Tuesday, March 01, 2005


In Which My Secret Origin As A Super-Villain Is Revealed...

Crazy week. I've got three--count em, three--stories for the next issue, and NONE of them are even written. That means editing, fact-checking, art, production, it all has to be done in about three weeks. That is NOT enough time. If this was one story we were talking about, I could do it. But three from scratch? I can't. I can't.

So naturally, when there's lots to be written and no time to write it, I think: Guess I'll write a blog entry. And here I am, sitting up at night, writing this when I could be, well, using my personal time for work (and how much fun is that?). Procrastination, friends: it's good for you. It lends flavor and urgency to your day, puts your cardiovascular system (and your digestive tract) through an impressive workout, and gives the phrase "at the last minute" a certain luster it wouldn't otherwise have.

I could bitch about life and how exhausted I feel just now but the truth is I'm just numb and paralyzed.

Which is not the first time I've felt numb and paralyzed. In fact, unless I miss my guess, it was about 10 years and change ago that I awoke to a nasty surprise in that regard. And as unpleasant as it is to recall, the memory never fails to throw a difficult day into SHARP relief.

I was living in Washington DC at the time. Her Lovely Self was there too, having only recently agreed to marry me, even though it meant leaving Chicago and following me inside the Beltway. In fact, we were about six weeks away from nuptial bliss, when I woke up in agony early one frosty March morning.

I am generally slow to wake. I am not a morning person, in the same way that members of the World Wrestling Federation are not shy, retiring sorts. But I was having this odd early-morning dream in which some impish creature had crawled up on the bed and was poking me repeatedly in my left eye. With an ice pick.

And then it dawned on me I wasn't dreaming the pain and I shot out of bed with a scream. I wouldn't say I have a high pain threshold, but I am one of those guys who can pop dry contact lenses onto his eyeballs without being really bothered by it. I have fished eyelashes, bits of fiberglass insulation and even, on one memorable occasion, a toenail clipping out of my eyes and not been too much pained by it (although such maneuvers have typically left bystanders weeping sympathy tears for me).

But this! It felt like someone had popped out my eyeball, rubbed it thoroughly with 250-grit sandpaper, put a liberal dose of Tabasco sauce on it, and popped it back in. But not before punching my empty, gaping eye socket. Hard. There was a dry, burning pain in the eye itself, but also a deeper, visceral pain that seem to bore into my skull. Heck, I could feel it in my ear, that's how far back it went.

I clamped my hand over my eye and proceeded to look around for any ice-pick-carrying imps. Nothing out of the ordinary, except...my pillow was sopping wet. Okay, I have to admit here that I'm a drooler, but come on! I'd have needed salivary glands the size of breasts to produce this much saliva. I could wring this pillow. It was like I had wet the bed. Through my mouth.

Her Lovely Self was almost thrown to the floor from the violence of my rising and as I'm standing there, one hand clamped over my eye, the other palpating my squishing pillow, she could only stare at me in blinking wonder. Or maybe horror.

"What? What's wrong?"

"My eye! It's killing me!" I exclaimed.

Except, what I heard come out of my mouth was, "By by! Ibs kibbing be!"

Her Lovely Self pulled my hand away from my face and her own eyes widened in what was clearly not wonder. Definitely horror.

"Whad? Whad ib ib?" I asked.

"Something's weird with your face," she says. "Close your eyes for a second." So I did.

Except, my left eye wasn't closing. I tried to blink. Nothing happened.

And I freaked out.

"Agg! Agg! Whaddafug! I cab clode by by!!" I screamed. "Whaddafug's wrob wib be?" I sounded like Donald Duck coming out of the dentist's chair.

Her Lovely Self, who IS a morning person and already in full command of her faculties, marched me to the bathroom mirror. I took one look.

Remember how I said I freaked out before? Well, I was lying. This time, I really freaked out, and probably threw in a spazmo attack for good measure.

The left half of my face was dead.

I looked like a Batman villain. On the right side, all contorted and worried, nostril flared, brow furrowed, lips peeled back in a hideous smile of panic.

On the left side, nothing. Not a twitch. Even worse, my eyelid was drooping, completely lax, as though someone had yanked it out of position in the middle of the night and stretched it so badly, it wouldn't fit back the way it was supposed to on my face.

And speaking of my face, Her Lovely Self was being charitable. Something wasn't just weird. Something horrible and freakish had happened to me in my sleep. My left cheek looked puffed and droopy. Hell, even my ear looked odd!

My mouth was worst of all. The left half of my lower lip hung down in a crazy "duh" expression. I had the demeanor of an extra in a 30s gangster film, looked like someone trying to affect a tough-guy look. And failing abysmally, since a thin ooze of drool was now depending from that side of my mouth. Apparently I DID have enough saliva to soak a pillow, and only realized now what work my mouth had done to hold back the flood while I slept. No longer.

I tried to sit down, but that's when I realized I was dizzy. My left ear was buzzing. My left eye was a blind orb of agony. I flopped on the bathroom floor, and as my ass hit the tile, I realized what had happened.

"Habastrobe," I muttered.

"What?" calls Her Lovely Self, already in the next room, pulling on clothes and grabbing car keys to drive me to the doctor's.

But I couldn't repeat it. I could barely think it: I've had a stroke. Fifty years early, six weeks before my wedding, and I've had a stroke.

I repeated it to myself a few more times before it sank in. And when it did--

Remember before how I said I really freaked out, with a spazmo thrown in for good measure? Well, I was lying...


Holy Shit! That's scary!
Obviously you're ok now, but.....damn! How old were you at that time?
Yea, I guess remembering that could certainly put perspective on a crappy day!
On the edge of my seat for the rest of the story......

I have faith - you're going to put on your Superman cape, pull a rabbit out your arse and get it all done. Deep breaths.....

From one procrastinator to another... I understand the need to blog when you're on deadline. I happened across your page randomly, from a blog site to someone else's site to yours. I love it!

Regarding the stroke -- I had no idea it was possible to have a stroke before the age of 50. I think I will now forever sleep in fear of waking up half paralyzed. Did you regain movement before your wedding? Or did you have to say "I bo"?

I hope you are well!
Oh my! I'm sorry about what you went through, but you just made applesauce come out my nose.

Hi, I'm Sarah (over from Suldog's)
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