Stroke of Luck or Near Debt Experience – Part 1

Three weeks into my time at home while my family is in New Hampshire for part of the summer I am still holding out hopes of accomplishing great and many things in my unfamily time. But, with one week left before I join them, I’m not sure what I’ve accomplished. And I had a headache. I don’t get headaches often.

The whole reason I stayed behind was because of a large work project. Suffice to say I needed to be here and my teacher wife – most call her Cynthia – is free as a bird – A Minneapolis Public School canary who will be going back to her coal mine in a short month.

I cleaned the house, painted the deck, ripped up the old carpet on porch and in the middle of carefully tearing out the tiles. I’ve put things away that have not been put away for months, moved the not being used stereo from the basement to living room to be used, cleaned my office and Cynthia’s studio and in between stopped occasionally to sit and watch some television.

On one of my sits in front of the television I turned it on to find Wheel of Fortune. I’ve never been a huge fan of the Wheel of Fortune, but I watched it for just a moment because I like to know what’s going on. And what’s going on is that Vanna White belongs to some incredible union. It must be the Local Letter Turners 648. She has a great gig. She’s been turning letters for thirty-one years. The letters used to be the old mechanical kind of letters that everyone used to turn by hand. Dear reader, you know the ones. I’m sure at some point one or more of you have held an internship or part-time job turning letters. At some point the letters entered the digital age and could light up to show the possibilities of vowels or consonants. Vanna must have some affiliation with NY stage teamsters. She kept the gig and now just approaches the letters and touches them ever so lightly as if giving a blessing from 1982 for the game to continue.

Good for her. But I just spent too much time watching and thinking about the Wheel of Fortune. I turned off the TV and noticed my headache poking at me from behind my right ear. I closed my eyes and reopened them. My right eye was blurry and watering a small amount. I hope I wasn’t half crying out of joy for Vanna White and the good gig she has going.

When I reopened my eyes I scanned around the clean room. As I scanned I noticed for the first time plants. I didn’t remember there being this many plants. Some had looks of horror on their little flower faces. Crap. Who was taking care of these plants? I did a quick internal check and realized that by default I was in charge of taking care of these plants. Of all the things Cynthia does in this house she must also find some time to give these plants what I am assuming would be water. But when is that done? How much? Ok, I’m not an idiot, I can figure that out.

As I thought back over the previous three weeks I do remember taking great pride in watering the orchid. The reason I remembered to water the orchid was because its instructions stated that it needed the equivalent of 3 ice cubes a week in water. There was easily at least one night in seven that I would make myself some kind of drink that would call for ice. As I was filling my glass my thoughts would turn to my ice buddy in the house.

“Here you go, dude plant,” I might say on Friday night. “On the rocks, I suppose.” I may add in a jovial manner. Now that I think back, I would have walked past three plants to give the orchid its high ball.

My head was throbbing and right eye was tearing up. Was I sad about starving the plants of water? I quickly watered the plants. I used very cold water. I assumed if I had not had water in over three weeks I would want it to be really cold. I even gave a little water to the cactus. I don’t know if it needed water, but I thought if it wasn’t thirsty, it could let it sit in the sand and evaporate into the air – where the other plants got most of their water.

While I was at it, I even threw away the flowers that were cut and sitting in perfectly good water. They had died simply by the fact that they were cut. One such flower stuck onto a neighboring glass vase and made me pry its little flower carcass off the glass. The headache chimed in as if to punish me. Now the headache also sent a tingling spike to my face. It made me squint and wonder if this dead flower with the death grip had something to do with this. That’s silly. These plants will be ok and they can’t mess with my oxygen – unless, of course they can – by not outputting any. Hmmmm.

I brushed my teeth in preparation for my teeth to lie down and rest – and smell horrible the next morning from doing nothing more than being breathed on all night. I like to blame the smug attention-getting teeth, even though I suspect other culprits.

In the process of brushing the coddled teeth I noticed a new development. When swishing water in my mouth in what is commonly referred to as the rinse cycle, I realized that the right side of my mouth couldn’t contain the water. It felt like the right side of my mouth was numb. Oh, oh. Just what I need right now – a stroke.

I needed to remain calm. Let’s not assume the worst. I had a runny nose. If I had a cold would I then have a stroke? The headache was coming on for several days. Oh, oh. This could be an aneurysm like a time bomb in my head waiting to blow. Wait. I thought I had specifically asked myself to remain calm. What does one do when faced with a potential life threatening situation? Oh, oh. I hope my ipad has juice so I don’t have to go all the way downstairs to get online. The ipad had juice and things were finally looking up for me. If I went downstairs to get online, I would have to walk by all those petty vindictive plants.

I searched strokes, aneurysms, and my symptoms. I came up with some indications that pointed to certain sinus headaches causing numbness. This seemed good enough to get me through the night and I would make another assessment the next day. My friend Jim was coming over to help me with a project the next morning and I would ask his opinion. Just to be safe, in case I expired during the evening I decided to wear a t-shirt, even though it was a hot summer evening and we have no A.C. I also slept in what I thought was a dignified sleeping position with hands folded upon chest and an extra pillow to tilt the head more upright and keep the mouth closed. At the last second I also wisely decided to put pants on – something cottony that would breathe.

To Be Continued

Sadly yours,

Jason Spafford

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