Sneaky, silent, sudden.
You might imagine a hillbilly version of Voldemort hiding behind a door. He’s armed with a cast-iron frying pan. The villain leaping into my path, bashes me in the head with a meaty thwack.
You know, a typical ambush.
Nope, my assailant hid in the right hemisphere of my very own brain. A brain aneurysm, abruptly transformed into a subarachnoid hemorrhage, took me down.
Visiting a hospital gift shop one morning, my vision zigzagged, my bones melted and I crumpled into a helpless puddle. Someone responded to my embarrassed cries for help and whisked me to the emergency room.
A doctor now known to me as Dr. Stupid laughed like a braying mule and sent me off for an angiogram.
“Heart Hiccup,” he later announced, chortling.
Discharged, I huddled in my bed wrestling with the worst headache I’d ever experienced, for five long, internally-bleeding days.
“This is not a normal migraine,” I told my family.
Back to the emergency room. Diagnosis: migraine. Treatment: an appointment with a local neurologist, now known to me as The Witchdoctor or “that smug asshole.”
My son accompanied me and my husband to the appointment.
The witchdoctor looked Gabriel up and down then asked, “How many children do you have?”
“Two.” I answered.
“Why so few?” he chided. “I have ten!” In my slightly fictionalized recollection of this appointment he grabs his crotch for emphasis.
He then took my nineteen year old son into the hall and asked him if I did this sort of thing for attention.
To my husband, he shrugged and said, “Get her a nice massage.”
Luckily we have a friend who is a massage therapist, she is also a registered nurse. Kristi rushed to our house, worked her magic for an hour, then did what nurses do and checked my neck and eyes. “Something else is going on here,” she told my husband. “I suggest you take her back to the hospital and ask them to do a spinal tap.”
One week after I lost consciousness in the hospital gift shop…Back to the ER we went. The spinal tap revealed blood in my spinal fluid. Diagnosis: probable cerebral hemorrhage. Treatment: two hour ambulance ride to nearest hospital with neurosurgeon on call.
This is actually where things begin to go downhill.
Brain surgery…complications…brain surgery…complications…stroke.
According to my neurosurgeon Ninety-nine percent of people like me are dead. Fifteen percent of those die before they reach a hospital.
When people hear this bit of trivia, they say, “Oh, you are such a strong person.”
I didn’t really have anything to do my survival
I didn’t know I was dying.
Most subarachnoid hemorrhages result in rapid massive brain injury, subsequent organ failure and finally, death. When there is no pilot a plane crashes.
I’m still here.
I am told, “God has some purpose for you.”
And I imagine this white haired bearded dude lounging in his cumulonimbus Lazy Boy, thumbing a game controller with supernatural speed.
This is not my God. But I figure it’s theirs.
An Old Testament God with his lightening-tipped finger pointing at my dread-covered head. BAM!
Once again, I really didn’t have much to do with my survival.
After the surgery, I was a stranger to myself, with limited understanding of what had transpired.
All I knew was I’d lost the ability to walk and use my left arm and think in complete thoughts. Even worse, strangers dressed me each day, a large paper bib was tossed over my head at meals of soft food eaten while seated in a wheelchair. They called it rehab, I called it hell. All my personal care, and I mean personal was relegated to overworked emotionally-empty, sometimes angry nursing assistants.
The love of my family was the only thing that compelled me to open my eyes each morning.
It’s been five years and five months since my life took this crazy turn.
My God doesn’t have a plan for me. That would imply God conjured up this entire scenario. My God would never intentionally harm.
Things break, they wear out. After fifty-plus years of 100,000 heartbeats per day, flaws manifest themselves.
In the words of Mr. No-Bad-Talking, dookie happens.
The “why” of this wacky episode doesn’t matter.
Every life contains a smidge of drama.
Today, I close the curtains on my drama.
I’m too busy getting on with my full slightly-tilted life to think about that old news anymore.
I have a vacation, a garden, a craft project, a birthday party, a home-cooked meal, and a new writing topic to plan.
See ya somewhere.