Monday, December 7, 2009

Stroke Strikes

Stroke Strikes

I may have reached the end of my patience with some aspects of what we call, “stroke.”

I mean, I’ll admit, the Earth and its atmosphere got a well-earned break for the years I still have to re-learn to speak. But I can name the three times my right fist hurt anyone, and one of them was my right fist. I only sang in the bathroom in recent years, and that in an empty house.

I don’t understand most of the rest, either, especially this paralysis thing.

I suppose I did give some thought to being, “lame,” or, physically, “disadvantaged,” or, “cripple,” when that was a descriptive word, before it became an insult.
But I don’t recall what I might have thought about the disadvantages of being, I guess, imperfect (Owf, that looks like what it looks like, you arrogant, self-important, “perfect,” bastard.).

In the early days, I just thought maybe that guys who wore casts, temporary casts, got a lot of enviable attention in school. I don’t suppose its news that I was among the others who envied the would-be jocks whose casts became the canvas for signatures by the girls. It’s just that…I don’t know…breaking bones? It wasn’t my style.

Otherwise, I don’t remember thinking much about it, and, now I have to—I suspect this is one of those unkind memories you have when the, “other” guy’s, boat comes looking for you—because, “There, but for The Grace of God go…etc.” I guess I got caught running afoul of, “The Grace of God.”

So, the right half of my entire body has elected to retire (or, maybe the left half of my body has withdrawn its retirement papers, without telling the right half. Whatever.).

My right half has lost its consciousness, or its will, or its interest, its get-up-and-go; leaving me alive--and ultimately well, mind you, considering what I thought a stroke was--but increasingly impatient about the disagreements between halves of my once-cooperative-self, particularly, this year, as regards the direction they each have selected to go.

One side of me decides on all-ahead-full, for instance, and sets about it as if nothing had changed (the ignorant cuss). The other meanders about and flirts, let’s say, for instance, with a strange leg.

It doesn’t bother listening to, helping out, or even reminiscing with its former partner. And the new attraction could be a chair leg, or a table leg, or, most embarrassing, a human leg (which requires the lower part of the body taking care of the removal of the offensive leg, while the upper part explains away to a possibly offended person what the lower part is doing, which he does not know, himself, but has to make up. And this while the mouth sounds like it has just discovered speech.).

Most of lower part listens inattentively, if at all, while it blithely becomes the showoff sport of wind, gravity, and, even, I am beginning to suspect, the vagaries of the barometer. Moreover, if it agrees to “go,” it wishes for some reason to go the right, of all things, instead of what the rest of the body thought was straight ahead. Somehow, it wants to go even more to the right on humid days.

I never saw anything like it. At home, my left side wants to get in the car and go to town to see what’s doing, while my right side, perhaps knowing the car has long been sold, is perfectly happy doing nothing, unless of course it is to the right of what I set my sights on.

Let me jump off, here, and re-emphasize, “well,” because, (a) I am; and, (b) I don’t believe it either. I probably need to see it in print, myself, to get comfortable with it. I like to think I am not complaining, but trying to figure things out little better, so I don’t become a complainer.

Previously, before my stroke, and for as much as a year after, I thought a guy who had a stroke was pretty well done. He simply had parts that disagreed vehemently with the finality of the sentence. The fact is, however, he had stepped too far one way or the other, caught a crippling undercut that he knew (dammit) he had flagrantly risked, and now was only waiting for the cross-punch to his aptly-named temple, which will end the era of history that had him as a cast member in it.

Until the blow’s delivery, hopefully a fast, relatively painless one--maybe, if he’s lucky, a knockout--he could see the crowd, recognize some disappointed fan’s faces, be present at some family functions and know, always know, his mistake.

The rest of his life is simply waiting, trying increasingly to attend to some of his own needs, so as to give some poor soul a break from the tedium of attending to another person’s tedium. Otherwise, he should be careful to avoid spitting, drooling, and the like, because it’s just plain embarrassing; and keep the jokes to maybe two words, tops, because he’s libel to forget one and mispronounce the other.
Actually, it is like that, at first, but somehow, it doesn’t seem so bad at all, after awhile.

What really is annoying is the brain’s taking its time to tell the nervous system what’s going on. About a year in, I decided to give the keyboard, what they used to call the typewriter, one last try. (The first two tries were beyond description. I might as well have tried to crayon the word, “antediluvian,” on a live crab.).

I fantasized that I would try to show my appreciation of some of the people (I didn’t know how many there were, nor do I yet) who helped me the night my brains fell out, and for months thereafter. I started with the word, “Communicate,” because I still was full of myself. After several hours of struggle, I gazed at the screen, and the word, “allegory,” looked me dead in the eye. There was no other word, and no other person with me.

“Allegory,” I said. “I don’t think I’ve ever used, “allegory,” unless it was on an entrance exam 58 years ago.”

I tried again the next day: “communicate,” I wrote, painstakingly, aiming my finger at the, “m,” and the, “u,” and the, “n.”

“Allegory,” my brain evidently spelled, with no, “m’s,” or, “u’s,” or, “n’s.” .
Eventually, I got past that, which, believe me, was frustrating. Eventually, I will feel capable of explaining it, too.

The discovery is, you recognize that every effort results in a triumph. How did that escape me all those years? Every effort. It’s really mind-blowing.

1 comment:

  1. Every chapter of Ed Lowe's writing career has dazzled and inspired me, and now more so than ever. We are so lucky to have him!