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Patrick Q.



This is an excerpt from the book I hope to get published soon


So this architect walks in the room with a bowl of high-fiber cereal, skim milk, a banana and a glass of orange juice. It is 8:30 a.m., and he is already finished with his morning 15 mile bike ride, and shower. The only thing missing from this-take-care-of-yourself-meal is red wine and a bowl of broccoli. The southpaw begins feeding his face but midway through the bowl of cereal, can't quite manage to get the spoon to his mouth. He stands up to protest and realizes that he has a similar problem with his left leg - not to say that he wanted to get his foot to his mouth! He releases a few profanities and puts his weight on the heel of his dominant left hand, which promptly collapses so his head bangs the hardwood table. Not to be fooled, the architect eases down to the floor with a soft landing to preclude any further head banging. Still unknown to him, he will spend the entire day on that floor hungry, in fact, because he never finished his cereal. Hunger, however will not be his biggest challenge. It is a cool October day and the house is chilling down in lockstep with the outside temperature. Having loaded up on milk, orange juice, and of course an obligatory mug of coffee not to mention a bottle of water while riding, he soon realizes that peeing would become a high priority by 5:30 p.m. when the architect's wife comes home. He will have relieved himself three times and would be convulsing in icy shivers as his frantic wife rounded up dry pants. They waited for the ambulance. The architect, having long since overcome hours of denial, figured out that he had had a stroke that morning. And the long-awaited answer to the question of "how many architects it takes to screw up a breakfast?" is, apparently, one.


I cannot slip beneath the waves until I give my burdened wife one more "thank you". When my self passed five years past, the paramedics kidded along with me, as they gurneyed me down the steps after I answered all the questions, still shivering from having wet myself that day. As I lay on the floor. I could only tell my wife "I'm sorry." I lay there, guilty as any Christian fed to the lion and later listened to the wailing and rackety tack of the ambulance as it sped to the hospital and I could only think to apologize for all the changes I knew this would bring to our lives. I was already carrying the burden of Catholic guilt for not consulting before collapsing. She is the saint. I would be the sinner. I had had the day to consider the theft of my leftyness, the end of my architectness, I knew, somehow already, a farewell to my job was bobbing on the horizon. I was righter than I have ever been, as I left home, shoved off in my dinghy for this endless poky drift across an ocean.

Sainted, too, are the therapists and doctors and their endless pushing - Linda, Cassandra, Colleen, Kari 1, Kari2, Kathy, Mo (Larry and Curly, just kidding), Jay, Evan, Josie, Joyce, Cheryl, Val, Ryan, Rebecca, Krista, Gail, and others whose names I have forgotten. For all the stretching, waking and reminders ad nauseum of "proximal first, distal next." I heard about sublexation and spasticity till blue in the face. I stretched till it hurt for two and three hours a day. The strange thing of it was that they never gave up. Then one day, I straightened out my left leg, stood and walked across the room with a white knuckle grip on a cane. It was the home run of my life. Several months later, I would watch my grandson, win his own ball game and take his first precarious steps. As he slowly learned to run across the hardwood floor with his Nike-clad feet slapping happily in triumph I cheered for reasons unknown to him. Someday we'll explain it.

Let me not forget my sons who have appeared magically when the snow falls or the door breaks or my wife and I hatch a plan for the next house project.

I also need to deliver a thank you to the ubiquitous and anonymous strangers, who always seem to appear when I'm struggling to find the sleeve of my coat or cross a street, open a door, or float across the ice. This experience has been a lesson in giving and receiving. I have never yet been in a situation when I needed help and there wasn't someone murmuring, "You look like you could use some help here." I have done my best to thank them on the spot, especially the kids who aren't always cognizant of the true value of a helping hand-as I too have had to learn.

Our neighbors who have shoveled or helped us recycle or sent over cookies have all received their halos here on earth. They are testimony to the kindness that bursts forth from nowhere and runs like an ocean trade current.


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Display of the Faces of Stroke stories does not imply National Stroke Association's endorsement of any product, treatment, service or entity. National Stroke Association strongly recommends that people ask a healthcare professional about diagnosis and treatment questions before using any product, treatment or service. The views expressed through the stories reflect those of the authors and do not reflect the opinion of National Stroke Association.

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