Stroke of Luck? – I Don’t Think So

Standing in front of my computer monitor on that terrifying day in September I experienced a very strange feeling and then the monitor started to spin in a clockwise direction. As this is not an everyday occurrence you can imaging my shock which quickly changed to intense fear. I never consciously thought, I’m having a stroke but those are the words that came out of my mouth.

I screamed them at the top of my lungs because I just knew that if I got to the point where I couldn’t speak I could very well be stuck downstairs for an hour before my son came home or my wife came down to check on the laundry.

My wife heard me and came downstairs. I was sitting with a cold sweat breaking out all over and after explaining what was happening she helped me upstairs where she frantically called my daughter and then 911. Ambulance arrives. EMT’s get me into the “truck” and speed me to the Emergency Room at the hospital. Admitted. Hours of waiting hooked up to monitors. 7 hours later about to be released with suspected vertigo. Doctor’s have a shift change and new doctor orders a CAT scan after seeing me try to drunkenly walk down the hall. CAT scan. Mr. Fowler – it’s complicated – you’ve had a stroke the doctor says gingerly in a ‘we almost screwed up badly’ kind of way. Thanks for telling me what I knew 7 hours ago, I think to myself.

I spent 5 days in the Acute Care Observation Ward and it took 3 of those days, with an MRI and another CAT scan to figure out that they have no real idea what caused my stroke. What they did find out is that the stroke occurred in the left Cerebellum and the damage was so large that they needed to call in a specialist from another hospital to make sure it wasn’t a tumour. They were also very concerned because the area was right up against the brain stem.

I knew that strokes usually affected one side or the other with paralysis but I experienced no such effects (hence the difficulty diagnosing me). I had severe balance issues and I also had some minor vision problems but they cleared up after a few days. So imagine my surprise when the physiotherapist came to my room and after giving me the now well known co-ordination tests, said, Mr. Fowler I saw your MRI and with the damage I saw you should not be able to use your arms or legs and you certainly should not be able to walk at all.

Over the next 4 days many doctors and interns would come in and give me “the tests” and each time they would just shake their heads in disbelief. They used every word they could think of except the one that fit. Miracle. I was a real live miracle. You go all your life saying, God, I would really like to see a genuine miracle and then one day you are one. I don’t know why God chose to do this for me but this is not luck and if you knew me you would realize that when it comes to things that do require luck, I have none.

Sometimes  it is hard for people to see miracles. The Pharisees got mad at Jesus for healing a man on the Sabbath. Think of it. A man was healed before their eyes and they were angry because of the day of the week. Sometimes miracles are only for those who have eyes to see them.

During my physio I saw more miracles. Two young people in their early 20’s were there. One was recovering from a rare spinal stroke and the other from a spinal tumour. The former is a university student and has recovered enough in 4 months to go back to school without having to use a walker or crutches and the latter was told not to expect to be able to move his toes for a year and is up and walking with balance aids after only 6 months.

Miracles don’t have to be big to be important. They don’t have to involve healing from leprosy or giving sight to the blind. They are often the things we take for granted; the smile of a healthy child or being able to walk your daughter down the aisle or experiencing the beauty of a sunset. Sometimes the miracle is he change in attitude that the ailment or disease brings about. Either way;

I don’t believe in luck.

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