I Went To A Wedding And My Brain Aged 36 Years
Celebrating life while dancing with the Grim Reaper
The afternoon was beautifully perfect. The sun warm, highlighting the lush grasses of the countryside, shining down on the bride and groom.
Family and friends gathered for a celebration of love and life.
After the ceremony, guests wandered off to the bar and shade — a time to mingle and have a drink. A chance to catch up with family and friends and make new acquaintances.
10 minutes later, my partner summed up the moment.
“I knew something was wrong. Will doesn’t litter.” — Jo Anne
It’s true. I don’t. Not intentionally. I’m decent and respectful like that.
I’d dropped my empty when I blacked out.
One moment, I was sitting and noticing my eyesight had become blurry, thinking, ‘geez, these two beers have kicked in fast and hard…’
I woke to my partner looking me in the eye, holding my face and calling my name. Someone was behind me, pulling off my suit jacket. Another person was loosening my tie.
The words “stroke” and “ambulance” were ricocheting off the faces standing around me.
While everyone seemed to be talking at once, internally I was scrambling, running a diagnostic self-check while talking and answering questions. I’m talking coherently, aren’t I? Am I slurring? I don’t think I’m slurring.
Please don’t tell me I’m slurring.
A nurse, my first new acquaintance, checked on me — asked me questions, listened and watched me, took my pulse.
Within moments, I felt fine again. Eyesight clear, no ill effects.
I tried to put everyone else’s mind at ease while thinking, ‘What the hell just happened?’.
I mean this article to be a brief exploration of life and death. Lasting no longer than the time I was away from the wedding.
I was at peace. To me, I wasn’t crashing or dying; I was napping.
It would have been a rather nice way to go out. For me. When my time comes.
To friends and loved ones, it was frightening. As scary as it was sudden. Suddenly slumped, eyes partially open, arm dangling, unresponsive.
For me, the fear was in the returning. The word ‘stroke’ strikes fear. The word ‘ambulance’ sounds like an inconvenience, regardless of it being the smart decision that could save my life.
My parents lived to be 86 and 87.
Bowing out at age 54? Dammit, no! I feel cheated.
No; not now; I’m not ready.
Worse, now I’m awake. I can see the fear in other eyes. If I die, I die. But don’t leave me incapacitated. Unable to be present in my partner’s life, in my son’s life… in my own life.
But does any of that matter? It’s likely I won’t get to choose when or where.
Better that I can make peace with that reality.
Hopefully I also have, and make use of, the time to help my loved ones make peace with that too.
Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA)
Aka: a mini stroke
In the two minutes it’s taken you to read this, I bounced back from my sudden nap. My vision cleared, and I felt fine. No symptoms and no ill effects. I avoided an ambulance ride and, while I refrained from drinking and dancing for a couple of hours, I returned to join the wedding celebration.
I may have gotten lucky.
Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA): “A brief stroke-like attack that, despite resolving within minutes to hours, still requires immediate medical attention to distinguish from an actual stroke. A transient ischaemic attack may be a warning sign of a future stroke.” — Mayo Clinic
Thanks to the care and concern of loved ones, I have sought medical attention. Lab tests and scans will, ideally, diagnose whatever the hell that episode was and help guide me in my future.
Should I have sought medical attention sooner? Yes.
Like I said, I was lucky.
And knowing is far better than being left to wonder… or to Google.
“If a stroke is untreated for a full 10 hours, the brain ages up to 36 years.” — Dr. Google
That would make my brain now 90.
Funny, I feel lucky and young again.
I’m not resigned to death, nor do I have a fatalistic outlook. My thoughts and exploration by writing are for finding peace and hopefully to free myself to live fully and contented in whatever time I have left. Be that 50 years or 5 hours.
My reason for writing this out loud? I never knew about TIAs until a few days ago. But they are a classic case of forewarning.
I consider that a blessing.
Life can be gone in the breath of a heartbeat.
The last year alone has taught me that. No matter age or health.
Don’t assume you have X number of years left.
Make peace with that reality.
Embrace life and live it without fear.
Thanks for reading.
Note: Blacking out is not always a symptom of TIA.
This is only a summary, so far, of my case and incident. You’ll find very little expert advice in this reading other than being made aware and knowing a few of the signs and symptoms.
Always seek proper medical attention immediately.
And don’t Google