My pre-Stroke tragedy
On a Thursday afternoon, August 14 2008, a young woman on her
cellphone ran a stop sign and smashed her blue car into the driver’s
side of my white minivan. My three daughters were secured in their car
seats in the back. All that I had to secure me during the crash was a
faulty seat belt. My head rocketed to the steering wheel, and the
air bag didn’t deploy. I’ve seen this scene replay like a PTSD soldier,
re-traumatized by memories again and again. Eventually I did get over the car accident. Now it just appears like old movie snapshots buried in my
My right carotid artery was injured by the ‘blunt force’ trauma from
my own seatbelt. No-one, neither my doctors or my brain surgeons, knew what caused my stroke. Lying in the hospital bed, towards the beginning of
2009, I had a feeling that my faulty seat belt was the reason for my stroke.
I checked my girls’ bodies to make sure that they were safe and unharmed,
and I gathered them in my arms. But, I did not check myself. I remember
that I cuddled them in the grass near the wrecked minivan.
I didn’t go to the emergency room, because all that I wanted to do was
get my precious daughters back home. The policeman was finishing his
report and I asked him, “would it be okay to take this wobbly wreck
of a vehicle and get my children home?”
“Yes”, he said. I was driving in the downtown area and all the while
the minivan was shrieking, bent metal on metal. I remember seeing
a young woman on the sidewalk put her hands over her ears.
Later, instead of getting checked out at a hospital, I phoned the
driver’s insurance company, I took the Saturn to the body shop, I went
to get a rental car, I packed for a late summer camping trip, I fed
my girls, I did internet business from my home office, making sure
that my clients were satisfied, I loaded up the minivan. And, I remember my ex-wife yelling at me. Why? Because I had been a slave to her. Because
I was a slave to my workaholism. And then we headed to the Smokey
Mountain National State Park near where I live in Asheville, NC.
On route, a police car stopped me because I was going too fast on the
way to Pigeon Forge, TN. As I drove through the National forest I
began to go crazy. Once we arrived at the campground, I obsessively
locked and unlocked the minivan, locked and unlocked, locked and
unlocked it. I felt very anxious for some unknown reason. I was paranoid.
The ex-wife and eldest & middle child trooped down a 45 degree slope
to our camp site. I had to carry the cooler, the sleeping bags, a
tent, the food and the baby. After we set up camp and ate we went to
sleep. Suddenly before dawn awoke and began shouting to my wife “Let’s have sex!”
My daughters were in the tent. How could I know. My neck’s artery was
‘woken up’ by the newly-formed blood clot that was going up
to the left hemisphere my brain. Thus began an amazing change. My true
emotions, long hidden by my workaholism, began cascading out of my
shattered brain, exposing the erroneous persona masks I had worn for so
long. I lost my logic and my manners. I cried a lot and professed my
love for nature, pretty women and my stillborn inner child.
After we returned from camping I began to change even more. One
afternoon, I jumped out of the car in my driveway and grabbed my
neighbor, who who is 6′ 3″and weighs about 180 pounds (I am 5’10” and
155 pounds) and twirled him above my head going ultra-speedy. I began
meditating. When I looked into a mirror in the closet I saw a flip-book of
all the many different personas I had developed over my lifetime. And,
I saw my monster. It was hiding behind my back. All the pain that I
encountered in my life was stuffed into my monster. At that time I
wrote in my journal, “…The Handler [persona] places the [inner]
Child in medical coma to prevent abuse & damage.” Little did I know
that I would soon be in a medical coma for ten days.
A couple of weeks later, as a migraine roared through my skull, I pinched
my eyelids shut and lay down. Then for Thanksgiving, I drove down to
Tybee Island for a holiday weekend with my daughters and my wife. I
was feeling exhausted. I thought, “maybe I am stressed out by the
pile of orders on my website. The road trip. Entertaining the kids.” I didn’t know it, but this was a precursor of my stroke.