... a look for better things to come
I felt another lump in my neck which I judged to be another false aneurysm like the one I had previously. I knew from that surgery for false aneurysm that this needed immediate attention lest it rupture. I also knew that I wanted to avoid intubation as my vocal cord had been fixed by a doctor at the Eye and Ear Infirmary. So I looked up and found a surgeon who could do a repair of carotid under local anesthesia. The MGH surgeon said that he could put a stent in my carotid artery, inserted through my femoral artery using local anesthesia. The problem was that I was in the middle of the group process course. I told the group that I had to leave for surgery and I hoped I would be back in a week.
The course was in Porter Square in Cambridge MA. As I drove the short way home through the back of Somerville it was about 10PM. I was beginning to dwell on the up coming surgery, feeling a sense of foreboding. I thought, as I drove along, Iíve had lots of surgery but never have I felt so uneasy.
We were up at 5AM to prepare to get to MGH by 6AM. I drove with Catherine at my side. It was still dark in late October, damp and dreary to go with my uneasiness. I kept my thoughts to myself. It was not long before I had packed my personal belongings in the bag presented, kissed Catherine goodbye, gave her my things and was wheeled of in a stretcher. There were lots of people in green and white busying themselves for my surgery. The surgeon came in, asked me how I was doing and said, ďLetís go!Ē
I was in a kind of twilight sleep, only vaguely aware of my surrounds. I could feel pushing and prodding but there was no pain. Before long, I was wheeled into a room and transferred to a bed. As I had nothing to eat beforehand I was given food. I was looking at the food feeling very strange when a doctor looked in on me. He asked how I was doing and the last thing I remember saying was I didnít feel very good.
I have no recollection of the next five or six days. I dreamt that a sadistic nurse was trying to force me to do something that I didnít want to but I donít know what it was she wanted me to do. And then I woke up one day and my love was there beside me. Catherine called for the doctor and he began checking me out. I could talk but my thoughts were scrambled. My right arm was dead and my right leg slightly affected.
Catherine and I had talked together about not being left a vegetable. This was our understanding that there were not to be heroics for either of us. So for five or six days or so she just sat by my bed and hoped. The kids were all prepared for the worst, all six of them. Amy, our daughter, an I.C.U. nurse, suggested C-PAP, forced oxygen, as a means to revive me. It worked! I woke up shortly after administered C-PAP. Yeah, Amy!!
I donít remember too much of the details of my recovery and I donít want to. I was on the neurological service for about ten days at MGH and then transferred to Spaulding Rehabilitation Center for about a month. I do remember the kindness of the neurologist, doctor/doctor, as I called him, at MGH who had a Ph.D. and M.D.
At Spalding I had Dr. Po and a whole army of helpers. I had speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, nurses, nurse aides, you name it. The speech therapist was especially helpful in getting me to put my thoughts in order. My computer skills were gone. Using my left hand I began to think my way back to some of my computer skills. I send Spalding a little money each year as their dedication was so obvious.
I lost my job and havenít been able to get work since. I did try Lesley University but they say they have nothing for me. Iíve tried to get writing courses at Lesley and State college without any luck.
The passion I have had for golf for 30 years I have had to give up. Oh, I go to the par threes for nine holes, and some days eighteen. Thatís about it. I dropped out of Bellevue Golf Club where I was a member for 26 years.
I think it was Frances Bertulli, Catherineís cousin, the co-coordinator of The Milano Center that told Catherine of the Melrose Mirror. I went to a meeting of the Melrose Mirror, Wednesday 1:30-3 each Wednesday. I was stirred up at the meeting for the first time since my stroke. Here was a chance to talk with people about writing at least one day a week. Before long I volunteered to learn how to do editing and have been an editor ever since. This was my first experience with learning about how a web news paper works. After several years I am still learning about Pluto, the MIT software that runs the Melrose Mirror.
There is no question that this has brought me out of my doldrums. Each day I work at this makes the day glitter.
The other nice thing that has happened to me is Bob Christenson. Bob lives near us at 51 Melrose Street in Towers Condominiums. He is just down the hall from us and whenever I would see him he would try to talk me into playing golf at Mount Hood. One day I decided to show up. Bob asked me about my golf handicap. I said, ďAbout a thousand.Ē He laughed and assigned me three quota points. This means I had to get a point for bogey and two for par. You get three for birdie but birdie is out of my reach.
This my second complete year playing Tuesday and Thursday at Mount Hood. I even managed to win a little money. The days at Melrose Mirror and the days at Mount Hood have together given me a new lease on life. Who says when you get old it is time to cash out?
Bad luck leads to good luck!!