I feel you

Well, I did promise that I’d chat about strokes this week. This is nominally a stroke blog, after all.

Not a heart attack blog, Dave.

David Gahan of Depeche Mode knows what it’s like to die, more or less. And to some degree, so does former teacher Eric Sinclair.

[Sign up for the Apoplexy Newsletter – it’s like experiencing death!]

Although he looks fit and active in the 1993 video for I Feel You, later that year, Depeche Mode’s David Gahan

suffered a minor heart attack during a performance in New Orleans, leaving his bandmates to improvise an encore without him.

I wonder if I should leave Nerd Bait and join up with these guys…

Whaddya mean, I'm not coming back?!?!
We’re The Wedding Present, and we don’t do encores.

Gahan describes overdosing on a speedball three years later, when his heart stopped for two minutes until he was revived by paramedics, in the following terms

All I saw and all I felt at first was complete darkness. I’ve never been in a space that was blacker, and I remember feeling that whatever it was I was doing, it was really wrong.

Very rock’n’roll, yeah?

JAMC, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, and Eric Sinclair
Rock and roll? I’ll give ye rock and roll, sonny!

Scottish schoolteacher Eric Sinclair woke up in an Oslo hotel on the day he was going to go for a round of golf with his son. He was suffering a stroke. Not that he knew that yet.

Yesterday, twelve years after his stroke, Eric spoke to BBC Radio Scotland’s Brainwave programme about what it felt like. I was interested to hear about it, now that my stroke is around four-and-a-half years in the past. I suppose for both of us it was a momentous moment – one that changed everything – so there is an odd pull to revisit it.

You took out your tongue piercing, right?
Pull? This has a magnetic strength 140,000x the Earth’s gravitational pull!

He couldn’t move his leg. Or his left arm. And the arm felt very heavy. His mouth felt very heavy.

He felt weak and emotional. Had no idea what was happening.

He’d left his phone by the side of the bed so he could call his wife when he woke up for their anniversary. But his voice didn’t really work.

He supposes the word stroke went through his mind.

Not now, Popeye – that's a very distasteful joke!
I’m having a stroke. Ack-ack-ack!

I remember a fuzzy feeling in my left side, a tingling. And I think I my limbs were heavy. I was thinking about a heart attack, rather than stroke, because of my family history.

Eric was thinking of a stroke, it turns out, because of the way the EMT had said, I know what this is, and because when they took him to the emergency room they told him they were going to do a brain scan. He asked if he was going to die.

Are you a even real doctor?
🎶You’re gonna die, you’re gonna die, you’re gonna die alone🎶

So it turns out our experiences were quite different. Regular readers may recall that I had lost consciousness long before reaching the ER, and one of the last things I can remember was coming to my own conclusion that death was very much on the cards. I clung on to the sight of my now wife’s eye as the last connection to this world. It turns out that was just enough.

But a few things were the same. Eric remembers how emotional lability crept up on him. Even recalling it now makes him quite emotional. And as I listen to Eric describe his determination to recover, I find it quite moving.

That's Malcolm Middleton from Jakey Santa above
Oh Christ, don’t you start again!

Oh, and most importantly, something that is always similar is how important it is to get treatment as quickly as possible. All the doctors on Brainwaves focus on that. So do all the stroke organizations.

So, if you ever think you or someone you’re with might be having  a stroke, however it feels, remember – F-A-S-T. Time is of the essense.

OK. There's no need to look sarky about it!

I’d be quite emotional if you weren’t here.

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