We all have things to give thanks to God for each year. I think we will all admit that some years we have to look deeper for the specific details. You know the drill. Sadly, some years our whines want to overwhelm our sense of gratitude and thanks.
In mid-October this year I suffered a brain bleed while sitting with my family at dinner. I had a pain in my neck that suddenly became the headache from hell. Think of an ice pick shoved into your neck and out through an eyeball. Lucky for me, my daughter is a PA in a hospital emergency room. She recognized what was happening and carted me off to the regional hospital trauma center.
What Do They Say About Living in Interesting Times?
Trust me. You do not want to be the most interesting patient in such a place. Apparently, I was.
Picture me lying on a gurney in a hospital hallway in the wee hours with multiple teams of specialists who come a visiting just to see little ol’ me. They putter and poke but provide zero feedback to me. Other than the headache from hell, I was perfectly fine with no other negative neurological effects. Ok. I had a head that felt like a bowling ball was rattling around inside it.
As they say in Young Frankenstein, I was Abby Normal.
I found out days later that most people either die or suffer really bad stroke effects in the first 4 hrs to 2 days after a brain bleed on the outside of the brain. I got lucky. I had no aneurysm, just a small bleed that they never could find the source of. Funny that a small fuzzy patch on a CT scan is responsible for so much personal chaos.
I spent 6 days in the neuroscience ICU. I spent all that time staring at the wall and doing my best impression of a human vegetable. “Hey. Are you alive?” I discovered very quickly that no input was the only way to keep the headache at bay.
My neurologist said not so long ago the medical protocol for cases like mine was to put you in a dark room for 3-4 days and leave you alone. People either survived and recovered or they didn’t. I suggested they consider reviving that protocol. I would have much preferred that to my hospital experience.
Be a Test Monkey
I had an MRI, 4 separate CT scans, a cerebral angioplasty, regular EKGs, multiple daily sonograms of the inside of my skull, and every other heart, brain, and blood test the various interested teams could think of. What fun.
After a week in the ICU, I managed to talk my way out of the hospital. I easily passed the Walking Dead test a couple of times. Yes. He can walk, talk, and chew gum all at the same time. Frankly, there wasn’t much they could do for me except pray along with me that the other shoe did not drop.
However, I didn’t clearly understand the importance of the timing requirements of all of my exit medication. Frankly at that point, I just wanted a single night’ sleep without being poked by a needle somewhere. Having nothing better to do for the first few days in the hospital, I’d counted needle pokes. That count exceeded two hundred jabs in under 48 hours. Ouch.
Apparently that evening, my sodium level crashed. My kids woke me up late in the evening and I was incoherent – I was babbling like a brook. Who knew that a little less salt has such an effect. Back to the hospital for another 5 days.
All told I lost 20+ lbs. I left the hospital feeling like a cripple with about 25% of my usual energy level. Of course, I hadn’t slept for more than 2hrs at a stretch in a couple of weeks. A month later and I am probably back to 75% of my normal energy level, but a haircut the other day totally wiped me out for no apparent reason.
I take life one day at a time. I suppose pretty much because I have to. Eheh.
Reasons to be Thankful
This Thanksgiving weekend I have a whole bunch of reasons to be thankful just to be here: I have a family that cares for me. I have customers who don’t mind that I am not quite so quick to call them back or respond to an email. I’m truly grateful that I still can respond.
I’m thankful and blessed that my mind and body are still fully functional. It could have been very different indeed.
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