As of the 17th, it will have been four years since the night I suffered a cerebral vascular accident (stroke). Every year about this time I think back on that day. I remember the visitors I had and how while showing them around my farm I started losing words as I spoke. I remember after they left sitting down to a quiet dinner and then having the whole right side of my body stiffening up and me grabbing the bottle of aspirin on the coffee table and chewing up several of them (which I learned later is not recommended). After several minutes I also remember the ‘paralysis’ on my right side easing.
As the ability to move my limbs returned, I was overcome by a feeling of exhaustion. I wanted to lay down and go to sleep, but was afraid to do so. After I regained some of my energy I called the hospital to see if what had happened to me needed to be followed up with. The nurse I spoke with told me I needed to go to the hospital. I didn’t notice it at the time, but my facial features on the right side of my face were sagging.
I told the nurse I would try to find my keys and if I did I would drive to the hospital. I was advised not to go to the hospital by myself, but I was at home alone. After a few minutes of looking for my keys, several emergency vehicles pulled up our lane to the house. The nurse I spoke to had called for emergency services in my county.
I was forced to go to the local hospital in an ambulance by a deputy and a couple EMT’s. I told the cop and the EMT’s that I could not pay for a ride to the hospital via ambulance, but they still forced me to go. The emergency room put me through a CAT scan and some other tests. I was suffering from aphasia (loss of words) and was having some trouble communicating. The doctor called the VA hospital and was told that they did not have any neurological staff on duty and asked if I could be put up at the local hospital until I could be seen by a neurologist the next day. The local hospital didn’t have any empty beds so they discharged me at 3:00 AM with instructions to go to the VA hospital in the morning.
I was seven miles from home at 3:00 in the morning with no way to get home. One of the nurses on duty knew a neighbor of mine and called her to see if she would give me a ride home. The neighbor woke her children up, put them in the van and came to get me. I was grateful to the neighbor, but also agitated that the county employees put me in this position to be a burden on a neighbor.
On the 18th I drove the 60 miles to the VA Hospital by myself and was seen by a neurologist. After reviewing my CAT scan and having me do different activities with my eyes closed, the doctor told me that I had in fact suffered from a CVA. She remarked though that I was a rarity because the results showed that my left brain controls the left side of my body and my right brain the right.
The aphasia, through forcing myself to remember, has faded into the shadowy recesses of my brain and rarely shows itself anymore. What was God’s purpose for putting me through this? I can’t say for sure, but I would guess it might be to tell me to slow down and not take things for granted. Anyway, in eight more days I will celebrate what I consider a birthday of sorts.