Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Seven years on...

Where magic happens
London, ON
August 2020
This photo originally shared on Instagram

7 years ago today, I had a stroke.

I've written about this jarring experience just about every year since it happened, so there isn't a whole lot left to say about it that I haven't already shared.

In a blink, a few tiny misplaced clots of blood turned my life in a new direction. Lesson learned: The smallest things can have the biggest impact.

I often get asked what it's like. Well, I am now the proud owner of a terrible sense of balance, and I'm dizzy. All. The. Time. When I walk, I often have to fight the feeling that I'm about to melt back into the pavement. I've learned how to deal with it in the day-to-day, almost as a background thing. In other words, I suck it up.

Compared to other stroke survivors, I'm freakishly lucky. I suffered no cognitive or physical impairment, and I still get to do all the stuff I love to do. That's blessed in any language.

I freak out whenever I get a headache, and worry if it's a sign of something worse.

I linger over small things way more intently than is probably healthy. Small joys aren't so small, so I hold onto them especially tightly, sometimes to the annoyance of folks who know me.

I've become very picky about the people I hang out with. Because I'd hate to think I chose to spend precious time with the wrongs when I should have been surrounded by the rights. It isn't mean-spirited: Just pragmatic.

I worry about falling asleep and not waking up. Not so much for me, but for everyone else. Which brings us to my biggest worry:

Something I did has reshaped my wife and kids, and will shadow them indefinitely.

Debbie often waves her hand over me while I sleep to ensure I'm still breathing. Our kids were exposed way too early to the terrifying reality that parents are mortal. That wasn't supposed to happen until they were much older. But "supposed to" isn't ever promised us by the universe, no matter how much we wish it could be.

I blame myself for taking that ride, for choosing that particular route that ended in a construction zone, for not knowing you could tear an artery with a simple shoulder check. If I had played it differently, none of this would have happened. These past seven years are all on me. My fault.

But on balance, I got seven bonus years. I was given the chance to look, hard, at my life and try to be a better person. I should just can the guilt and be thankful.

And so I shall.

About this photo: I was on my bike north of the city when I accidentally tore my left carotid artery and touched off my medical adventure. University Hospital is where some of the best doctors and nurses on the planet gave me back my life. It seemed appropriate to ride back there for a photo. I owe them a lot more than mere pixels, though.

#ldnont #london #ontario #canada #stroke #awareness #university #hospital #cycling #life #apple #iphone #iphone11 #shotoniphone #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #lifeinthemargins #family #health #everything

Related entries:
- So, about that stroke - August 2014
- More stroke stuff... - August 2014
- Coming up on Canada AM - Lookahead to February 2015 interview
- Winding down the day that was - February 2015 - incl link to Canada AM/Heart/Stroke Month segment
- Life at the crossroads - April 2015
- Two years on... - August 2015
- Three bonus years - August 2016
- Four years later - August 2017
- Five years on - August 2018

1 comment:

Elizabeth Wagner said...

Wow! I must admit that the thought of a stroke...well, that's the scary one for me. To lose control of my body, be unable to communicate or move be a burden on my family, I couldn't face it.

Thankfully, your misadventure left you whole and reasonably healthy...a little dizziness in welcome by comparison to what could have been.

So, on this, your 7th anniversary, I raise my glass to you and wish you 7 more and 7 times 7 more years of health, wealth and great happiness for you and your family. Cheers!