Meet our writers

 







Health August 2017

Add One More Day...

A Stroke of Luck

By Anne Ashley

His Royal Highness, my better half, my groom of far too few years, had the audacity to suffer a massive stroke. Now, it’s not that I begrudge him a little R&R. If he’d wanted to slack off for the day, I’d have been fine with it.

* * * * *

I encourage everyone reading this to educate yourself on the symptoms of a stroke. Learn what to do and then do it, immediately.  Had I not recognized what was happening to him, I have been assured by the medical professionals that the effects would have been devastatingly worse, if not fatal. 

I've always wondered what it would take to rock my steadfast composure. I've often mused over what might throw me off my unwavering stride. I wonder if I would be the type of person who rose to any occasion, regardless of the severity or the risk to me, kith or kin. Whenever I've watched shows or newscasts about some unsuspecting individual who was otherwise thought of as meek and mild, becoming a veritable hero – saving the day with their bare hands or a shoestring or that buckly bit of their belt, I've pondered the prospects of being as capable.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m no Wonder Woman – despite all my tough talk and noise. I can be quite the princess when it comes to things like camping or any other type of self-inflicted deprivation. I mean, if I must so much as search beyond my toilet bag for my eyebrow tweezers, I lose the will to live. But, I'm talking about real inner strength kind of stuff. The fortitude you don’t know you have until you're lifting a car off a baby.

I can remember one news story where tourists bound for an icy location suffered a plane malfunction and were forced to land on top of a mountain … somewhere … frigidly colder than they were prepared for, inopportunely remote, of course. I mean, when was the last time a plane was stranded in the middle of a flat, warm Hawaiian island?

Anyway, the passengers all survived the initial crash landing but quickly realized that the worst was still to come. Survival, such as it was, was going to be tougher than landing a large aircraft on a tiny mountaintop had been! Long story short, as well as sub-zero temperatures, having to treat relatively minor injuries with scarcely a band-aid amongst them and only a wrecked and drafty fuselage for shelter, the passengers had to elect someone to become lunch if any of them were to survive. Now that, my fine readers, is true grit!

I never watched the broadcast long enough to find out who became sustenance to their fellow castaways but I can be certain that had I been forced to endure such a catastrophe, it would not have been me. Mostly because injured or not, isolated mountain top or not, freezing weather or not, I wouldn’t have stuck around for the draw. I'm pretty sure I would have had the good sense to skedaddle while whomever sorted out the straws. I would have had the smarts to sit quietly perched on a ledge until the news crew showed up! (Have you ever noticed that despite impossible terrains, war-torn devastation, impassable roads that no medical, governmental or political aid can get through, CNN manages to show up and in time to film the disaster for the 9:00 o’clock news bulletin?)

But all that aside, unfortunately, I've found my Achilles heel, my weakness, my chink in the armor and when I was least prepared to find it, too. While it wasn’t anything like as horrid as drawing the main course short straw or defending my family against marauders, it was nevertheless gut-wrenching ... and a true test of my inner strength and outer composure.   

His Royal Highness, my better half, my groom of far too few years, had the audacity to suffer a massive stroke. Now, it’s not that I begrudge him a little R&R. If he’d wanted to slack off for the day, I’d have been fine with it. But he’s the rock of our family. The quiet, self-assured, unassuming rock that we all turn to when all other options have been exhausted.

When I say other options, I mean like when I finally lose my temper with wait staff or when I’m obliged to educate some half-wit who thinks my customer complaint is merely another opportunity for them to read off Their Operator Responses for Dummies guidebook. Or when I'm forced to do something I don’t want to do (typically it’s not the doing something as much as it’s the doing something with the someone that I don’t like), he's the one who gently reminds us all that there are better ways to achieve results than losing one’s proverbial doo-doo. Although, to be fair, even His Royal Highness is aware that there are times, few and far between times, once in a rare while times, when sending in the grenade (me!) to get results is necessary.

I couldn’t fathom life without him.

My husband was fortunate that his stoke was detected in time. All medical attention, tests and interventions have concluded that he will make a 100% recovery. In time, with his complete cooperation he will be back to his old self, once more. We were lucky. Very lucky, indeed.

I am by his side now in ways that I didn’t know existed in matrimony. I will be strong until he begs – begs, mind you – for me to stop. And while I'm sure there are far worse things in this world than to watch your most loved and treasured family member suffer the ailments of a stroke, this was as much a test to our strengths as I ever hope to endure.

When I was certain that my husband was safely out of danger, when his ever-present medical staff assured me that he was on the road to full recovery … I bent over him while he was half asleep. I kissed his forehead and whispered words I knew would bring him around. “Sweetheart, sweetheart, can you hear me? My birthdays are going to look pretty damned different from now on, right?"

I encourage everyone reading this to educate yourself on the symptoms of a stroke. Learn what to do and then do it, immediately. Nothing in my husband’s world gave us even the slightest inkling that he would become so ill and so quickly. Had I not recognized what was happening to him, I have been assured by the medical professionals that the effects would have been devastatingly worse, if not fatal. 

Every. Second. Matters

 

Be sure to follow me on twitter@anneashley57.

Meet Anne