1 ̶ The Incident
I am now officially a senior.
I knew I was getting older, but in my mind, I was never there yet.
Until recently, I could read a blue streak, write a decent paragraph, solve a mess of cryptograms without cheating, rake up a yardful of dead leaves, and power-walk three kilometres in my bare feet on sharp stones. (Okay, there’s one little white lie in there.) Several weeks ago, that all changed. They have yanked my driver’s licence. I have to bum rides. Now I’m a senior.
I’ll tell you what happened. I never saw it coming. I had a stroke.
On Wednesday, April 26, after Olga and I finished supper, I retired upstairs to watch tv. I often left Olga alone, sometimes for hours, as I worked on the computer or watched a program. All of a sudden I felt different. I couldn’t adjust the set. It was too much of an effort. When I got up, I found I couldn’t walk properly. I couldn;t speak. Over the course of an hour and a half, I fell several times as my legs failed to support me. I managed to climb to the third storey with intention of turning off my computer, but I couldn’t find the switch. My right arm lost all feeling; it became detached from my trunk. I couldn’t find my right arm. I left the computer and the lights on as I collapsed down one flight of stairs. My legs wouldn’t work; I couldn’t grasp the handrail because I had lost the one arm.
Somehow, I still don’t know how, I switched off most lights. Feeling returned to my right arm. I edged down one more set of stairs. It felt too far to trudge to the living room to let Olga know I had problem ̶ not that I could speak anyway. I ducked into the bedroom.
I stripped down to the flesh. I had to clean up. Somewhere en route I had voided my bowels. I sponged myself off, tucked the dirty laundry in the washer. I slept very well.
Next morning, I felt pretty normal, but Olga sensed something was wrong. There were evidences of my accidental discharges. I could speak but I couldn’t articulate what had happened to me. All day we weathered ice-storm conditions, so even if I felt like frolicking, I couldn’t. We rarely have visitors, for we live in the country. My memory of that day is hazy, but I must have read and watched tv.
Next day, Friday, Olga was getting really worried about me. I myself knew that something extraordinary had occurred. She suggested I go to the Emergency. I didn’t think it wise to drive myself, 30 minutes away, and Olga no longer drives. Finally I found words to describe my condition. I had been trying for a day and a half to find the words. I blurted them out: “Heart attack!”, I said. The wrong words, as it turned out.
I couldn’t find the word “stroke” in my vocabulary. I called our son, Rob, who had finished his work week. He lives three hours away. He had some errands to run but he came as quickly as he could. I took along an overnight bag and my meds.
The weather was still miserable.