Aftermath

Since many of you have heard, I thought you should hear from me personally. Yesterday afternoon after leaving a memorial service near the city of LA, my left leg started feeling strange. Within five minutes I couldn’t feel my arm/leg and speech was slurred. Judy was driving, and I asked her to take me to the hospital. Luckily we were at Kaiser hospital within 10 minutes making the whole episode about 20 minutes before I got to the hospital. I had had a stroke, and my left side was affected. After a CT scan, they gave me a potent medicine that was able to break up the blood clot in my brain. I did gain mobility again though it was somewhat limited last night.

Today my leg is almost normal. There is still weakness in my left arm. I should be able to go home tomorrow. I am thankful to God for the amazing way he provided for me to get where I need to quickly. 99% of the time I drive when Judy and I are together, but this day I asked Judy to drive so I could help her with her phone. Siri directed us a way home that we would not normally have gone, getting us to the hospital much quicker than we could possibly have gotten there. The doctor said that the medicine works very quickly but doesn’t normally work that fast. The nurse said it basically a miracle and she didn’t know my profession at the time. I will be OK although it’s going to take lots of therapy and probably learning to do some things again. I did not lose cognitive function, so that’s good! We covet your prayers and thank you for your concern. I probably won’t be able to write back to everyone because I can’t type at the moment. So if there are errors here blame Siri!

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Stroke

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August 25, 2018 (our 34th wedding anniversary). My life changed ten minutes after this photo was taken. I’m the tall guy in the middle.  I had been standing around talking to all these people pictured. They are friends I made 40 years ago at Christian Life Church in Long Beach California. It was both a happy and sad the reunion of people from our high school youth group. We had gathered to say goodbye to one of our own who passed away a week earlier after battling cancer for nearly a year. Most of us hadn’t seen each other in a very long time. It was fantastic to get caught up with one another. Little did I know that just minutes after this photo was taken that I would lose complete control of the left side of my body.

God was very gracious to us, and we were able to get to the hospital in record time. I was calm most of that initial experience. It wasn’t until late that night that the gravity of the situation hit me as I laid in a hospital bed and I cried.

The past couple of months have been like the memorial we had attended the day this happened. It has been both sad and joyful. For the most part, once I accepted the idea that it was this going to take a long time and was going to require much of both Judy and me, my attitude has been relatively good. Am I anxious? Absolutely.  Am I hopeful? Definitely. Do I have spells of depression? Yes. Do I believe that God has this? No question.  Like the leader of a local faith community who approached Jesus and confessed he was dealing with both Faith and doubt, I am dealing with uncertainty as I am confessing my faith.

Some people have asked me “What do you think God is trying to teach you by this?”  My response has been that I am learning a lot by the experience, but I in no way believe that God caused this to happen. We live in a fallen, broken world and our bodies simply break down.  There are lessons to be learned, and for me, most of them have been spiritual. I try to see what the possibilities are in any situation. The neuropsychologist I have been seeing warned me that I should not be a counseling situation with people from church. Basically, he was telling me “do not get in a position where you’re having a listen to people because you possibly will be emotionally unstable.” The funny thing is, the people I did spend time listening to were not from our church or not from my friend groups, but from people on the hospital staff. I got known around the rehab as Pastor Perry and had numerous conversations that led to Jesus. Honestly, I don’t think I could have avoided any of them, and I’m glad it did not.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned so far is that I have amazing friends and am reaping the rewards of investing in people.  Pouring into people is something that I tried to avoid when I was in high school and early college until the Lord grabbed hold of me and showed me that I needed to take the risk of loving people even though they may leave (I moved around a lot as a child). I learned that lesson on a trip to Australia back in 1980 when my fellow teammates were saying goodbye to the people we had spent a month with, and I was looking forward to going home and was glad that I was not crying and saying goodbye to people I’d never see again. That experience changed my life. It was one of many moments that I’m reflecting on now and seeing how God moved me from one place to another for his purposes.