Oct 7' 2018 - Sunday

It was a Sunday morning, Oct 7' 2018. I was at my daughters house at Vandenberg AFB in California. I had ridden the Goldwing out to California from Tennessee to spend some time with my daughter and grandkids. Her husband, who was also in the Air Force, had been deployed to Kuwait this year and it was an opportunity to help her out some and see the grandkids. I had been here for a month already and it was about time for me to head back to Tennessee. The only problem was I was experiencing flu like symptoms the past week along with severe dizziness that was hampering my departure. I had been to the doctor off and on all week and everything was getting better except for one thing ... the dizziness. That was still going on this Sunday morning and I was about to find out why.

The kids were watching TV and my daughter was sleeping late and I was heading out to the patio to sit down and relax. Little did I know my life was about to take a dramatic change that would alter it forever in a way I never expected. It was a beautiful clear day, blue skies, birds chirping, and with just hint of a breeze everything seems so peaceful and quiet. I sat down on a patio chair to browse around on my phone for awhile and then it happened. Who knows the reason why. Why me? ... I would certainly have time to ponder that question in the coming months, maybe even for the rest of my life.

At first, I didn't know anything had really happen. There was no immediate sensation, pain or discomfort I just slid out the chair and on to the concrete floor. I immediately tried to get myself up and regain my equilibrium but I was having trouble but I wasn't sure why. The sliding door to the house was only a few feet away so I tried to reach it in hopes of getting the grandkids attention. It was then I noticed my right arm was not working so I used my left arm to crawl my way forward. When I got there I started banging on the window until somebody heard me. It wasn't long before Travis, my 10-year-old grandson, had noticed his grandpa on the ground and open the door. "What's wrong Grandpa?" he said as soon as the door open. I motioned for him to get his Mom and soon my daughter, Jessica, was by my side. She quickly told the kids to wait in the bedroom as she called 911. I listened as the conversation unfolded almost in disbelief. We waited together as she comforted me as best she could. As I laid there on the patio it wasn't long before I could hear the ambulance sirens getting closer and closer. I had heard them before, we all have, but this time they were coming for me. That scared me but I took comfort in being in my daughters arms. What better place was there than those sweet arms. Once the ambulance arrived there were several people rushing around me asking several questions most which my daughter provided answers too. They were special people that knew exactly what to do and that gave me confidence as well. They assessed the situation and soon had everything ready.

Up on to the gurney and wheeled to the ambulance I was tucked and ready for transport. I don't know if most people who suffer a stroke maintain consciousness during it but I did. To reassure myself I kept telling myself it probably wasn't that bad but that wasn't the case. A stroke is serious business with time being of utmost importance. As we pulled away from the house I started to wonder if I was going to die but they would have none of that. They quickly reassure me and comforted me all the way to the hospital. I wondered anyway. The hospital was 20 miles away in Santa Maria California, Marian Medical Center, as there was only a medical unit on the base.

To say that I was the main attraction at the emergency room is an understatement. Everybody was rushing around me here and there and all doing what they were trained to do. To the untrained eye it was mass confusion but to the trained eye it was everything working the way it should at light speed. I simply had to stay still and let them do their work. With half my body not working I wasn't going anywhere fast. Eventually, all the initial tests were done and I was on my way to a private room.

After awhile I found myself with my daughter alone in hospital room thousands of miles away from my home in Tennessee. What a scary feeling of helplessness and of wondering what was ahead for me. My right leg and right arm were not working and worse yet something was going on weird upstairs. I couldn't talk right, my thinking didn't seem clear and I was often confused. I was soon to find out I had suffered an Acute Ischemic left MCA stroke CSM/HCC on the left portion of my brain and the affects were the symptoms that were appearing on the right side of my body. I knew what a stroke was but I didn't really know the long-term effects of it. I was about to learn way more than wanted to know.

As the sun went down this day I tried not to think about dying but it was all I could think about. I didn't sleep much that night which became true for every night I was there. With half my body not moving you don't sleeping alot. They gave me something to help with the sleeping it only helped some. According to the doctors I was still in a dangerous situation with a real chance of experiencing and an additional stroke in the coming days. Their concern was valid and I had another event on Oct 10th. My heart rate dropped to the 30's and I became unresponsive. Again people were rushing around like crazy and I was't sure what was going on. I only vaguely remember and they thought I had a vasogenic event versus a seizure. Eventually my vital signs improved with an injection of 0.5 mg of atropine plus various other procedures and I stabilized.

After that I wasn't sure I was going to survive although everyone said I would be fine. Funny thing about dying ... we seldom think about it until it becomes a real possibility. It clouds my every thought and the feeling was hard to shake. This from a guy who rode motorcycles, without a helmet, his whole life was actual worried about dying. Confusing, I know it doesn't make sense to most of you but now I was worried ... go figure. It seems like now I was out of control and I couldn't do a thing about it. We all like to be in control. Yet everything was out of my control and I did't like it. I pushed those thoughts away but they were always there .... what if I die?

My wife Yong flew out to California and my son flew in from England. Even my son-in-law, David, flew in from his deployment in Kuwait. Jason and David are in the Air Force too. If I was going to die, when I looked around the room, I had all the family that I had cared about for my whole life by my side ... this was the time .... but it didn't happen. My daughter and son research a good rehab place and soon I would be transferred to Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital in Santa Barbara to continue my recovery. I was transferred their after 6 days of initial treatment.

A new life would be starting there .... Continued below …

Some pictures …

My Jessica
My Son-in-Law David on the left
My Son Jason on the right
No Words

Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital