November got off to a bad start at our house. I was on my way to Richmond when I got a funny feeling in the left side of my face. I found out later it was what they call a transient ischemic attack, or TIA. It’s a type of mini-stroke, I’m told. I’d heard of them before, but I’m pretty sure I’d never had one before.
At any rate, I wound up feeling better in a short while, and continued on to my scheduled interview with a local reporter. In the course of our meeting, I had a couple more TIA’s, at least that’s what the doctor said, culminating with a full blown stroke as the grand finale.
I kind of lost track of things after that. I regained consciousness long enough to realize that a bunch of guys had removed my pants and boots, and were in the process of cutting my shirt off. I also noticed Rachel the reporter had turned her back on the proceedings. I’m not sure if she did it for my benefit or her own, but I remember thinking I sure was proud that I had taken Mom’s long standing advice and taken the time to put on clean underwear before I left home.
I came to again with somebody yelling “Stay with me buddy” in my face. I couldn’t really answer him, but I do remember thinking “Hey, you took my pants and my wallet, you cut off my shirt, and I’m strapped to a gurney in the back of an ambulance in my underwear somewhere in Richmond. Just where would I be going?”
When I arrived at Reid Hospital, they ran some tests, and called a helicopter to take me to another hospital in Indianapolis. When the pilot asked me if I had ever ridden in a helicopter before, I told him 50 years ago I rode in one at Canal Days in Cambridge City for 10 bucks. He said this ride would probably cost a little more than that. I hoped the reason it was going to be more expensive would be because this helicopter was a little bigger and had a heater, because it was becoming apparent to me that I was going to fly from Richmond to Indianapolis on November 3rd in my underwear.
The hospital I landed in was IU Methodist close to downtown Indy. When we arrived there they put me in the intensive care unit, and cut off the rest of my underwear. I tried to tell them it was probably my best pair, and that I had put on special for today, but I had lost my voice by that time, and besides, everybody seemed to busy sticking stickers on me and hooking wires to them to be concerned about my underwear. I was later able to get a note from one of the nurses verifying the condition of my late briefs, so at least I have that for Mom, even if I am short a pair of shorts.
They had a lot of doctors in that hospital. They came into my room a lot. There were brain doctors and brain surgeons, heart doctors and heart surgeons. They all seemed to know what they were doing, but I was awfully disappointed that none of them knew where they were, or even what day it was. They asked me every time they came in. I didn’t really mind telling them every day (some of them I had to tell twice a day), but I thought surely somebody would remember at least once in a while, them being doctors and all. I think they appreciated my help, because they asked me when my birthday was. I told them it was March 12th, and figured they would probably get me something nice, but then I realized they probably wouldn’t remember when my birthday was either.
I guess a hospital is a good place to be if you need to be there, but I wasn’t overly happy about all the tubes and hoses sticking out of places that weren’t really meant to have tubes and hoses sticking out of them. It was flattering, though, to have so many people suddenly interested in my bodily functions. Even passing gas brought reactions of encouragement and approval, although now that I am home, my wife Susan’s enthusiasm for it seems to have waned a bit.
Still, I think there were some good things that have come out of this experience so far. I was lucky or blessed to be where I was when it happened. If I had been at home alone I probably would just have laid down to let it pass. I rediscovered how wonderful our community, my friends and family are when you need them. My sister-in-law reflected on my incident, and went out and bought my brother-in-law all new underwear, just in case. So we have that.
I think I’m getting along pretty well now, doing therapy at home and at the therapy place. I still don’t have very good balance, and I can’t swallow or talk very well, and I missed out on two Thanksgiving dinners, but other than that, I think it’s going to work out.
So thanks for all the thoughts and prayers, and to all of you who manage to keep society rolling along when some of us take a break. Hopefully in a couple of weeks I can come back and tell you that everything worked out fine.