Friday, January 30, 2009

another domino

I had a massive bleed to the left parietal lobe of my brain, I would later learn what that meant, but when in the emergency room I was a critically ill patient.  The nurses and doctors and police officers were talking about all my injuries. I must have looked frightful because one of the policemen took pictures. I remember thinking "this can't be good."   
A nurse was asking me if I understood where I was. 
I wanted to say, "you mean, you don't know? Get me out of here!" 
But I couldn't talk. 
A young policeman talked to the nurses about me. I remember thinking that I could tell him there was nothing wrong with me... except, of course, that I was uncoordinated... and, oh yes, I had a bleed in my brain.
The nurses were great! They talked me like I was a person; they talked to me as if there was nothing wrong; they talked TO me. I had yet to learn that not having a voice, a literal voice, was scarier than being paralyzed.  

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Facebook has enabled me to connect with many friends -- new and old. It is a good way for me to connect with people given how difficult it is for me to type and talk now.  But, I must admit that I much prefer to talk.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

when the domino falls

When one domino falls, they all fall.  I was in intensive care now. Not working as professor, not working on my "stuff", not working... In one ironic twist of fate I became a domino. I had fallen and I couldn't get up. I was a patient now. For a control freak like me that was a serious concern. Who make sense of things? Who would take care of my dogs? Who would take care of my house, my car, my students, etc.?  My identity changed when the domino fell. 

I HAD been an associate professor teaching visual communication at the University of Nevada, Reno. I had many colleagues around the world who valued my work. I had a book that I was about to finish. I had a column to write for a research journal.  And a research paper that I had finish. Oh, and several places to go in the next few weeks to interview. I was in throes of seeking tenure and I was not at all certain I could survive the politics. Like any good lemming I was determined to scurry so if all else failed I would survive.  This was right after Thanksgiving.  I just had to make it until the first part of January... 

Thursday, January 22, 2009

blog, blog, blog

The thing about this form of communication it's really never finished ... like real-world conversations about politics, the free-falling economic crisis, or sex ... one can never say enough, unless of course, you are me. The day my brain did the big hiccup I lost the ability to speak.  I could UNDERSTAND speech as well as ever.   My hearing was fine. Eyesight was fine. I could READ. I simply could not speak. So it seems logical for to use this format to ''talk" since I can "talk" in words while I relearn how to speak.

Now... back to my story...

The ambulance took me to St. Mary's Hospital in Reno. I remember the trip. Much of it anyway. I remember feeling relaxed. I remember being amused by all the fuss that being made about my "condition."  I couldn't tell anyone, but I was going to be fine. Clearly other's did not agree with my prognosis. I was tired. Very tired. All I that I could do was smile. And sleep.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

calling on the better angels of our nature

1. I am now completely certain that angels live among us. They take the form all the family and friends and the caregivers whose love came through in spite of all the things I couldn't help you with.
2. I am also aware that I'm not angel... yet. But, I like the idea of simply "calling on the better angels of our nature..." as Obama says in his very meaningful channeling of Lincoln.
3. I'll get to my blog after I recover of staying up all night to watch the Obama inauguration festivities.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Throwing my body down the stairs

Of course I mean for that statement to very dramatic because it was.  By the third day of just laying in my bedroom I knew I needed water and I knew I was dying. Yet, I couldn't die without giving my girls a reasonable shot of barking loud enough that my neighbors came to rescue them. I know how odd that seems. I could feel myself slipping into that "peaceful place'' and I fought the urge to go there until I took care my girls... even though they Yorkshire Terriers. They were beloved friends to me -- Emma and Lola.     
First, I had to crawl from bedroom down a hallway to the stairs.  I remember getting rug burns on elbows and knees. I'm not sure how long it me get there but I'm sure it took a long time. I had to rest, continue crawling, rest, crawl, rest, and crawl some more. When I finally got to the stairs I had to figure out how to get down.  So I did what came naturally to me -- I went headfirst down the stairs to first landing. My face got scuffed up, I broke a couple of ribs, everything was sore, but I was not dead... yet. Then I went down the second landing. This time I had more obstacles to overcome -- crashing throw a doggie gate, and taking out my beading stash was just the beginning. I had had installed wood floor downstairs -- when I landed I can remember just how hard they were.   

I don't know exactly what happened next. I heard knocking, and doorbells ringing, and my friend Doug opening the door, my girls were barking, then the ambulance came...

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Tired. I felt tired. So, I napped while my dogs, Emma and Lola licked my face.  Maybe if I rested a bit I could get "my girls" some food and water. They looked scared. But, maybe they were just mad at me... I was used to that. They were Yorkshire Terrier after all.  They unlikely to rescue me like Lassie rescued Timmy when he fell into "well.''  No. My girls we spoiled rotten. That gave me a certain amount peace. At least I didn't expect them to get out this mess. So I napped. 
I'm not certain how long I lay in a sort dreamworld but I noticed that when I slept I could not dream at all. When I was awake everything seemed like a dream. It occurred to me how odd that was. I was at peace, but I was conscious just how dangerous that peace was. It was as if my body was fighting this overwhelming urge to surrender to that peaceful place. I was worried about that dreaming-thing. I knew that wasn't "normal." Then again, what did I know about "normal?"

So I waited. The sun came up and streamed in through my stained glass windows and went down again. My phone was ringing. Ringing. But I couldn't reach it. And, I couldn't speak. Then the sun came up again. And went down again.  My body felt detached and stiff.  I simply had to move.  Tomorrow. 

too much drama

I can only write about a paragraph now and it can take me a ridiculous amount of time. TIME is one thing I've become keenly arrow of. I don't think about in a maudlin, morbid, or self-pitying way -- I know that is a miracle that I am still breathing.  But I am irritated by the amount of time it take me to do things.  Some things don't change.

The day my brain did THE BIG HICCUP, I became much more aware drama-- or, more specifically what I was going to do now that my ass was on the floor in my bedroom upstairs, I was now unable to speak, oh yes, and my right side was now paralyzed. I knew that I was going to something dramatic to get help. But, first I had to take a nap. Yes, I needed a nap. 

Friday, January 16, 2009

what I learned, and have to learn

1. That everything can wait. 
2. That speaking is often over-rated. But re-learning to speak is literally like learning a foreign language only harder.
3. When life seems impossible, stressful, chaotic, etc. remember it could get worse... or better...
but inevitably things will change.   
4. It is a very good thing that have a sense humor and that it didn't go out when my brain imploded.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

more insights

Okay, now that I have my own attention I better explain a cerebral venous attack, or hemorrhage in my head, or bleed, or stroke feels like.  I had no headache, no sudden warning signs, just a gradual feeling that something wasn't right.  First my arm got weak, and then my hand failed to grip the phone that I was trying to use.  But that was okay since I had lost the ability to speak.  Oh, I KNEW WHAT I WOULD SAY if I could speak, "oh fuck," comes to mind. I don't mean to make light of losing my ability to speak -- it would have come in handy -- but I was much more concerned with what was happening to my body.  While I walked from my bedroom to my office and back again, I felt my leg getting weak and before long it wouldn't support me at all.  So I did what anyone in similar  situation would do -- I fell down. Gravity got the best of me.  This was a hell situation. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

stroke of insight

I lifted this idea from the book by Jill Bolte Taylor, a Harvard-trained neuroscientist, who experienced a massive stroke when a blood vessel exploded on the left side of her brain. Like the author that very thing happened to me in November 2007.  The best way that I can explain what it felt to go through --- "something mysterious" was happening to me and I was pissed.  Maybe that wasn't the right thing to feel at the moment when my head was bleeding into my brain --- but this my instinctual, visceral reaction. My house was mess, I had "numerous" academic things to attend to, my dogs where ready to go out, etc. I had VERY important things to do with my VERY important life.  Oh, I knew what THIS was ... but it couldn't be a more inopportune time.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

welcome to my blog... you will notice that it is entirely lowercase ... and may also lack appropriate spelling, grammar, and punctuation ... not because I'm lazy...  but rather, in november of 2007, I had an anuerism commonly referred to as a stroke.  The stroke affected everything... except my sense humor, my sense determination, and my artistic ability.  This is my story.