The column this week is, by necessity, a joint effort between Loretta and me. It is apt to stay that way for the foreseeable future. I will be dictating the copy as I sit shoulder to shoulder to my honey as she does all the heavy lifting involving the computer because I am physically unable to do much of anything other than run my mouth. Loretta says that I should be thankful that I can still do that!
Early last Friday morning I was lying in bed reading, and had the sensation that my left arm had gone to sleep. When I attempted to move it the arm assumed a life of its own. It began slapping me in the face and convulsing wildly in every direction. In the meantime my mouth felt like it wanted to be in the general vicinity of my left ear and was making every effort to get there. My tongue began flapping around and I experienced what I can only describe as a metallic taste sensation.
Somehow I retained sense enough to gouge Loretta awake and slur out: Stroke!!
The next several hours are still a mental blur. I recall the EMTs’ arrival and being loaded in the ambulance. I recall the sound of a siren overhead and the feeling of near terror that the gurney that I was strapped to was going to overturn as the vehicle negotiated the curves on twisty Highway 21 between Paint Lick and Berea. And I remember the cold air that hit me between the ambulance and the hasty entrance into the emergency room at Saint Joseph Hospital in Berea.
I remember the absolute and total feeling of relief when I noticed Loretta finally standing beside me. I also remember the feeling of sheer terror upon discovering that I couldn’t move my arm, my hand, or even wiggle my thumb or fingers. I remember daughter Jennifer and grandson Tyler standing there and I wondered if I was dreaming.
I remember the ER doctor insisting that they had to get me to Lexington. I remember watching the hours crawl by as she waited for a room to open up in the neurological ward of St. Joe’s, Lexington, another rush of cold air as they loaded me into yet another ambulance that dashed me up I-75 with Loretta hot on our heels.
I remember more cold air and being wheeled directly to an elevator and deposited into room 544 at St. Joe’s. I was impressed that the EMTs already knew which room they were going to and exactly how to get there.
Obviously this is just the beginning of a much, much longer story, but it is all we have space for here this week. Either Loretta or good friend Bryan Crawford will be my good left arm in future weeks as the story unfolds. In the meantime, I am oh so lucky to be alive and able to tell it.