Again? Seriously?

 

September 3, 2018

Well, I am back in the hospital. Yesterday afternoon the strokes symptoms worsened and I found myself on the floor once again. We talked to the home nurse who then suggested we come back in to get checked out and we did so. Then we made it to our Kaiser hospital in Irvine where I probably will be for a few days. MRI showed a new stroke but without new symptoms. The doctors are trying to figure out why I am having recurrent symptoms of the original stroke and how to stop that from happening.

 

IMG_2938

Devastated

About four hours after getting home from the hospital yesterday, my left side began feeling weaker than it had earlier. Out of an abundance of caution, we went back to the emergency room at Kaiser Irvine. To say I was disappointed when they admitted me overnight would be an understatement. I had another CAT scan and another MRI, both of which came up negative for another stroke. They released me about an hour and a half ago, but I’m now dealing with the realities of stroke recovery.

Taking a shower is an ordeal and very frustrating. Just walking in the house takes me a long time to get from my office to our bedroom which is only about 30 feet. I’ve been pretty much upbeat about this whole thing but right now I’m feeling somewhat defeated, and today I broke down and cried. I know it will get better, and it will just take time. Those of you who know me know I’m not good at waiting. No funny hospital gown story this time but it was somewhat comical trying to get my underwear and pants on.

Judy has been a trooper this past week, and I spent all of her time with me. I’m very thankful for a wife who loves me and cares for me.

https://pastandpresent.life

http://pastpresentlifestories.com

IMG_2936

Aftermath

Since many of you have heard, I thought you should hear from me personally. Yesterday afternoon after leaving a memorial service near the city of LA, my left leg started feeling strange. Within five minutes I couldn’t feel my arm/leg and speech was slurred. Judy was driving, and I asked her to take me to the hospital. Luckily we were at Kaiser hospital within 10 minutes making the whole episode about 20 minutes before I got to the hospital. I had had a stroke, and my left side was affected. After a CT scan, they gave me a potent medicine that was able to break up the blood clot in my brain. I did gain mobility again though it was somewhat limited last night.

Today my leg is almost normal. There is still weakness in my left arm. I should be able to go home tomorrow. I am thankful to God for the amazing way he provided for me to get where I need to quickly. 99% of the time I drive when Judy and I are together, but this day I asked Judy to drive so I could help her with her phone. Siri directed us a way home that we would not normally have gone, getting us to the hospital much quicker than we could possibly have gotten there. The doctor said that the medicine works very quickly but doesn’t normally work that fast. The nurse said it basically a miracle and she didn’t know my profession at the time. I will be OK although it’s going to take lots of therapy and probably learning to do some things again. I did not lose cognitive function, so that’s good! We covet your prayers and thank you for your concern. I probably won’t be able to write back to everyone because I can’t type at the moment. So if there are errors here blame Siri!

IMG_2929

Fear

February 2, 2019

I would love to say this was simply the behavior of a six-year-old. Honestly, this type of reaction has followed me all of my life. I remember failing at football, baseball, and basketball never to play those games again. I was embarrassed at my lack of athletic prowess and I allowed fear of failure to once again control me. I later would only choose to play games and sports that I was good at. As an adult, my mom bought me a T-shirt that read “If I can’t win, I don’t want to play.”

This fear of failure has followed me into adulthood. I had a few jobs where my independent streak has caused me grief and pain. I have panicked when a supervisor wanted to meet or it was review time. Some of this panic was justified, but in the last 10 years I have been relatively successful in what I set out to do and I have worked in places that understand my creative bent and desire to see things differently. It really makes no sense for me to fall back into the trap, but I still do it too often.

If you have been following my journey, some of these themes have presented themselves throughout my writing. Some of you will smile at the story of me not being able to go to the bathroom when others are around or having to get undressed in front of nurses. These are all symptoms at the same fear. It sucks. My mind seems to overtake my willpower and as of late, my muscles.

We had a trampoline in our backyard up until a couple years ago. Whenever I had to work on the roof and needed to get down, I would walk to the edge and jump off. The last time I attempted to do so I looked down and I could not wrap my mind around the idea of taking that leap, although I had done it dozens of times before. Nothing had changed but my head said no. This scenario has played out over the years over and over again. Fear takes control even though I know I can overcome it (I did eventually jump off by the way).

I’ve been walking with a cane for the last number of months. Last Monday evening I decided that I would try to walk in our hallway unassisted. When walking with the cane I have done okay, but trying to walk without it seem an impossibility. I could not bring myself to move one foot in front of the other. Here is where it gets crazy, I put my hands on the wall and made it a few steps. I then decided to put one finger on the wall with no pressure. I suddenly found myself able to walk down the hall. Somehow that one finger made all the difference the world.

It has now been a number of days and I have been able to make myself walk untethered when I wish. I cannot do it all the time due to the symptoms of the stroke. Some days my leg feels light and other days it feels like a boat anchor. On days that it is light, I will either trust my finger to guide me or simply let go. I will not be walking soon without the cane.

My point is, too often we allow fear to control our mind and circumstances. We limit ourselves.

I have purposely not included a Scripture verse to this post because I don’t believe it is as simple as that. I know well what was penned by Jesus’s best friend and cousin, John, that “perfect love casts out fear”. I believe that to be true but too often I allow my small mind to retreat back and not trust. My desire and hope is that all of you who struggle to know and understand, that I feel your struggle. I believe God is bigger than the circumstances and that eventually I will walk away from all of and see clearly God’s purpose (not that I believe God caused this, but I intently believe he has a purpose in it) in all of this.

Am I still struggling? Unfortunately, yes. Am I seeing God work? Yes!

Looking forward to walking unassisted and then, getting back on that bike.

Stroke

IMG_2924

August 25, 2018 (our 34th wedding anniversary). My life changed ten minutes after this photo was taken. I’m the tall guy in the middle.  I had been standing around talking to all these people pictured. They are friends I made 40 years ago at Christian Life Church in Long Beach California. It was both a happy and sad the reunion of people from our high school youth group. We had gathered to say goodbye to one of our own who passed away a week earlier after battling cancer for nearly a year. Most of us hadn’t seen each other in a very long time. It was fantastic to get caught up with one another. Little did I know that just minutes after this photo was taken that I would lose complete control of the left side of my body.

God was very gracious to us, and we were able to get to the hospital in record time. I was calm most of that initial experience. It wasn’t until late that night that the gravity of the situation hit me as I laid in a hospital bed and I cried.

The past couple of months have been like the memorial we had attended the day this happened. It has been both sad and joyful. For the most part, once I accepted the idea that it was this going to take a long time and was going to require much of both Judy and me, my attitude has been relatively good. Am I anxious? Absolutely.  Am I hopeful? Definitely. Do I have spells of depression? Yes. Do I believe that God has this? No question.  Like the leader of a local faith community who approached Jesus and confessed he was dealing with both Faith and doubt, I am dealing with uncertainty as I am confessing my faith.

Some people have asked me “What do you think God is trying to teach you by this?”  My response has been that I am learning a lot by the experience, but I in no way believe that God caused this to happen. We live in a fallen, broken world and our bodies simply break down.  There are lessons to be learned, and for me, most of them have been spiritual. I try to see what the possibilities are in any situation. The neuropsychologist I have been seeing warned me that I should not be a counseling situation with people from church. Basically, he was telling me “do not get in a position where you’re having a listen to people because you possibly will be emotionally unstable.” The funny thing is, the people I did spend time listening to were not from our church or not from my friend groups, but from people on the hospital staff. I got known around the rehab as Pastor Perry and had numerous conversations that led to Jesus. Honestly, I don’t think I could have avoided any of them, and I’m glad it did not.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned so far is that I have amazing friends and am reaping the rewards of investing in people.  Pouring into people is something that I tried to avoid when I was in high school and early college until the Lord grabbed hold of me and showed me that I needed to take the risk of loving people even though they may leave (I moved around a lot as a child). I learned that lesson on a trip to Australia back in 1980 when my fellow teammates were saying goodbye to the people we had spent a month with, and I was looking forward to going home and was glad that I was not crying and saying goodbye to people I’d never see again. That experience changed my life. It was one of many moments that I’m reflecting on now and seeing how God moved me from one place to another for his purposes.