Mike’s Stroke

Hokey Pokey!

I guess I’ve been spending so much time making sure Mike’s routine was back to normal that I managed to let my own routine stall out. Not that I have a set schedule really, it’s more of a state of mind. But, I did manage to blow off the entire 2nd half of June. Oops.

Well, Mike’s routine is back to normal now — he even rode his bike to work this morning — which means it’s time for me to get off my…sofa, and get to work.

You’d have thought the past couple of weeks prime time for reading, but sadly I didn’t even have the bandwidth for that — hence my lack of “4 Favorites for June.” I did read one interesting book, My Stroke of Insight, by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D., after seeing her amazing TED talk by the same name.

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Jill was a 37 year old neuroanatomist when she had a massive stroke in her left brain which left her as essentially an infant in an adult’s body. The book details the 8 year journey of her recovery and is a very clear description of the right and left hemispheres of the brain and their very different functions and personalities.

Being 72% right brained myself (BuzzFeed tells me so) I was not surprised to learn that my dominant hemisphere is spontaneous and imaginative and perceives each of us as equal members of the human family, all related and necessary to the whole.

Our left brains are where we define ourselves as separate and individual, and where we store our attachments to everything in our lives, both good and bad.

I was surprised to learn that as Jill recovered she chose not to recover certain “attachments” of her left brain. She let go of resentments and anger from her “previous life” which she no longer had any reason to hold on to as they had happened to the other Jill in her other life.

The take away from the book is we can consciously practice “stepping to the right” in our thinking and behavior and unlearn attachments to anger and resentment which are meaningless in the big picture.

Hey! Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

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You put your right brain in,
You take your left brain out,
You put your right brain in,
and you shake it all about.

You do the Hokey Pokey
and you turn your thoughts around.

That’s what it’s all about!!

Turns Out I Married Superman!

My apologies for my absence this week. I have a really good excuse though…turns out I married Superman!

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Yep. That’s Mike in his Cookie Monster pjs in the St. Al’s ICU. Looks pretty good for a guy who had A STROKE just 42 hours before I took this picture doesn’t he? I told you…Superman!

Now that you know this story has a happy ending (and you know how I feel about happy endings!) you probably want to know what happened. And, because Mike’s really NOT into reliving the experience, but he is fine with you knowing all about it, I’m going to tell you as much as I’m able from my perspective — with apologies to our nearest and dearest who have already read what I’m going to share with you now:

We had been working in the yard, putting up some reed fencing along the last portion of chain link fence beside the garage — it was hot and he kept greying out but he didn’t want to stop (of course). After that was done he mowed the lawn including portions of our “meadow” which had gotten too long and started to yellow. When he finished he was bending over to pick up a clump of grass and felt (and heard inside his head) a “pop” like when you pop your knuckle. That pop was his carotid artery dissecting spontaneously (you can google “carotid artery dissection”). He put the lawn mower away and came inside to take a shower, but he was seeing a weird visual affect over his right eye like a dandelion puff or sometimes a mesh-like waffle pattern. He was acting sort of strangely so I kept asking him what he needed and he was getting less and less coherent. He took his shower and had a sandwich and got out his computer and then things happened really fast. First he couldn’t get his left hand to type his password. Then he couldn’t feel his left foot. By now I’m saying “do you need to go to the hospital? Are you having a heart attack? Can you walk?….We ARE going to the hospital!” and somehow I got him into the car — his whole left side was going numb but he was mentally slowing down and sort of observing himself (he told me later) while I was going into hyperdrive. I got him to St. Al’s in 7 minutes.

Once we were at St. Al’s and two men got him out of the car and into the emergency room the ER doc told me he was having a stroke. About 10 people were working on him at once, and after they shaved his chest and wired him up and shot him full of something and whisked him off for a CT scan and I’d been advised of all the probable next steps — major clot busting drugs, possible surgery, etc. — they wheeled him back in — and he was back to his old self. The paralysis in his left side was gone, the slurred speech was gone. It was like nothing had happened.

At this point everybody started shaking their heads and saying things like “fluke” and “lucky” and “never seen this before” and “you’ll be very interesting to the doctors on their rounds” and nobody actually said “miracle,” but that’s what I’m thinking.

Mike spent 48 hours in ICU, then they moved him to the medical ward on the third day and he was released because he’s willing to administer his own blood thinner injections until he can rely on the Coumadin alone to keep his blood at the proper thickness that will not form clots. Besides taking the meds he is not allowed to lift anything heavier than 5 lbs. for the next 3 months. Everything, except for Lula, weighs more than 5 lbs.

He’s going to rest through the weekend and then play it by ear next week, but probably not ride his bike in until the week after. He’s mostly tired now, and a little paranoid — when your body does something spontaneously like split an artery and the doctors can find no reason why it happened you wonder when the next bizarre thing is going to happen.

As I write this it is “the weekend” and Mike is feeling better and better. His energy is coming back and with it the desire to lift heavy things and leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Not going to happen.

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Lucky for him, his choice of mates was equally…super!