A WEEK OF DESPAIR, A WEEK OF HOPE
By now it is well known that I had a life altering medical event on Valentine’s Day. We had just concluded our session, with two bills in final action when I felt ill. In talking to my seat mate, I noticed that I was slurring my words and I told her I would skip the afternoon committee and go home to rest. TerriLois Gregory would have none of that, she asked me to stick out my tongue and when it came out tilting to the left she insisted to call the Doctor of the House. Ten minutes later I found myself at the Stormont Vail Hospital Emergency Room, bewildered and somewhat amused over the fuss everybody seemed to make over a slight indisposition. After all, I was feeling no pain, my extremities were working fine, and the slur only forced listeners to listen more closely. Within minutes I had 2 Cat-Scans and an MRI and the verdict was clear I was suffering a stroke. When someone suggested a priest might be called, my amusement vanished.
Stormont Vail is a large Hospital and a Certified Stroke Center. I was MOST impressed with the professional care I received. There is one RN for every 4 stroke patients who are constantly monitored and attended to. Good thing in my case because in the next 24 hours I lost use of my left leg and arm entirely.
Tuesday and Wednesday were low points. It all happened so fast that facing life totally disabled made me feel despair, but then I remembered how lucky I had been, sitting next to caring friend who may well have saved my life. Being in the right place for treatment and getting timely help minimized the damage I could have suffered. Indeed, I found reason to be grateful for the last few years. I included in my prayers the thoughts of Dr. Samuel Johnson, the great philosopher and apologist who asked God that with all his afflictions he might retain his understanding. I have been heard and have retained my mental faculties. I had to prove it to the therapists who tested me for hours. This may not impress everyone; some may maintain I’m as misguided as ever!!
ONE SILLY MILLIMETER
….made a lot of difference. Had my occlusion occurred in a different place, the outcome would have been disastrous – even fatal. I was informed that the problem was located in a very bad spot, low and close to the brain stem and only a small change in location could have been much worse. More good luck in adversity.
I am humbled and grateful by the response I received from so many people. Flowers, get well cards, and assurances of keeping me in their prayers have come from colleagues, constituents and many others. I cannot adequately express my heartfelt appreciation as I feel the care, concern and human kindness from so many. Thank you all so very much, but please no more flowers, I usually give them to the nurses who’ve helped me so much.
TerriLois Gregory had been my aide for six years. She is an ambitious, intelligent and most industrious personality, who usually worked three or more jobs. I saw early that she was not fulfilled professionally and that she had more to give. When she moved to Baldwin City I tried to persuade her to run for the House. As always she prayed over the decision and I’m glad she got the right response from God and the voters of the 10th District. No one worked harder campaigning; she lost 45 pounds going door to door and she beat an “unbeatable” incumbent. She has found her calling and she hit the ground running, leadership has an eye on her.
I’m much beholden to her. She is a true friend and she will make a great legislator. Her knowing that a tongue sticking out the wrong way changed my life and I’m most grateful.
I’m in MidAmerica Rehabilitation Hospital and expect to remain a few days or weeks until maximal recovery. I’m making (slow) progress and I’m impatient to get back to work. The timing of the stroke was unfortunate but in the last few days I’ve been filled in by my colleagues on current events. With the large majority in the House, my absence is not much hurting our programs and I advised the Speaker that in a close vote my wife would wheel me into the chamber. I don’t think that this will be necessary but I surely will prevent a one vote margin to get us bad legislation as it did with the sales tax increase last year.