Last spring, May 26, 2012, my life was changed in just a few seconds. Early in the evening, after a fairly uneventul day, I had a stroke.
It did not seem especially catrostrophic at the time. The symptoms, I am told, were fairly typical. A definite dizziness and disorientation – quite specific, related to an odd feeling in my head. As soon as I felt it happening I felt a certain degree of panic. What was happening to me? Was this it? Was something serious going on?
I had my cell phone close at hand, so I immediately called my son. I didn’t want to alarm him, but I was alone and afraid I might black out. As it turned out I didn’t black out. In fact the dizziness actually passed after a few minutes and I started feeling fairly normal. I remember walking into the kitchen. My son Peter said he would call 911 and find out what to do next. I just waited to see what was going to happen.
As it turned out, Peter called back a few minutes later, and i remember saying that the dizziness and disorientation were back. I was also having a bit of trouble walking normally. I found my way back into the living room and sat down. Peter told me the paramedics were on their way. At the time I didn’t know the normal procedure, but deduced that an advance paramedic was dispatched to size up the situation and put in a call for the next level of emergency service if it was deemed necessary.
The advance guy was there within minutes. He checked me out and came to the conclusion that indeed I was having a stroke, and radioed back to send an ambulance. Within ten or so minutes I was loaded into the ambulance and on my way to the hospital.
At this time I was fully conscious and think I still had some movement in my soon-to-be-paralyzed hand and leg – even after arriving at the hospital. But this movement was all but gone within an hour or so. I didn’t know it at the time, but in those few brief moments of dizziness my world had completely changed and I was about to begin a months-long struggle to regain what most of us just take for granted – the “normal” use of one’s arms and legs.