Sunday, November 23, 2008


Yesterday I woke up around four, got up to head for the head and the room reeled as if I'd been aboard ship for days. Still half in a dream, I figured it was just the unsteady foot of too much darkness and too little sleep. But deep inside my cerebral sponge lived the word - stroke.

Three hours later I awoke again, this time reeling toward the bathroom for a single aspirin. I said to Jenny, "I need to go to the hospital."

All the debaucheries, the drink, the meat, the late night rambles that have beached my carcass on this aging shore, swam through my head as Jenny drove me toward the ER. The fat that swirled throughout my blood became a living thing, and not merely numbers on a printout. My family history, let free from its resting place, swirled around the car whispering one word - stroke.

Kinder choruses sang optimistic caveats of ear infections and lesser dires. But all the angelic voices eventually spiraled down and, after clearing their throats whispered - stroke.

Without cataloguing my past, I assure you that I have been places and endured things that have scared me to the marrow. I have wrestled with panic and beaten it, and know that I have the courage, if not of the warrior, than at least as much as most men.

But that single word - stroke - scared me more than any outward threat I've ever known.

The hospital took me in quickly. It was early and the ER was barely populated. The nurses questioned me, took my blood pressure and made me comfortable. The doctors asked more questions, all while probing and tapping my corpus with trained fingers, listening for the untuned tympany of disease.

They whisked me into a mechanical room where they took deep soundings of my interior. The technician, an aspiring writer, plumbed my brain with rougher instruments and it was a welcome diversion.

In the end, as in all sappy endings that go on far too long ( think Lord of the Rings, a movie ending that overstayed its welcome like a broke in-law), the answer was an anticlimax. Vertigo was the word. The cause unknown, fitting for one who lives with mysteries. Tomorrow I will see another doctor, and quite possibly another on Tuesday.

Later, as I lay dazed by drugs, I spun around the TV dial and just as a fated roulette player who has put his last chip on double-aught sees it come up roses, Vertigo with Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak came up on the screen. How could I not watch?

It had been a while since I'd seen this movie, and remembered fevered pre-psychedelic camera work and Bernard Herrmann's usual high-drama Hitchcock score. I also remembered all the great shots of San Francisco. The movie, and the city, were a welcome tonic for an afternoon on the couch.

I learned that Vertigo was a flop when it came out and critics had an almost casual dismissal of the film. But later critics have taken a shine to it, some lifting it to the top of the Hitchcock canon. The AFI places it as #9 in the best 100 films of all time and tops in mysteries, a height that causes my head to spin a bit.

Or maybe that's just the vertigo talking.

Tomorrow, our correspondent drives himself to the doc's and to work, all the while hoping a cop doesn't pull him over and ask him to walk a thin white line.


pattinase (abbott) said...

God, glad the end was better than the beginning. I suffer from vertigo and often it's a sinus thing. If I use a little kit called sinus cleanse, it helps. Now if I could figure out why I sometimes faint, I'd be all set.

JD Rhoades said...

Dude, do NOT fucking scare me like that.

Hope they figure out what's wrong soon and fix it.

Bryon said...

I was just hoping it wasn't my choice of barbecue that caused it

David Terrenoire said...

Ha, Bryon, barbecue has wonders, but it isn't that powerful.

Or maybe I'm doing it wrong.

Dusty, you can't get rid of me easily.

Patti, we should go drinking together because we're already half way there.

pattinase (abbott) said...

More than that, I fear.

Stuart MacBride said...

Well done on the not-having-a-stroke front, David. Having recently played the 'hospitalised with chest pains' game myself, I know it's a lot less fun than people think.

And the nurses aren't nearly kinky enough.

Maybe if you drink enough you'll achieve equilibrium?

Chris said...


After reading your story, Rebecca and I are concerned that we may have suffered a stroke. But we would at least call in to work. Right, Scott? Know that we're all worried and exhausted from reading your entry. And don't worry, we haven't divvied up all your stuff yet. (Although Connie is eyeing your Blue Meanie.)

Hugs and Kisses,

The Misfits from MicroMass

Scott said...

That's right. David should have at least called in to work. Though at his advanced age, it's easy to forget.

Glad you're not stroking out on us. Be well. Live long and prosper...

Oh, wait, you're a writer. Forget that prosper part. ; )


norby said...

Knowing that my uncle had no idea he was having a stroke until someone else pointed out his symptoms to him, I was curious about what was happening to you, but still, dude, that was not a cool way to write a blog post.

Hope your doc can help with the vertigo and you get over it quickly, maybe it's just some inner ear thing.

Take care...

Jeff Shelby said...

Dusty said: "Hope they figure out what's wrong and fix it."

I think we should have a narrower focus here...

Glad you're sort of alright.