Four weeks ago, I had my right knee replaced, which was six weeks later than originally planned, but welcomed nonetheless-or so I thought. I was tired of the pain and was certain all would go well.
In hindsight, I should have known better. But given the times, I think it was oddly appropriate. I don’t know why. As a matter of fact, I don’t know why I thought any of it would go any particular way other than I thought it should.
None of that makes any sense, but I’m getting ahead of myself, and this doesn’t have anything to do, really, with the knee operation other than it was a step on the way.
On a Thursday night, I was brushing my teeth. I rinsed my mouth and dropped the glass into the sink. I thought that was odd. I picked up the glass and set it on the counter. I picked up my toothbrush, or tried to, and knocked it on the floor. Again, odd. I reached down to pick up the toothbrush and fell in the bathtub.
I was certain my wife would think something was up!
I tried to get out of the tub, but could not.
My wife came in, took one look at me and said: “You’re having a stroke.”
I’m going to say here and now that I had no interest whatsoever in having a stroke. It’s not on any bucket list-not that I keep things like that-and can lead to terrible life altering changes. I insisted I was not having a stroke. My wife ignored me and called 911.
The medics arrived post haste, agreed with my wife and radioed to the hospital that they had a stroke case on the way. The hospital, Evergreen Medical Center, having already initiated a stroke program was ready for me. It was off to the Cat-scan, where they found the clot blocking blood flow to the left side of my brain, then to the cath lab, where they removed the clot on the first try, thus restoring flow and saving me from the death of a good portion of my brain.
I, of course, was mostly ignorant of what was going on. What I remember are moments: the medics taking me to the aid car; the ED doctor telling me I was headed for the cath lab, and the ICU nurse asking me questions and having me squeeze her fingers, which I did.
All of this occurred over the course of 4 hours. It’s the reason I made a complete recovery, much to the delight of everyone involved. I’m a success story. Everything that could go right, did. Everything you’re taught or asked to do when a stroke is suspected, happened.
I’m proof it works.
And I’m eternally grateful. It wasn’t till a day or so later when the enormity of what could have gone wrong hit me. I could have suffered severe brain damage had this occurred a few hours later after I’d gone to sleep-I was sleeping upstairs and my wife downstairs because of my limited mobility after the knee operation-and was not found till morning. My life would have been irrevocably changed.
Instead, it was simply a moment to me-weird as that sounds, and as much as I know it happened and was real, I struggle with its reality.
So to a certain degree, it still feels as if it were some kind of dream or out of body experience. Perhaps fortunately, this is mitigated by all the follow up visits I’ve been making to neurologists, cardiologists, hematologists, generals, and orthopedists that make it all too real.
And so, life goes on.
I know this because my knee still hurts.
©2020 David William Pearce