Sunday, February 17, 2008

Second Chances

Quick, close your eyes and touch your nose!

You know how a friend greets you with "How are ya?" and you reply "Just fine?" In many respects, I am 'just fine.' As a matter of fact I feel quite lucky in a way I never did before. It feels kind of odd to answer with "I just had a stroke, but otherwise, I'm fine!"

Now, philosophically, I already believed that one should be thankful for the life one's already had to live, and live each day like it's our last. But I just gotta tell ya that it feels a little different when the right half of your body seems out of whack, and you find out you have sky-high blood pressure when you do go to the doctor's.

So, to cut to the chase for those of you that may not know, and to shorten my typing since it's not too easy for my right hand to type accurately, I had a small stroke this week, and I'm basically fine, should recover completely, and must change my health lifestyle, and take blood pressure medicine conceivably forever.

Earlier, on Wednesday, I felt real ill, weak, and went to the clinic, where I found out about my blood pressure. She gave me some cognitive tests, which included closing my eyes and touching my nose with my fingertip. I did fine, and was sent home with some blood pressure medicine. I noticed later that night that it was hard to type with my right hand (which is still true!) but thought it might be the medication. I woke up wide awake around 3 AM, and for some reason started touching my nose, and was shocked when my right finger missed my nose very significantly. My right leg didn't function as well, and I really thought I had a stroke. I had to convince Kaiser of this the next day, and then found myself in the emergency room on Valentine's Day night (boy, did I blow my Valentine's Day!) watching my blood pressure every 30 minutes. Thoughts of guilt and selfishness about how I was now hurting my family flooded my mind. So many of my friends checked in with their concerns, I definitely felt unworthy. Eventually I said to myself, "Quit whining, and just be thankful!"

There's an old saying that goes something like this:
Nothing clears the mind like an execution in the morning

It's no secret that excess weight and a sedentary lifestyle pose health risks, but boy howdy, it sure seems real now. For the foreseeable future (should I be so blessed to have one) my life will change. I share with you a picture of the first meal I've made since getting out of the hospital, and I presume I'll be learning a lot more about low-salt and low-fat diets, to keep me from going insane. I just need to realize my old life is over, and I've been blessed to have a second go at it. Not being able to pig out on desserts and unhealthy 'comfort food' all the time is a no brainer of a trade for my second chance.

[cliché ending alert!]

So, count your blessings, tell the people you care about that you love them, and do what you need to do to stay around this dance a little longer!


Anonymous said...

The moral of the story, of course, is: Keep that finger away from your nose!

Stay well, friend.


macpict said...

Hi Geoff,

You are indeed lucky! Your comment is really very timely because I'm struggling with getting myself back on track with diet and exercise myself. Back in 1997, my father died. A few days later I went into Kaiser for an excisional biopsy on my left breast, then a few days after that did the music for my dad's memorial service (Cursillo music, of ocurse). In the hospital my blood pressure was off the charts (no wonder, dealing with my father's death, my breast, and playing the music). They brought my PB down on the operating table with Valium, then I got on my BP regimen. Luckily the lump was normal tissue. But I didn't embrace the meds like you have. I worked my way off them, then was caught again when I went into the docs for a very bad cold that had become walking pneumonia. They kept me imprisoned in that little exam room and gave me I don't remember what to bring the BP down immediately. My doc said I would have a stroke and that I had to stay on the meds for life. After a couple years of struggling to find the RIGHT meds, we have settled on a cocktail of Athenolol, Hydrochlorithiazide, and a newer med, Cozaar. I used to have Lisinopril but I got the nasty cough associated with it. The doc changed me to the Cozaar and miraculously several other bodily complaints disappeared and I felt better than I had in years. I went through the period of accepting my state, ate right, walked 2 miles a day, then got my current job at the elementary school. Then I fell on my morning walks and took over a year to get better. It was during this time the Lisinopril was replaced with the Cozaar. I gained back some of the 50 pounds I lost (20 pounds) and am now struggling to get back on track with exercise, stress reduction, and diet. I have a beginning yoga and meditation DVD that I'm beginning today, to deal with the stress of my job, which is hideous. I've joined the Bob Greene website (though I have to admit I'm struggling with sticking to the program, easy as it is). I've got to do this, Geoff, just as you do, and I thank you for sharing this right when I needed to hear someone else is doing it. I'll think of you actually HAVING the stroke and perhaps I can get real about this situation, quit belly-aching about it, and just do it. Thank you, old friend!

Mary Beth (MacDade) Powell

Dave & Jackie said...

Geoff, Jackie and I are so sorry to hear of your stroke. We're sending positive thoughts your way--all the way from LA. Know we are rooting for you!

vizetelly said...

Hello Geoff,

It looks like you are on top of the situation. Stay well and feel better soon.

- Mike Groh

UnifiedTheory said...


I'm glad you're in such good spirits and have a great outlook. My toughts are with you and your new lifestyle! May I suggest breaking out the old bike when you get back on track.