It was 1:10 a.m. Tuesday morning, June 21, when I got into bed. Sally was getting ready to come to bed. She joined me and I rolled over to give her a good night kiss.
"You've had a hard day," I said.
Suddenly I felt as though my legs had gone to sleep. I tried to get to the edge of the bed where I could stand to get relief. As I reached the edge of the bed, I lost control of my muscular action and slid onto the floor.
I felt as if a wave or a force of some sort had gone through my body instantaneously.
I cried out to Sally that something was wrong. She said later that she could not understand the words I was saying. I thought I was saying, "I think it is a stroke. We need to call 911." It was clear in my mind.
She was thinking the same thing and dialed 911.
The ambulance arrived seven minutes later. The EMTs quickly assessed the situation and determined they would need two more people to help move me down our narrow, winding stairs. A second ambulance arrived. The four EMTs comfortably and professionally moved me down the stairs and directly to Trumbull Memorial Hospital.
After about an hour and a half of testing and observation, during which I felt no pain, I was sent by helicopter to Cleveland Clinic. The ride was noisy but reasonably comfortable. The attendants paid close attention to me and I could see scattered lights out the windows. It was an interesting adventure, though I'd rather have had it some other way.
In the meantime, Sally was driving through the night, repeatedly dialing our son to tell him what was happening. He finally woke to hear the phone and swiftly dressed and sped up the road to Cleveland, where we all met in the clinic emergency room.
A short time later, our daughter-in-law, who is a nurse at the clinic, joined us there, too. It was comforting to have her special knowledge in addition to that of the staff who were attending to me.
During the next couple of days, I received a myriad of tests, including an MRI, a CT scan and a sonogram. We consulted with neurologists daily.
Although I intended to participate in my own recuperation as much as possible, I found myself questioning, suspicious and noncompliant when it came to an electroencephalogram with dozens of attachments to my scalp. It seemed like voodoo to me.
The symptoms I was apparently faced with included distortion of my speech, temporary double vision, loss of function of my right hand, arm, leg and foot, and temporary aphasia. The diagnosis was lacunar stroke. That meant clots in tiny vessels deep in my brain.
Sally slept in a chair in my room the whole time I was at the clinic. During the long nights of fitful sleep, she was beside me. Her comforting reassurance and prayers were vital to my progress.
Sometime during the second or third day at the clinic, I became profoundly depressed, cried and felt sorry for myself. "Life won't be worth living. I have no future."
These things went through my mind over and over again until finally I came to the conclusion that I would end this despondency and fight the best I could to overcome this challenge. I was determined to put on a happy face. It would be simple enough to say, "Hi, hello, good morning," to the people I met in the hallways rather than to pass these strangers by unrecognized.
As I am moving through the rest of my recovery, with the help of family, church members and friends, I have fortunately been able to maintain a positive outlook toward the future.
From that first ambulance ride in June to the present, I have had rehabilitation as an in-patient, an out-patient and at home with Hillside Hospital, Lake Vista Rehab Center and Senior Independence home therapy. We are fortunate to have these professional people and services in our community and the resources necessary to support them.
I thank them all for keeping me on the road to recovery.