August 13th, 2013
Of all the things I can think of that might bring a struggling man back to his right state of mind is, “Dr S thinks you’ve had a stroke.” Processing speed doubles, that two-stroke engine between your ears starts humming as a four-stroke, suddenly you are able to follow the doctor’s fingers with both eyes, whether he raises his arms, lowers them, or shoves them into your face with hot fudge dripping from his knuckles. All this and more happened to me Friday night sometime between nine and eleven o’clock.
It began not too much earlier, as the evening shift was coming on at Pete’s. I was in the middle of an observation about my upcoming colonoscopy: “I’ve had a few of these things and I can tell you, at 72, you should be politely excused by the medicalistas. I mean, what if your e.Coli suddenly get cancer? They’ve had eleven-and-a-half billion generations to get it right. If they can’t evolve into a lean, green –”
“Wickham, we don’t want to hear about your polyps. Not now, (sob) Erin, my favorite, is quitting. There she goes.” It was true, she was walking out of the shop with her possessions. The mournful heartstrings we heard were for her, not me.
At about 5:30, I was getting cold. Shivering. Could barely pick up my coffee. I looked out the window and the weather had gotten gray. Why not go home and put some pop-tarts in the oven? I asked Don for a ride. He began to walk me to his car, but soon called in for reinforcements. Sidney showed up at my side. doing this weird dance, half stooped over like he was going to catch a bale of hay. I pretty soon realized the bale of hay was me. I didn’t like it and pretty much resisted his efforts to help me into Don’s car. Somehow, in what seemed like 10 seconds or 15 minutes, Don, Sidney, and myself had been fitted into the cockpit of the BMW, a very small two-seater sports car. I remembered none of this, and even less of the things that followed, which included the two mile ride home, the 26 stairs up to my flat, the two hours of jibber-jabber, the worried looks shared by Don and Sidney, the ambulance ride to St Francis Hospital, and the gurney on which I struggled to view the world in unit 13 of the emergency room. And back to the top of this piece, nurse T telling me, “Dr S thinks you’ve had a stroke.”