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The Unshakeable Void of an Unstable Stroke Victim

“He was the nearest thing to a dead man on earth.” ― Dalton Trumbo, Johnny Got His Gun

Earlier this month, Tulsa KJRH anchor Julie Chin suffered a minor stroke live on the air. The story went viral nationally and helped highlight the symptoms of a stroke to doom-scrollers and cable news passers-by all across the globe.

You can watch the video of it here. You can read Julie's Facebook PSA salvation about the experience below...

While I am sympathetic to Julie's ordeal and thankful she's okay, I will say she is lucky to be coming out of this with a bit of blindness and possibly a book deal. I hope she never has to go through the terror of a stroke again.

Motivated by Julie's words – and because I’m borrowing time right now and, well, my memoirs won’t write themselves – here's a bit about my personal stroke experiences...

When I survived my first stroke, truthfully, I felt that the world was my oyster. While I had momentous discomfort and nearly lost my life, it was nice to see that people actually cared about me. When I got out of the hospital, I embraced the experience and recovery and was a man renewed, watchful of my life and body for the first time in ages. Like a vociferous porn star with a salicaceous tell-all book, I was open to the world for all to see!

But, when I had my second (massive) stroke in February 2022, something changed.

I was laying in my bed, at least thirty minutes into Robert Altman’s Nashville. I began to fluff my pillow when a strange feeling of darkness – from my meaty shoulder to the bony tips of my hand – draped over me. I crashed onto the hardwood floor and I knew it was a stroke—it had to be a stroke.

The next part is mostly blurry. On the unswept floor, I tried to gather myself to call the paramedics, and stop the boozy blur of my motor skills from going bye-bye. Through my drool, I was able to place a call for help, honestly more concerned about the well-being of my dog Sean than myself.

The last thing I really remember is the emergency services making their way up my stairs. I knew Sean was going to be okay, and I prepared for an expected trip to the underworld, one more time.

But that didn't happen.

The next thing I remember is waking up in a hospital bed, my extremities not working as if I was trapped in a living nightmare. I must have been in bed for hours, unable to make the slightest movements. I felt as if I was in that book Johnny Got His Gun (Think "One," Metallica fans). I was stumbling through a literary Hell, with no way out and no bookmarks.

Although I made slight and gradual improvements, this is how I felt the next few months. I tried to communicate, but all I got was stilted mumbles, nonsensible warblings, and the promised torment of trying to communicate to displeased results. But I got through that, for the most part, and I'm able to slowly and tediously write these words.

Six months later, I am now staying at my mother’s place, being shuttled back and forth from appointments with doctors, physical therapists, and speech pathologists. I have regained most of my facilities, with my temporary-memory shot and a slight limp on my right leg, and get to review one restaurant a week for this website.

But the worst part is my speech—it's mostly mangled and occasionally unintelligible, but, thanks to the Creator, I can still write, for the most part.

So, I am thankful for Julie Chin and every person who has/had a “near miss” stroke. They're the "lucky" ones. But I mourn for all the stroke victims who are buried six feet under the ground, and especially those who are not, and instead spend life as a wordless void, with no muscle control and no speech for them to come back, unable to even signal in morse code "S.O.S. Help Me."

They are the unluckiest people in the world.

If you have a free minute, check out these stroke symptoms at the CDC website. Knowing and understanding them can be a life or death decision, and help you survive yet another difficult day.


Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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