Wednesday night I had what was, fortunately, a small stroke. Not the kind caused by a blockage, but the kind resulting from high blood pressure and stress, and possibly involving a genetic predisposition. I noticed that I could not hold on to the soap to wash my hands, nor could I type well-—all the right hand letters came out wrong as my fingers missed the keys. Went into Cedars-Sinai, spent one night in the critical care unit and one in a regular ward, and now I'm home. I'll have to take a modest pill for at least a year, spend a week or two staying home and doing not much of anything—though I can take walks around the neighborhood—and can begin resuming my normal physical activities—including bicycle riding—at ten percent of their intensity for the first week, increasing the "dosage" by ten percent each week. However, I have to stay away from activities that involve heavy strain, such as lifting etc., for longer, don't know how long yet. I also have to take my blood pressure daily with a little machine (fortunately quite inexpensive) probably pretty much from now on.
There were many years leading up to this—I've always been an anxious person, and even took treatment for anxiety back when I had insurance coverage. However, I got lazy and probably a little cocky too, and sloughed off doing my relaxation exercises for...well, several years, if I should be honest. Once I built my little clothing business up very nicely, I got away from a very bad job situation I was in during my last years in the photo biz. But that was just in time to watch the Great Recession gnaw at that business and chew it down by half.
During all this time, I was almost the only person taking care of my mother's affairs during her last years, which involved nearly daily obligations. After she died, leaving a trust and several conflicting wills, the family conflicts began. At the same time we had lost our medical coverage, so went to doctors much less often.
Combine that with my habit of taking all obligations to heart, and being even more pushy with myself than with others, and what happened is less surprising.
The bike riding, as if often does, gave me a reserve of physical strength that is helping to speed up the recovery, but I still have a healing wound, even though it can't be seen and its effects are by now, four days later, unnoticeable to any but doctors and myself.
If it weren't medically unwise, I'd slap myself upside the head, since much of what I have to do, to fulfill the neurologist's prediction that if I take care of myself he won't have to see me for another thirty or forty years, are things (especially attitudinal changes) I've already learned but did not put into practice, having become addicted to an exaggerated sense of responsibility.
But that's another, longer story, and not for this venue.
I won't be participating in as many meetings and events for a relatively short while, and will cut out peripheral projects for the foreseeable future.
Thank you all for reading this far (if you have), and with luck and diligence I'll continue annoying the blogosphere for a long time to come.