It has been almost 15 years since my stroke, so you would think that, by now, I would be readily prepared for everything that life can throw my way; but, I often forget what it's like to have a simple head cold after my stroke. Now, understand, I am not suggesting that other people don't feel bad when they have a cold; it is just that it is different for a stroke survivor. Maybe some of the other stroke survivors feel the same way: many times when I get a head cold with the congestion, suffy nose, fever, etc., it begins to feel like I'm having a stroke again. For those who don't know what this is like, let me try to explain. I get up at night, whether to go to the bathroom or some other reason, and I feel completely disoriented for a few seconds. Not like I'm groggy, but that I feel the room is spinning, I can't tell which direction I am going, I forget where the bathroom is for an instant, things like that. On the first day of this last cold, I was going down some stairs, and suddenly I became disoriented again, and I leaned to the left, the poblem is that I am in a stairway, so the only thing next to me is a wall, so I bounce off that wall. What is the natural reaction? I stumble to the other wall and bounce off that one...problem: I'm on stairs, so stumbling can have a disastrous result! Fortunately, unlike when I had the stroke, these moments of being disoriented only last a few seconds, and then I am back. But, it is scary for someone who has suffered a stroke of any type. The thinking person would say, "Hey, it's been 15 years...you should be over that by now..." Ummmmm....no. Again, please understand that I am not suggesting that other people don't feel bad whn they have a cold; but, man, it can be bad for someone who has had a stroke! Yesterday, at church, I was talking to someone and actually had to say the words to them..."I am sorry, but I am really having a problem putting words together today." Do you know how embarrassing that is for a pastor to say to someone? I feel so good for where I am compared to where I could be, but, sometimes I am just reminded that, yes, I did suffer a stroke, and, yes, I am still going to have problems because of it!
On December 8, 2008, my life changed forever. I had a double sided cerebellar stroke with 2 brain stem compressions. It was not until December 10, 40 hours after my stroke, that surgery was finally done to relieve the pressure. Dr. Piper, the neuro-surgeon from Iowa Methodist hospital in Des Moines, told my wife that surgery was nothing more than an attempt to save my life, but that it would not erase the deficiencies as a result of the stroke. Although she admits that she did not really understand what Dr. Piper had just said, my wife, Laura, agreed to the surgery and the care team performed a decrompessive craniotomy, to hopefully relieve the pressure and allow my brain to function somewhat normally. For those who have followed my blog for the last 14+ years, the surgery was successful, I returned to the church and I now live a relatively normal life, although I do have some pretty severe, though not always visible, defieciencies. I really thought that life could not get any worse th