FAST

While my authors have had real adventures around the world, their publisher has confined himself to local excitement.
In preparation for our big move to Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island, I was getting the old condo ready for its new owners.
I had a stroke. The stroke was a surprise, needless to say, and perhaps more so to my friends and family. I have not eaten any meat since I was five and am physically active (having played briefly for the Hamilton Tigercats and Montreal Allouettes) and I bike and walk every day. Don’t drink more than a few glasses of wine a year and have never smoked. So it seems the higher fat yogurt for dessert, and snackfood muffins from Tims are a problem 😕.
As a writer, I am compelled to set down events – you are certainly not obliged to read this but perhaps my lesson can be your lesson:
Had the stroke on Monday, alone, while putting the last of our boxes together. I had done a deep cleaning of the fridge then pulled it out to clean around it.
Looking up from the floor, it was quite frustrating to discover that my whole left side had suddenly decided to go on strike. A simple pull up of the body was quite simply no longer possible.
When I lost all control of my left leg and arm I had gone down hard. The formidable bruises show where I fell, then subsequently crawled on my back. (My wife was freaked out by the bruises more than when, over the previous 2 weeks, I had a series of heavily flowing nosebleeds – connection?). Those bruises looked a lot worse, apparently, due to the blood thinners the doctors from VGH’s Stroke Clinic used on me. Especially the life-saving tPA.
Anyway, incapacitated on my back, I recognized the stroke (please do look up “FAST”, with respect to strokes) and quickly found that my only form of locomotion was to push on my back with my right arm and leg. I pushed out of the kitchen to the stairs where my phone was sitting two boxes high. Slithering up stairs is really hard with only one side working. The set of black bruises on my back matches the distance between stairs. That maneuver took a surprising amount of effort.
Finally I got high enough to reach the phone, called 911 and told them to contact the manager or someone to get into the condo building’s front door.
Then I had to flop back to my prone position, without hitting my head, to reach the unit’s front door. It was locked, of course, and having just sold the condo I couldn’t have some beast of a fireman smash through it. Imagine the cost 😊.
The 911 operator advised me to come back to the phone, which I had put on speaker. Right.
Made it to the door and found a clothing brush that I had placed inside the piano seat at the door, unused for 5 years. With it I was barely able to reach up high enough from the floor to knock open the lock. It was just in time for the eager mob of firemen and paramedics to stomp down the long hall. Thanks, guys, for opening the door carefully.
The paramedics went through a protocol that I was to hear endlessly over the next week from every medical specialist who saw me: “What happened? What day is it?” “Where are you?” “Can you move this arm?” “Can you press these toes up against my hand?”
Agreeing with me that I had experienced a stroke, that protocol was enacted. Fortunately, the paramedics followed the stroke protocol and skipped past Richmond hospital (1 kilometer away and en route) to take me directly to Vancouver General.
A really good move. That specialist stroke team zipped through their own stroke protocol (which, yes, included all the previous questions). With CAT scans, they determined that the blockage was not bleeding, so they were free to inject the tPA. On interrogation they couldn’t really come up with a cause for the blockage, other than the possibility that all the airline miles I had put in during my younger years had produced deep vein thrombosis, causing a pulmonary embolism in my lungs. A capitalist shout-out to the airlines for making flying both remarkably uncomfortable as well as medically dangerous! Indeed, the filter did later catch a few more little globs migrating up. (Is there a class action lawyer in the house?)
This being their one clue to go on, they inserted a temporary filter in my one artery coming from my right leg.
As they wrapped me up on the operating table, the neurosurgeon, Dr. Gary Redekop, finished by saying, “Hold up your left arm and wave.”
I did and he said, “Take that picture! He’s the poster boy for what needs to be done correctly!”
They kicked me out in a week. No physical or mental ill effects at all. If the whole event had taken more than 2-3 hours I would be in a wheelchair now.
The whole team, including stroke and heart specialists (who were confused by my weird neandertal specs for blood and and heart rate), radiology techs (even the young newbie who was tasked with ultrasounding my cohones – still not sure why?), the nurses on 2 floors, dieticians, gurney drivers and cleaners all did an outstanding, professional job.
The followup team led by Dr. Sharan Mann is making sure I stay away from their kind services in the future. Heartfelt thanks to all!
My new diet is being aggressively supervised by my son and wife. Oh well. So much for Tim’s muffins and donuts. Come to think of it, Qualicum Beach only has really good, locally made food in their cafes. Maybe that’s what happens when you have a town of “survivors”. QB boasts the oldest average age of any municipality in BC. The sirens rarely sound here, as opposed to their constant wail in the Lower Mainland.
After being kicked out of the hospital I was supposed to restrict over-exertion. Being temporarily alone in the new house full of boxes and furniture means that nobody could scold me for pushing it all around. The rug shampooer really wasn’t that heavy, and the queen-sized mattresses move fairly easily if one swears a lot at them. That slope up the thick front lawn provides an excellent workout, just like my therapist recommended. Sort of.
I decided to forego painting all the rooms at this time. Just some trim touchup around the outside. Oh, the garden. Even after I pointed out to my long-suffering wife that our street name was in honour of a Scottish castle, she still did not consent to leaving the thistles in the garden. A couple of them looked like they were quite prepared to be the Scottish equivalent of Jack’s beanstock. Alas, they are now in the bin.
Sincere apologies to my wife and son for putting you through this adventure! At least we are all eating much better now.
The publishing business is back online and in production! Thank you to my authors for your very kind patience.

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