‘I will be back’
There is no doubt that I have learned a lot about myself and many other things during the course of the past two weeks. As is almost always the case, everything started out innocently enough. I hadn’t felt good the weekend of May 22-23, yet but by Monday I was feeling better and assumed that everything was OK. I went to the YMCA for my normal 30-minute workout, and when Jean and I returned, we began pruning trees.
It was then that I discovered that I wasn’t standing very well. In fact, I was staggering around much like a drunk. But when I sat down, I began feeling better. But Jean, being wiser than I, insisted that I call the doctor. I made a Tuesday afternoon appointment, so I could attend my normal meetings and do the things I needed to do. Yet shortly after that I began to feel dizzy, and Jean insisted that I go directly to the doctor.
After a short visit in his office, I was sent to Providence Medical Center for tests. The thought was that I may have had a heat stroke. All of my tests came out negative, so I assumed that I would go home on Tuesday morning. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. By noon on Tuesday, I was unable to write my name, and it wasn’t long until my entire right side was effected.
A new battery of tests was ordered, and I endured more poking and prodding for numerous blood draws and my second MRI in two days. My doctors were puzzled, and I was beginning to worry. A second MRI confirmed my worst fears. I was having a stroke.
Me, have a stroke? Impossible. I’m indestructible. After all, I hadn’t been a patient in a hospital since age 5 when I was there for a tonsillectomy. I hadn’t missed a day of work in my entire career, and other than a touch of asthma, I’ve always been blessed with excellent health. But now I was facing the fact that I was indeed human. Unfortunately, the newest MRI showed that a vessel tinier than a strand of hair had caused some damage that was changing my world.
The doctor told me that I had suffered a small vessel stroke. I couldn’t raise my right arm or leg and sometimes my speech was slurred. I was thinking that if this is a small stroke, what’s a big one like? I also thought about how quickly your life can change. I started out healthy, happy and looking forward to many activities, and then I was facing major rehabilitation.
I learned many things that week. I learned how important all bodily functions are. I couldn’t stand up, I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t brush my teeth or shave. I couldn’t enjoy my morning cup of coffee or read my morning newspaper because I couldn’t turn the pages. I learned about physical therapy — people had to help me stand up, sit down and go to the bathroom. I learned to exercise differently and to work through new sensations.
The thing I’ve hated most, though, is being inactive. I’ve never enjoyed sitting, and I’m not big on watching TV. Yet I spent a lot of time searching for anything that might interest me.
Yet despite my situation, I did try to stay positive and to be thankful for those who have helped me. Most of all, I want to thank the many people who have contacted me or my family to wish me well. I also want to thank those who have cared for me and to add that I have great respect for Providence Medical Center and the professionalism of its staff. I am also deeply appreciative of all of my doctors — in particular, our family physician — who have gone out of their way to help me feel better and understand what has happened to my body. I’m also thankful for my wife, Jean, who has earned the title “The Good Wife,” and my daughters and their families. By the time this is published, I will be in intensive physical therapy. I have been told it’s boot camp, but I will work as hard as I can and approach these new challenges with every ounce of energy that I have.
Make no mistake, though, I will be back.