It’s crazy how fast time rushes by!
It seems like I’ve been running a marathon lately trying to get everything done and keep ahead of the tsunami that’s right behind me!
Speaking of marathon runners, I just got some really sad news about my good friend George, who happens to be an avid runner and one of the fittest guys I know.
I’m sure you remember reading about George here at Jeff’s Place as a regular at our little audio gatherings.
George just retired a while back, and is one of the most decent and nicest guys I’ve ever met, and has been traveling the world to work on benevolence projects to help people out there that are in need.
Unbeknownst to me, George had a serious stroke in May that paralyzed him on the right side and affected his ability to speak.
I hadn’t heard from George in a while, and he hadn’t responded to emails from me, so I had assumed he was on one of his benevolent adventures and hadn’t been able to check in.
Now I know why I haven’t heard from George, and it breaks my heart to hear that such a dreadful thing has happened to such a good guy. Life does not play fair.
I’m working on getting a time setup to visit George, and I’ll let you know how he’s doing after I get a chance to visit with him.
Update: I was able to visit with George and his Wendy for about an hour this afternoon. It was a good visit.
George has been through hell. It started on May 2nd while George & Wendy were visiting George’s parents and sister in the Portland area, when George experienced some weakness / numbness on his right side after a run. Wendy took him to the hospital where they evaluated him – he was still walking & talking at the time – and they kept him overnight for observation. During the night his condition worsened and the next morning he was paralyzed on his right side and could not speak. George was in ICU for 3 weeks, then spent another couple of weeks in a neurocognitive center at the hospital, then in a skilled nursing / assisted living facility until about the middle of July, and then Wendy was able to bring him home. At least that’s the sequence of events as best I can remember them from what Wendy told me.
The good news is that George can understand everything that is going on around him and what people are saying with no difficulty.
The bad news is that the stroke affected his ability to speak or move his right arm or leg. He knows the words he wants to say but he can’t get his mouth to say them. Ditto for his right leg & arm – he knows what he wants them to do but can’t make them do it yet.
As you would expect George is experiencing depression and high levels of anxiety because of what has happened to him. George is receiving medication to help him with the depression & anxiety but the side effects are that it makes him feel sleepy and listless. They’re working on getting the meds sorted out.
When I first got there for my visit I sat down next to George on the couch, with Wendy in the chair opposite. I promised myself I wouldn’t get upset or emotional, but as I started to share with George & Wendy how I went through something similar with a stroke 25 years ago, tears welled up in my eyes and my voice got shaky & emotional, and George immediately reached out to put his hand on my shoulder to comfort me, and looked me in the eyes, with his eyes full of concern. What a sweet guy. George knows exactly what’s going on but can’t always figure out how to express it.
Because I went through a similar experience, I knew to engage him in direct conversation, because I figured he could completely understand what I was saying, because I could when it happened to me.
At the moment George can only say “yes” or nod his head, or say a few other short phrases. I was able to carry on a conversation with him on a number of topics in this manner.
I found out from George that he as not been able to listen to his big hi-fi rig yet because he can’t get down the stairs. He has been listening to his small stereo upstairs a bit. George is walking a bit but has to get a little more mobile before going on an adventure. He promised me he would work on his walking so that I could get him out and about on some adventures. I asked him if he would like to see my new guitar and he said “yes”.
We actually discussed quite a few things in this simple manner. I really saw his eyes light up because he knew I knew that he understood everything being said and that I was engaging him in conversation.
That doesn’t happen to George much since the stroke, as people tend to talk to Wendy and leave him out of the conversation because they think he doesn’t know what’s going on. Apparently it happens quite a bit during doctor and therapy visits. It’s an understandable mistake.
I am planning on stopping by George’s & Wendy’s after my Tuesday noon guitar lessons, to the extent I can, and not to the extent that I make a pest of myself.
George’s main challenge right now is finding the motivation to do his speech and physical therapy to get better. He need lots of encouragement right now. I think today George was a little bit encouraged by our conversation, but he still has a long road ahead of him to gain back his ability to speak more completely and gain more use of his right side.
Please keep George and Wendy in your thoughts and prayers, I’m sure they would truly appreciate it during this difficult time.
Thank you Nicholas, Adam, and Orpheo for the well-wishes you extended to George, they are greatly appreciated.
That’s all for now. Thanks for stopping by!