Wow. It's been a while since I posted here. But, I have been busy with school, work, and life in general.
want share a story with you. Something happened last month that made
me realize it's time for me to stop postponing things I "mean to do" and
start DOING the things I "mean to do".
Last month I
had several strokes. The doctors disagree on exactly how many I had.
One says several dozen, possibly a hundred or more small strokes over a
three day period, but another thinks the number is far smaller. The
only thing they are sure of is that I had at least three.
"Story" starts on Sunday, December 15th... But, I am going to start on
Tuesday night, December 17, 2013. You see, it was on Tuesday that my
wife realized there was a story being told.
December 17th I came home from work, changed into some sweat pants and a
sweatshirt because I intended to work on our dining room table that I
am building. But my cat wanted to be pet, so I lay on the bed and began
petting her. And I fell asleep. While this was not normal for me, I
had been working very hard recently and Trish thought I was just tired
and needed some sleep. So, when it came to time to go see a friend's
child in his school's Christmas performance, she left me sleeping on the
bed, took our kids and left.
When she came home an
hour later she found me standing in our kitchen. I didn't know where
she had been. I didn't know who the child was she went to see. Then I
asked where we were and "why are we here"? She chuckled and told me to
stop goofing around, to which I replied, "I'm not goofing around, why
won't you answer my questions?" And I began to weep. "Why am I so
She called my son Jonathon, and when he came
into the kitchen I looked at him and said, "Who are you?" And before
Jonathon could say anything, Trish told him "We need to take Dad to the
Hospital, he's having a stroke. Get your shoes back on, now." She
called to my daughter Chyenne and we all got in the car and Jonathon
drove us to the hospital.
I don't remember any of
that. In fact, I only remember two things between Sunday and Tuesday
(remember, I said the story really began on Sunday...) I remember that
on Sunday at church the offering plate was passed after the sermon
instead of before the sermon as it normally is. And on Monday evening I
met a good friend of mine in a parking lot to exchange some DVDs. I
remember meeting with him, I remember our less than two minute
conversation, but that's it.
That's it. That's all I
remember. I don't remember writing a final paper for the class I was
taking that Sunday afternoon. I don't remember going to work Monday or
Tuesday. I don't remember shopping on my way home from work on Monday
(I only know I did that because I found the purchase record on my Credit
Card statement last week! I got a great deal on a pair of biking
So, back to Tuesday night... My family took
me to the hospital and I was almost immediately admitted. I don't
remember the trip to the hospital. I don't remember arriving at the
hospital, the ER, etc. I know I woke up in the hospital on Wednesday
morning. I vaguely remember telling Trish goodbye when she left very
late Tuesday night, or should I say, very early in the morning on
The ONLY thing I never forgot is who Trish is. I never forgot my wife. Everything else. Literally, Everything else was gone.
wife came back to the hospital early on Wednesday. Wednesday was a
roller coaster ride. I was taken out of the room several times for
various tests, including an MRI of my brain, some x-rays, and a CAT Scan
of my heart and vascular system.
I was seriously
confused most of the day, but I was starting to regain some memory and
the weirdest part is that today I remember being so confused on
Wednesday. I was confused about everything. I didn't know what year it
was, I didn't know who was President, I didn't know how to take a pill,
how to use a fork, what kind of car I drive, where I live, what I like
to eat, etc.
It was all pretty downright frightening.
Trish said I was so desperate to remember things that I asked questions
constantly. As I would remember things I would declare it, then look to
her and ask if I was right. "I like to quilt and I have a white sewing
machine, Right?" And when I had trouble remembering something, I would
ask and then after hearing the answer start weeping, and asking, "Why
can't I REMEMBER!? I should remember these things!"
thing I remembered on my own without any prompting is that I have four
children. Trish said I declared it so loudly people in the hallway
could hear me, "I have FOUR children, Joshua, MaryAnna, Jonathon and
Chyenne!" The first several times I declared this I would apparently
turn to her for confirmation. I can not tell you how frustrating it is
to actually have to THINK about the names of your own children. But
once I remembered, I was determined not to forget again. I declared
their names about every 30 minutes all day Wednesday.
second thing I remembered on my own was that I love Jesus. When I
asked Trish, she said, "Yes, honey, you love Jesus very much". I told
one of the young men who wheeled me from my room to a test and back
again that I had four children and that I loved Jesus. He said, "Cool.
I love Jesus too!"
All day Wednesday was like this. I
would remember things seemingly out of the blue. There was no rhyme or
reason to what I remembered and what I didn't know. I couldn't recall
that I like cottage cheese, when I took a bite of it I said, "This isn't
Ice Cream! Do I actually like this stuff!?" I didn't know what fruit
was, but when I took a bite of pineapple, I looked at Trish and said,
"You like this stuff a lot. What is it called?" She was rather amused
at that one... "How do you remember what I like when you can't remember
what YOU like?"
Once I had remembered Jonathon's name,
and he saw that I was beginning to remember a few things, and after
hearing Mom laugh at me for remembering what she liked, he started
having a little fun with it all. As he was leaving once, he whispered
in my ear that I should "Be sure to order ketchup with your food... You
love ketchup." Good thing Trish was doing the ordering... I hate
ketchup! He also got excited when I thought I drove a red car... "Yes
Dad, you do drive a little red car..." (My old car, his current car, is a
little red car...) Again, Trish set the record straight. "No honey,
you drive a blue Chevy Cruze." And I responded, "I drive a BOAT!?"
That led to some laughter and some explaining...
the end of the day Wednesday, the cobwebs were beginning to clear. I
remembered our Youth Pastor when he came to visit, but when he brought
up Belize, that drew a blank for me. Until we talked about it. Then I
remembered a few things about the mission trip. A spider crawling all
over the face of one of the teenagers. I remembered the rash that I got
which caused me to grow out my beard, which remains to this day (the
beard that is...)
I fell asleep several times
Wednesday, each time sleeping only 10 to 20 minutes, and when I would
wake up I felt like I had slept a full night. Each time I woke up,
Trish would have to tell me, "No, honey, it's still Wednesday." I was
frustrated, tired, and still very forgetful and "foggy". At Trish's
suggestion, the doctors sedated me so I could get a full night's rest.
I woke on Thursday it was as if nothing had happened. I remembered
everything. (Except for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. The doctors say I
may never regain memory of those days. As of this posting, I still have
gained no more memory of those days). But everything else is back.
All of my confusion, gone. I can remember being confused. I can
remember the things I was confused about. I can remember NOT
remembering. I can remember how frustrated I got TRYING to remember.
But, on Thursday it was as if a veil had been lifted. I was "Me" again.
doctors were blown away. They couldn't believe it. There was and
still is no real explanation. All the tests they had run Wednesday were
pointing to stroke, but there was little evidence of a stroke, at least
not a stroke large enough to cause the memory loss I experienced. I
say that because there was some evidence of "stroke activity" in my
initial MRI. They saw three small (very small) spots of "damaged
tissue". The "damaged brain tissue" was so small, the doctors all
agreed that the spots may not even be real, but artifacts of the
machine. So they sent me back for a second MRI. If the damage is real,
it should show up in exactly the same places. If those spots were due
to the machine, they wouldn't be there the second time.
damage is real. My second MRI shows the same tiny (think half a small
pin head) spots of damaged brain tissue. So, there is hard evidence of
strokes. Three of them. To make things even more interesting, the two
larger spots are exactly opposite each other in the right and left
hemispheres of my brain. Both appear to be spherical. Both
Neurologists said this is extremely odd. Neither had seen anything like
But. Aside from the three spots on the
MRI, there is nothing else in any of the testing that indicates that I
had any strokes at all. There is no indication of where a blood clot
would have come from to cause the strokes. My heart and vascular system
was looked at via Echo Cardiogram, Transesophageal Echo Cardiogram (a
TEE, a rather invasive Echo Cardiogram), and the CAT scan. Everything
is working as it should.
My blood was drawn so much I
teased one of the nurses that they needed to leave me at least a little
bit. She giggled and said, "Yeah. Sorry Paul, we have taken a lot,
haven't we?" My brain was looked at and tested with electrodes,
powerful magnets, etc.
Every single test they did (save the MRIs) came back "normal".
two days of testing, I was released. We had tested all we could test.
We know I had at least three strokes. We don't know why. And the
evidence of the strokes doesn't support the magnitude of the symptoms
and memory loss I experienced. In fact, as one of the Neurologists
said, "It doesn't even come close to what we would expect to see".
I experienced a traumatic brain injury due to stroke, but I have
returned to normal with no explanation at all. There is enough damaged
tissue that it can't be ignored, yet it's not enough to explain the
trauma. I believe I experienced a miracle.
whatever reason, I had at least three strokes. I had hundreds of people
all over the globe praying for me, and I believe God heard those
prayers and answered them with a miraculous healing. Trust me, I don't
by any means think I am special or that God loves me more than someone
who has not experienced a miracle. I do believe He wants me here, fully
capable to fulfill whatever it is He has for me in the future. I
believe this is why I was healed. Jonathon pointed out, "If nothing
else, this will make one heck of a sermon someday!"
may be another reason, too. As I have said several times, I had two
Neurologists looking after me. One is a believer and agrees with me. A
miracle is the only explanation that makes any sense at all. The other
is not a believer. I thank God for him, because he was determined to
figure this out. He is the one who ordered the second MRI (the one that
proved I DID have at least three strokes). He is the one who has
ordered extra blood tests. He is the one who, after seeing the Echo
Cardiogram decided to do the TEE so he could see my heart more clearly.
He didn't want to accept "A Miracle" as the answer, but even he
eventually admitted, "Sometimes the human body does things we just can't
explain..." To which I replied,
"That sir, is the definition of 'Miracle'".