Whatever it is in my body that used to connect the music to the symphony doesn’t work anymore. The stroke disconnected those wires. I’ve seen the pictures.
One afternoon I went to sleep. Not really a siesta, a deep, deep, deep sleep. During that time somebody stole everything worthwhile. Hoodies? Somali pirates? Thieving politicians? What they got was personal treasure – you can’t get insurance against it. When you notice it’s missing there’s sadness for the loss, for you know it will never be the same again.
I had just picked up my daughter from school and I don’t remember driving beyond that. But I got home somehow. I remember going to the hospital. Amoret remembered those persistent public service announcements involving a man and woman (we are blessed with equality is this country) whose faces are burning and got the message:
(three specific symptoms of stroke.
Facial weakness – can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?
Arm weakness – can the person raise both arms?
Speech problems – can the person speak clearly and understand what you say?
Time to call 999)
They saw me FAST which is a credit to the A and E staff. They asked questions – lots of questions and I nodded off on a nap.
My fantasies erase my physical body (although I don’t remember any pain) and replace it with a perfect, spiritual one. They exist in a gauzy world of memories that I can replay at will – like fast-forward on DVDs where you stop every now then to see if you’re interested. It is competing for the centre ring of your attention – narratives changing focus like dreams only these were real memories that actually happened to me (your life flashes in front of you before you die?).
Fast-forward. A gosling I had one time when I had a barn and thought I needed geese.
Wvvvzzt. Ruthie the duck lady, the roller skating woman in the French Quarter of New Orleans who went everywhere with her pet duck.
Wvvvzzt. Driving in wintertime Michigan where snow popped and crunched under the wheels of your car and roads were ploughed so high with snow you were driving in the shade.
Wvvvzzt. The taste of Vernor’s ginger ale brought up from the treasure trove of Grandma Emma’s cellar.
Wvvvzzt. Talking with Billy Milligan about a script we were working on.
Wvvvzzt. Atchafalaya Swamp with a Cajun guide telling how me to find turtles eggs, keep cottonmouths of out pirogues and get armadillos out of holes.
Wvvvzzt. Strange stiching on my T-shirt. Whoa. This is real. I’m by myself and the bed is moving. It’s about midnight and somebody tells me they’re moving me to a ward. I stare at the walls like some F1 driver watching the scenery go by. We reach chicanes after straight runs and I feel I’m going into to the bowels of the building. Nothing sinster. I have a good feeling about the hospital – there was that cherished moment when Amoret looked me with utter pride and wonder holding the baby she had just delivered, our daughter.
It is not the cavern I expect. I get a window seat although the view is various exterior hospital walls. I fall asleep. My dreams have me running or walking, without limitation, sometimes aimlessly.