hand, some preparations I made Did pay off. Being in awesome shape? Was the difference between two days being “looking sheepish” vs “he’s starting to smell”.
And Yes, I’m also an arrogant idiot. I lost 120 pounds the hard way, and I intend to own it. Especially while Not Dead, did I mention?
OK, I’m reasonably lame (didn’t have to tell y’all that, did I?), but I was extremely shocked to discover that I know 200 people, reasonably intimately. That’s about the comments I got on my updates, and I was really pretty startled to realize that I know who every one of these people is, and most of them really well, and Love the vast majority of them.
So while I still have the ability to be a dumbass for my ownself, I’d rather not let a whole lot of people down.
Most of these amazing souls came into my circle through my worldwide Nia family, or my more local, but similarly awesome Warrior Room family, for whom I am especially grateful. Never doubt the power of shared obsessions.
To say that I’m feeling a sense of urgency is one hell of an understatement. A lot of people have expressed that I was kept here for a reason. Even if that reason is Dumb Luck, I’ll take it.
As a card from my great friend Andrea said (and makes me giggle every time) – “Everything Happens for a Reason. Usually, it’s because Life Sucks.”
Yes, I’m a horrible person. You’ve read this far, so apparently you’re OK with that.
4. Time with my Kid
Not just because I get to stick around longer in the not-dead sense (although that’s nice), but more directly. Providence Medical Center, where I’m being treated, is directly attached to (and grew out of) Providence Child Center, where Camille lives (and has done for the last 18 months). And before you get on That high horse, we’d have been dead of stress by now. If you want details, you’ll have to get around to reading MyWeirdKid.com, as soon as I write it.
So, on two days while I was recovering, one of our wonderful nursing friends rolled Camille up for a visit. Camille got to hang out with daddy, who (a) had several days growth of beard (always a favorite), (b) was a captive audience, (c) was really happy to sing to her. To describe how awesome this was will take a shit-ton more pages.
Friday morning (yes, post stroke; awful, noted) I had a God-awful fight with my wife over who-remembers-what. Needless to say, it didn’t take as long as usual to get our heads out of our posteriors. Cf. idiot, above. And hey, my brain is swollen. Cut me a break.
Let’s not overlook the little things. First off, since they were trying to keep my sodium levels high for brain-leaking-out-of-head prevention, I got to have lots of sodas and chips. Who knew? Second, I have gotten to enjoy treats that I have not had to prepare.
I blog about food over at playwfood.blogspot.com, but I’m super happy to eat something I did not have to make. Andrea’s girlfriend Sara brought some of her Vegan convincingly-cheese and baconesque biscuits, over which I am still having multiple biscuitgasms. People brought cookies (including an oatmeal one that I have to either get or reverse-engineer the recipe for, because my eyes may still not have rolled all the way back). And tonight I had a lovely dinner with my friend Jenny and her Dad, and her son Shaiden (who is too cool for most things, but probably OK with being mentioned in a blog).
Sometimes I think one of my favorite Artists, Brian Andreas nailed it when he said,”There are things you do because they feel right & they may make no sense & they may make no money & it may be the real reason we are here: to love each other & to eat each other’s cooking & say it was good.”
Tonight when I hit that Taiko drum I felt like a whole new guy.
This is for all y’all . . .