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  • August 27, 2015

    I’M BACK (ALMOST, PRETTY MUCH, SORT OF)

    I’M BACK (ALMOST, PRETTY MUCH, SORT OF)
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    I’m not going to lie. Having a stroke, even a small one, is no walk in the park. It can shake you up, change the way you look at the world, and remind you that life does not go on forever. Life is finite. If there are things you want to accomplish, there are only so many years, so many months, and so many weeks, days, hours and minutes to accomplish them. This is true whether you are 7 years old or 70.

    Fortunately for me, my stroke turned out to be a minor one – a reminder from the gods about what’s important and what is not. Having seen the effect it had on my wife Carmela, I cannot, and will not call it a blessing, but you take from such experiences the things that are important and positive and accept the things that are not as part of the price you pay.

    I am on the rebound. I am not all the way back yet, but I hopefully will be soon. The scheduled CAT scan showed that any remaining blood clots in my brain are gone, so I am on warfarin – the generic name for Coumadin – a blood thinner that hopefully will prevent a repeat experience. Next week I will go back to have my eyes checked, to see if I have regained peripheral vision in my eyes. I am sure that I have. I find myself checking it all the time as Carmela drives through traffic. At first I thought maybe my peripheral vision was returning as the doctors said it might. Or was it just the result of wishful thinking? Now I am sure of it. The doctors will be checking it out next week and maybe, just maybe, I will be able to drive again. I hope so. Carmela, who hates to drive, hopes so, and so does our Yorkie son Henry, who likes to curl up on Carmela’s lap while I drive.

    I thank everybody for their kind cards and electronic messages of encouragement. I do plan to answer everybody, but it may take a little while. I still tend to tire easily.

    Lessons learned, big and small:

    As my pal, Freddy Nietzsche once said, anything that doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.

    Everybody from birth on, has a finite number of days on the planet. Identify what is important to you, learn from your mistakes, and try to take some joy in each and every day you have

    Warfarin, the blood-thinning drug that I am taking, was developed by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (the WARF in Warfarin) as a rat poison in 1948. It would be mixed with food bait, which rats would return to over a period of time to eat. It took about six days of returning to the same bait for the rat to accumulate a lethal dose, then he or she would quietly bleed to death internally. One popular conspiracy theory is that Nikita Khrushchev and others in the Soviet hierarchy used warfarin to poison Soviet strongman Joseph Stalin.

    With a little bit of luck, I should be back in the saddle soon, maybe even driving a car and working on my new book, “Nothing is Forever.” Until then, thanks to everybody for their kind thoughts and well wishes.

     –George Cunningham