It all started last April when I awoke in the middle of the night with the A/C remote in my hand but couldn’t figure out how to operate it. I tried to speak my thoughts out loud but the words came out as gibberish. I couldn’t speak. It was unbelievable. But I knew then I had suffered a stroke.
Next morning I discovered to my dismay that I couldn’t write either, except with great difficultly. I needed to see a doctor. After several minutes and numerous failed attempts I finally was able to scrawl out on a note pad in block letters the message: “I HAD A STROKE,” and took it to my doctor’s office. As a general practitioner he knew immediately when he saw it that there was nothing he could do. He made an appointment for me to go to a hospital right away to see a neurologist.
A CAT scan determined that it was indeed a stroke affecting the speech area of my brain. Thankfully there was no bleeding and minimal damage. Blood thinner medication and frequent medical monitoring will be necessary for the rest of my life but it was a huge relief to know that my speech and related skills would slowly be restored to mostly normal within the next six months.
So I left the hospital that day with a smile on my face and the feeling that this old man had dodged a medical bullet. Little did I know then that my confrontation with the ultimate Authority was not over; not by any means; it was only the beginning of a long ordeal.
Not long after, I was stopped on my motorbike at a traffic light when suddenly I was hit hard from behind and woke up in an ambulance on the way to a hospital. Among several contusions and abrasion injuries my R shoulder was fractured. My lower spine (diagnosed much later) was fractured. A deep vein thrombosis developed in my R leg. After preliminary treatment I insisted and was allowed to go home – I had a small dog to take care of -- but the next morning I was racked with severe pain and couldn’t get up. Another ambulance was called to take me back to the hospital.
Bug, my beloved little 13-year-old Chihuahua dog, was taken to the vet/pet hospital/hotel to be cared for while I was gone. He couldn’t understand what had happen to his dad. When I got out of the hospital and brought him home, he couldn’t understand why I was so different, so crippled, unhappy, and in so much pain. He was traumatized. It was too much for him. Very soon, his health started to fail; he became infected, wouldn’t eat, and wouldn’t come out of his crate.
Due to my own condition I couldn’t give him the care he needed so he had to go back to stay with the vet. Not long afterward the vet called to tell me that he had died. I had to go to the office to see him dead in a cardboard box, pet him for the last time, cry my heart out and say my goodbyes.
That’s where I’ve been these last few months. Today, I’m still in much pain, have many physical limitations, but am doing OK and slowly getting a bit better day by day. All of the considerable medical treatment I’ve needed has been entirely out of pocket because my Medicare benefits aren’t payable in Thailand. But the loss of my little dog, Bug, was the lowest point and caused the most grief for me by far in this horrible ordeal.
Of course, my confrontation with the ultimate Authority is not over, just as it is never over for you and me and for everyone. It’s an epic struggle for us all. The ultimate Authority is nature, i.e. the reality of existence. It is and always will be. Most people call it God. That’s fine for those who like to put a human face upon it.
Yet we’re all confronting the same ultimate Authority!