August 2, 1970. Near Corpus Christi Texas. I was a reporter on
assignment for ABC News waiting for Hurricane Celia to hit holed up in a motel
checking the TV news and on comes a man with the local news. A veteran older
newsman who explains things to the audience in his slow Texas drawl
choked with prairie dust. There is no film for any of the stories and only one AP news
still photograph to illustrate one story – just a man, talking – a sure sign of
a small town newscast. Not many resources.
Suddenly an arm comes in from screen left with a piece paper
and the man reads it silently, looks up and tells people: “every now then in
the news business we get news that’s happening right now and we call that a
bulletin. I got one now…” and then goes on to read something about a military
jet that crashed.
The news continued through item after item until the disembodied arm dares a repeat performance. The
man takes the paper, silently reads it and then addresses his audience: “A
while ago I told you about news that happens while we’re on the air. We call it
a bulletin. Well, we got us another-un…” and updated the plane crash story
with type of fighter jet it was and suspected casualties. Now, 41 years later, I
remember that newscast verbatim – the part about the bulletin that is.
I recount this story not to inform you of early American newscasters in the backwaters of America, but as a prelude to me telling you something
Remember that news bulletin I told you about in an earlier blog? Well, I’ve got us another-un.
I have to have an operation. If not, then I might have another stroke.
What the surgeon will do is cut my throat open, re-do the carotid
artery on the left to remove blockages, and sew me back up. It will not leave a
scar looking as though I’ve been in knife fight in Marseille. I asked.
For the sticklers to detail, it’s a carotid endarterectomy.
Now, you’ll remember that the left carotid artery is what
started my stroke over a year ago – it was completely blocked, and the
consultant then told me it would never open. My diet and rehabilitation
(walking with my rescue dogs twice a day – I’m available for a fee to consult
to the NHS) somehow opened that artery up, somewhat. My surgeon says he’s never
seen anything like it in the 20 years he’s been practicing.
Sounds like good news? Yes, but it also means I could have
another stroke unless that artery is completely flushed out and strong again.
Oh, by the way, it does not
mean I’ll be instantly cured of all symptoms of stroke. I’ll still have
the brain damage I got from my stroke, all the weakening of the right of my
body, learning to write and type, the loss of cohesive speech, slowed reaction
times, tiredness; I’ll get to keep all those as some sort of souvenir of stroke,
like a T-shirt that kids get when their parents have gone away on holiday
without them. (XL please). In return I’ll be getting a sort “all-clear” from
stroke from the surgeon – as much as anyone can get an all-clear from stroke.
I don’t get this for nothing. There is a chance I could have
another stroke during the operation, small chance, but still a chance: one to
two percent the surgeon says. That means 98-99% chance of success.
The alternative to surgery is to take an aspirin a day and hope.
I already do. Take aspirin that is.
And “hope” this surgery works.