It's impossible to brace yourself for a stroke. One moment you're going about your daily life -- pushing a shopping cart in a supermarket, waiting in line at a bank, shaving in front of a mirror -- and the next everything is black. No warning, just a power outage of the head computer.
That was my experience, anyway.
At the age of 34, I had a stroke, which, I'm sure you've already kenned, I survived. I was lucky for two reasons: I was on our sofa at the time, so I didn't fall and hit my head nor break any bones, and it was only a minor stroke. Because I was "young," the doctor said. I have paresthesia in my hands and feet occasionally, especially at night, and I sometimes twist my mouth in a way that makes it look as though I'm unhappy, but otherwise it's been back to normal, save one disquieting side-effect:
When is the next one coming?
I don't live the healthiest of lifestyles. I drink too much, smoke too much. And dealing with stress is a cause-effect perpetual motion machine. Having a stroke didn't change that. In fact, it made it worse. When Death knocks on your door, even the slightest tap-tap-tap sounds like a clap of thunder, and having that constantly weigh on your mind is hard.
Forgetting it has been a breeze, though. Closing a door is easier than opening it, no? It's ironic that to forget my brush with death I continue to flirt with it, but what's that saying about keeping your enemies closer?
Human beings -- of which I am, somewhat embarrassingly, a club member -- are resilient. I want to live more than I fear dying. So every morning I wake up, get dressed, go about my business, keeping always in mind (but trying to ignore) that there's a clock counting down.
"Not today," I say to myself every morning before I leave for work. "Not tomorrow," I say before going to bed.
I'm usually right about that. One day I'll be wrong, though.
But only once.