Written by Jerry Engler Wednesday, 02 February 2011 01:21
I had a stroke, Tuesday, Jan. 11. I am telling you my experience to warn you if you have similar symptoms.
I was alone for it in a room at the motel in Marion. My family was snowed in at our farm north of Marion Reservoir, and, after a day covering the Marion County Commission on Monday, I hoped to make it to our Free Press staff meeting Wednesday. Tuesday is a day off for me since I work half-time at the paper.
With the snow outside, I was sitting on the bed looking at an old Topper movie with his comic ghosts, not realizing I was in danger of ghost status myself.
I began to have a numbness in my legs, like can happen if you’ve been sitting too long. I stood up to move around. I then realized the numbness wasn’t going away.
I opened the motel door, stood for a moment in the cold to try to revive from a feeling of disconnect, and said hello to the motel owner.
I went back into the room to look at my computer screen typically set to Google News only to realize that with my right eye, I could only see half the screen.
I was in trouble.
I could only see the left side of my cell phone screen. The mind problem had extended to not being able to remember my home telephone number.
I was thinking well enough to hit the previous calls made list on my cell phone, and there was my son, Mark, in Philadelphia, Pa., at the top of the list. I pushed the button for his number and prayed he was home. Thank God he was because most times he’s gone, or has his cell phone shut down because he’s involved with speech therapy graduate work.
Mark realized I was in trouble, and called my daughter, Sheri, back home in Marion County. She called me, realized I was confused, and called an ambulance on another line while she kept me online.
I don’t know why it never occurred to me to ask the motel folks for help. I guess my instinct was to seek my own family.
The kind and caring ambulance crew took me to St. Luke Hospital in Marion, where I learned I needed to be taken to Wichita.
But my wife, Belinda, and Sheri’s family were snowed in at our farm home, and couldn’t get out to take me. They called our church, Eastmoor United Methodist, in Marion, and asked if a volunteer could drive me to Wichita.
Bob Priest, a retired pastor in our church—maybe I should call him a rerouted pastor since he plans a mission trip to Africa—graciously volunteered to take me to Wichita.
I realized somewhere on the trip that I couldn’t think of Bob’s name although I have known him probably for at least 10 years, and I could easily picture all the details of his home with his wife, Judy. I think I asked him at least three times on the trip to tell me his name only to find that for some reason I couldn’t retain it.
I’ve normally been pretty good at remembering names, so it really bothered me to focus on names at church only to realize that I couldn’t remember the name of my good friend, Gary Hett.
When I finally remembered it, I thought I had to be wrong about his last name because it was the same as the last name of my other good friend, Rocky Hett.
Then I realized what a large and diverse family the Hett family is in this county, and began to think of other Hetts I know who are nothing like Gary or Rocky.
It helped me. Please believe me, I’m not trying to pick on the Hetts or be cute. I am using them to illustrate my confusion.
If we meet, and I can’t say your name, please tolerate me, and realize my memories of you are still there. The doctors say the stroke raised a temporary block on this one issue. My mind will reconnect around it—the same as with my other great challenge, my close-up reading eyesight, which is already improved as I write this.
At Wichita, Bob waited until I was admitted to Wesley Medical Center. I underwent tests there until 3 a.m. The doctor told me, with my heart rate going down to 30 beats a minute, then back up to high rates, that I had had a stroke and needed a pacemaker. They needed my signature to go ahead.
My confusion was continuing. My family wasn’t there to help me decide about a pacemaker. I turned them down on getting one. They began the process to send me home the next day.
A male nurse came on his own volition to me, I think maybe even at the behest of God, and told me I might go home OK, but return to them later with another stroke that would put me in a rest home instead of being able to go home.
I signed for the surgery. Two female nurses came in to pray with me, and assure me I had done the right thing. Sadly, I can’t remember their names, but my Lord, Jesus, I know, provided them at the right time until family members finally arrived.
Now, my feet that had been swelling and getting purple mottles on them over the past couple of years have slimmed to healthy pink. The corners of my thumbnails that kept breaking off, so that I was taking calcium-phosphorus supplements to correct them, seem to be growing without breaking.
I lost 10 pounds in my first week, hoping to get down from 272 pounds to 200 pounds or even 190, the weight I was when I finished college.
I’ve exceeded the column length I was supposed to write, folks, but I hope at the current age of 64, that God grants me to still be here at 100.