On Saturday, the 29th, I was working on my computer when my right arm suddenly went limp and fell in my lap. My first thought was WTH?!? After a couple moments, the feeling returned, along with motor control and dexterity in my fingers. I thought of my spinal cord damage and made a mental note to talk to my neurologist about it. I dismissed it and went back to the task at hand. A couple of minutes later, my phone rang. I saw it was my brother calling and answered.
But when I opened my mouth to say hello, no sound came out. I was shocked and the first stirrings of fear touched me. I took a breath and tried again. A garbled sound came from my lips but NO WORDS.
Luckily, first responder training from all those years working for a safety conscious company kicked in and I knew immediately what was happening. Lynn was saying my name and I tried to make enough noise to let him know I was on the line. I got up, went to wake Jeanie, who was asleep, handed her the phone and tried to say "can't talk".
She was understandably confused; she took the phone and asked the caller what was wrong, presuming that the call was bad news and had upset me so badly I couldn't talk. Lynn tried to explain, sort of, but he was as mystified as she was.
I was by then terrified and knew exactly what was happening. I tried to focus, concentrated on the word with all my will power, spoke slowly and enunciated as carefully as I could one word:
God bless her. Jeanie is a very intelligent woman and that's all it took for her to know instantly what I was trying to convey. It helps too that after so many years we can practically read each others minds and complete each others sentences.
She quickly told Lynn the situation and that she was taking me to the hospital. He promised her he would meet us there and hung up. And then she really got into high gear. Everything started to move pretty fast after that. She helped me dress, put me in the car and I do believe she broke the sound barrier getting me to the emergency room.
ER personnel took me straight into a room, hooked me up to oxygen and a heart monitor and ran a CT scan. After that scan and initial assessment, they called for an ambulance to transport me to the Stroke Center at Memorial in Gulfport. ER personnel there had been alerted I was coming and they were waiting for me when I arrived.
After that, it all kind of runs together in my mind. It was a long night and I spent a great deal of it calm, but scared to death. I do recall a lot of tests, assurances from all my loved ones that everything would be okay, more than a few tears and even some laughter, which occurred when my sisters took full advantage of my inability to retaliate and teased me.
God love 'em. If they can't make me well they will make me laugh.
And the tests all confirmed what I already knew. I had indeed had a stroke. And evidence indicated both sides of my brain were involved. I was admitted and settled into a room and after awhile I fell asleep. I woke a couple of hours later and found Jeanie sitting next to my bed. And when I asked her about my condition, my voice had returned almost completely normal.
And it seems God smiled down on me; there isn't any evidence of permanent damage. None.
So I'm home now. And counting my blessings. And trying not to think about what may have happened if Lynn had not called when he did. The initial event was so unremarkable, so small that until I realized I couldn't speak I had no idea what had happened. And with a stroke, time is of paramount importance.
Everyone involved in my care and treatment has repeated over and over again how lucky I am. They all seem nothing short of amazed that I have no lingering issues and brain damage. And a couple of them came right out and said they were surprised I survived.
So please, do yourself and those you love a favor: familiarize yourself with the symptoms of a stroke.
As they say, the life you save may be your own.