OK, so my life goes like this: I’m putting up my Christmas lights on a rainy day and I feel a shock in my hand, so I throw the string of lights into the street to save myself from total elimination from the face of the earth.
Then a neighbor comes out, a very nice neighbor, a young lady who has offered in the past to help me hang my Christmas lights. And so she gets in her truck, and says to me, “I wish I could come help you today but I’m going to this Christmas party.”
I tried to think of a witty comeback (like “Be nice to Santa” or “Stay away from the cheese plate”), but I couldn’t think of anything to say, and my speech was slurred so it sounded like I was totally wasted–even on a Sunday –and I lamed out, “Well I hope you have a happy time.” (But it sounded more like , “Wool I ho’ oo haa’ uh ‘appy tie!”)
I ran into the house where my wife was hanging ornaments (in the warmth of our hearth and home) and in my slurred speech said to her, “I don’ kno’ hut’s ‘ong wit’ me buh I feel ‘ike I’m habbing a stoke. “ ‘K aaa’ my han’s timblin’ an’ my mou’ is doopt , an’ I can’ tink clearly.”
She of infinite patience with all creatures except me, snapped, “SNAP OUT OF IT!!!!!!” I have learned that obedience is the quickest way to resolve conflict, so I snapped out of it.
The rest of the evening seemed to go okay as I ignored the tremors the numbness, and under a comforter, watched “Downton Abbey.”
I ignored those physical annoyances for two or three weeks while Linda decided I just needed to hurry up when I was walking because I was falling behind every human on the earth, including snails.
With her hand nudging my lumbars, she whispered, “Snap out of it!!!” Three weeks later, when I was still tripping over every rug in our house a dozen times, falling down the stairs or up the stairs a half dozen times, unable to hold my fork (which is very important to me), unable to tie my shoes or button my shirt, and I knew I was never going to snap out of it on my own, I called my neurologist, Dr. H. Urryup, and he said, “get thee to an emergency room!”
You all know about emergency rooms–bleeding people everywhere, small children screaming for their mommies. Selfishly beyond hope, I wanted my wife to say to every one of them, “Snap out of it.”
I walked straight to the admission window and without hesitation, said, “I think I’m having a stroke.” The kind lady whisked me around the partition instantly, told me to sit, which I did willingly and began to ask me pop quiz questions, like, “What is your birthday? What day is it today? What planet are we on? Who is that woman sitting next to you?” I was able to answer all those questions fairly quickly.
But when she asked me, “Who is the president of the United States?” I did not know the answer. I sat there like a Republican. “Is it Bush? No it’s not Bush…it’s that other guy.” This went on for 10 seconds. I was as mute as the current Congress.
(I’ll speed up now)
CT scans, MRI’s, misdiagnoses TWICE, boards of neurologists and oncologists forming to discuss my “quite complicated case,” unbelievably sleepless nights, shots…IV’s…pin pricks…blood tests constantly, I had pretty much decided to snap out of it and go home to my own bed.
And today I’m back in the classroom where I love to be, looking forward, NOT backward—forward is so much more restful. AAAAAHH!