If you’ve ever visited the About Me section of apoplectic.me, you may recognize this picture:
(Actually, it could do with a bit of an update. I’ll do that when I’m done here.)
That’s four years ago, and I don’t really remember anything about the circumstances. Well, y’know, I had recently suffered a catastrophic haemorrhagic stroke. I’m pretty sure about that. But, other than that….
Just like the Dubliner recovering from a vicious beating in my short story Phoenix Park (paywall), I was having great difficulty remembering where I was, when I was, and even the details of who I was. Remembering my age was difficult, because my birthday had only taken place a couple of weeks earlier and hadn’t had time to settle.
Mrs Stroke bloke will ask from time to time, ‘Do you ever think about your stroke? Are you aware of it?’ I think she’s still a little surprised when I tell her that, yes, the residual deficiencies are always there. I’m always more or less aware of them. Particularly when I’m tired. Of course, I have been very lucky. I’m fairly mobile, and given the location of my bleed, my expressive abilities are in good shape. And the odd sensitivity of my left side is weirdly enjoyable, in the right context.
The emotional lability has passed, too. Although the tough old British veneer, the Scottish dragonhide, remains more or less shed. For which I am glad.
Most of the time, I’m also glad to say, I’m not really thinking of my stroke. But if, say, I’m in a crowded space filled by furniture and people, it’s hard not to. Mrs Stroke Bloke is still a bit traumatized by one of our first evenings out after The Event. We had gotten tickets, pre-Event, to see the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center. The stairs were vertiginous, and the rows of seats were rammed. It was a loooong way down.
Even this last weekend, four years on, I was at a night of spoken word and music in Edinburgh with Mrs Stroke Bloke and another Beth, our pal Beth Cochrane the writer. It was a little less steep, and the capacity was smaller, but it was still rammed.
As I picked my way through chairs and legs, my own left leg would drag round chair legs, using their presence to counteract deficiencies and traces of “left-side neglect”. Onstage, Beth C introduced a storyteller who’d been published in a bunch of journals and had suffered a massive haemorrhagic stroke.
“Not that he likes to talk about it!”
And you know, strokes are my jam, but I didn’t recognize the guy at all.
Interrobang w/Cochrane and Brown is appearing as part of the Oxjam Edinburgh Takeover on 15 October, and then the first Friday of each month through the end of the year at Woodland Creatures on Edinburgh’s Leith Walk. I won’t be banging on about it any more here, but you can find out more at interrobang.scot and on the Tweetie Box @InterrobangEdin.If that’s your bag.
Thanks to Friends of the Blog, Nerd Bait‘s Prof Paul and MouthNoise Steph, for providing music, and to everyone who came along to Interrobang: The First Time. You can find more of Paul and Steph being brilliant both with and without me at Nerd Bait’s Soundcloud page.