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Strong George

Thanks everybody for the well wishes sent my way over the last week. For the folks who haven’t heard, I suffered two minor strokes late last month. I stupidly ignored the first one – there was no pain – and dismissed it as a case of being overly tired. The second one was impossible to ignore. At lunch at the Belmont Brewery in Long Beach, the conversation became disjointed, and although I could understand words and even phrases, I had no comprehension of what people were saying. I also had trouble seeing them. I did not tell anybody this information.

I have fought in a war, I have been in fist fights, I have lived by the male code – if you’re not dead, shake it off and move on. I drove home, not my best decision considering my limited vision, and fell into bed. Within seconds, I was asleep and slept until the next morning.

When I awoke, I was still having vision problems, although I still did not tell anyone. Finally, my wife, Carmela, nagged that information out of me. Unburdened by male pride and stubbornness, Carmela rushed me to Kaiser for an emergency eye exam, where they discovered I have glaucoma. They also discovered I had limited to no vision in the upper right quadrant of both eyes. That is not an eye problem – that is a brain problem.

By that evening, I was lying in a hospital room in one of those little backless gowns with an IV in my arm and peeing into a little plastic container with the help of my wife.Muf in hospital

When I was in Vietnam, Carmela was 9 years old. Too bad. We could have used somebody like her when the bullets started flying. This whole experience was much worse for her than for me, but she did not once fall apart, at least not until it was all over.

So I’m back. Not quite as strong as I was, but a lot smarter. I remain at high risk for yet another stroke until I can start taking a blood thinner – something I cannot do until the doctors are sure that any blood clot remaining in my brain has dissolved. Otherwise it could cause any remaining clot to break loose and trigger yet another stroke.

We hope to be able to start treatment in another week or so and to be in a better place by September.

Promises and advice to my friends – and even my enemies:

Take care of yourself. If you experience any confusion or other such symptoms, go immediately to the emergency room and tell them you think you may have had a stroke. There is a four-hour window in which they can mitigate the damage

Unless I regain full vision, I will not drive. Your children are safe from me

This final promise is to my loyal and loving wife. I plan to live forever. I go into this battle understanding, I probably will most certainly lose. But when that time does come I plan to go down fighting.

And finally, because of my eye problems, I will not be posting on Facebook or Twitter for the next month to give my eyes a chance to recover. If you want to contact me, my email address is: I won’t be checking it, but Carmela will.

Thank you for your well wishes, and I will be back in touch – hopefully thinner, healthier, and better looking.

Love to everybody and kisses to all the girls.

George Cunningham