One of the signs you’re getting old is the AARP and the American Heart Association will send you pamphlets warning about the signs of a heart attack or stroke. Trust me, it’s not junk mail. Nor is it anything to laugh at, although I’m often seen rolling on the floor these days it’s not from laughter but because I fell and can’t get up. Here are some signs I had:
• I can’t remember words. That might not be a problem for a hot house hog janitor but I’m a writer and words are my meal ticket. Sometimes it’s simple words like when I called to my wife, “What’s that color that’s real dark?”
She correctly replied, “Black.”
• I couldn’t walk. After breakfast on Thanksgiving morning I got up, or at least I tried to. I took one step and did a face plant on the floor. My entire left side went to sleep and wouldn’t wake up. I now walk with a cane or walker, bounce off walls and do things contortionists in Vegas can’t duplicate. To the untrained eye it looks like I’ve had waaaaay too much to drink. I wish.
• I’m grounded. My wife won’t let me drive or go anywhere. Now I know what those turtles on top of fence posts in Nebraska feel like. I think I could drive but my wife is afraid I’ll kill someone or harm our reputation if any of the townspeople see me trying to walk a white line.
• I’m suddenly stupid. I always took pride in my smarts. I was a straight A student and finished college in three years. My wife insists that my intelligence was the main reason she married me. (It couldn’t have been my looks or my last name.) Now I can’t even remember yesterday and a column that used to take me three hours to write now takes three days. I feel dumber than a Southdown sheep and suspect my IQ is a negative number.
• I shake worse than a cat trying to pass a peach pit and jerk so hard I give myself whiplash. Once at the supper table my arm involuntarily jerked straight up like it did in the fifth grade when Mr. Foss, my history teacher, would ask a question and throw some candy to whoever answered it the fastest. I learned a lot of history that year but gained ten pounds and had three cavities. My wife won’t let me go to any auctions now because she’s afraid I’ll accidentally buy a load of steers or a Louis the XIV fainting couch. My neurologist said he wouldn’t worry about the jerking and seizures and I wouldn’t either if I were him.
• I ‘m taking two dozen pills daily and the pharmacist and I are on a first name basis. I have so many reward points built up at Rite Aid I think I could probably buy the company.
• Two side effects of a stroke are you start meeting lots of kooky people and feel lighter in the wallet. The kooks are the doctors! I had one female neurologist who carried her tools of the trade with her in a purse like she only had her office rented until noon. Another insisted I have an MRI even though they already knew it was a stroke. The MRI concluded, “Sure enough dummy, you had a stroke. That will be $3,500, thank you very much.”
• I get dizzy and see four of everything. That might be fun if I was looking at Miss January but not if I’m sorting cattle. I suspect the dizziness is caused by all the drugs I’m taking which raises an interesting question. Do I want to die by an overdose, or by getting run over by a 2,000 pound bull in the sorting alley?
• I got little red spots around my mouth. I thought it was a rash but it turned out to be stab marks where I missed my mouth with my fork.
I didn’t write this to make light of having a stroke. On the contrary, I’m suggesting you pay attention to the warnings because if you get to a hospital soon enough they can give you a shot that will lessen the damage. I also wrote this as a reminder for you to appreciate all the little things in life you take for granted. I know I did.