The Storm came December 18, 2016. It was a Sunday. A pretty Sunday morning with the sun shining and a bird or two chirping outside the window. The cat was in “meatloaf” position nearby me on the bed, and I was lying in bed on my left side, having just woken up. It was about 8:30 in the morning, and I had no premonition of what was about to happen in fewer than 5 minutes’ time. I was clueless as to the storm, the violent and destroying storm, that was coming for me.
It’s almost surreal, looking back on it now, that there was no obvious warning sign. No boom of thunder. No flash of light. No klaxon sounding, no siren wailing (that would come later), no robot waving its arms and shouting, “Danger!” No deep voice from on high saying, “My child, I am giving you a test…”
My right arm simply felt “funny.” Not funny as in hah-hah, but funny as in strange. Funny as in kinda numb, like maybe I had slept on it wrong. Just the upper arm.
“My upper right arm feels funny.” I actually said that out loud.
I lay there for a minute and tried to make sense of how my upper right arm could feel numb when I had been sleeping on my left side.
I sat up on the side of the bed and put my feet on the floor. I distinctly remember feeling nothing strange, noticing nothing out of place or different other than my numb-ish upper right arm. In fact, I could feel the texture of the carpet under my feet. Under BOTH feet.
I started to stand up. Only I never made it much past “started to.” All in an indistinct whirl, I heard banging noises as various parts of me hit into nearby pieces of furniture. My vision was clear but struggling to find a focus point as I saw the items around me appear to move upward (caused by me falling downward.) It was a storm of loud banging and violent movement that came without warning and made absolutely no sense.
And then there was silence.
The cat, who, like all cats, is a creature of habit and expects the same things to happen at the same time and in the same order every day, took off like a rocket and went somewhere else because she was definitely NOT in the habit of Mommy banging into furniture and falling down first thing in the morning. For the cat, mornings habitually consisted of following Mommy to the bathroom and receiving a pat or two, some fresh water, and some crunchies (kibble), in that order.
And then there was more silence.
“That was funny.” I actually said that out loud, too. Look. I’m a single woman who owns a cat. Of course I talk out loud to myself.
I attempted to recover my composure and get myself up. Only my right arm was boneless, like it was made of jelly. Pushing against it to help myself stand up got me nowhere. My arm just flopped around. Like a fish, a boneless fish.
My right leg, as well, was just flopping around. Also boneless. I couldn’t stand up. I couldn’t even sit up.
Lying on the floor, I was boneless. Flopping around. Boneless fish.
The wise men say that with silence comes awareness, and with awareness comes realization.
With the silence surrounding me, I began to take inventory. I began to gain awareness. I was lying on the floor. I did not do that on purpose. My right arm did not work right. My right leg did not work right. I couldn’t stand up. I couldn’t get up.
Where had I heard that before? Something about your whole side not working. Something on the news, I think. Something on tv.
No, no, NO! NO! NOOOO! Oh, my God. Oh, my GOD! OH, MY GOD!!! Stroke! Stroke! I’ve had a stroke!!!!!
In the surrounding silence had come the realization. The realization that I’d had a stroke. The world had tilted. My life had changed. Nothing was ever going to be the same again. Nothing. The Storm had come, without warning, buffeting me around and destroying me, and I didn’t know what I was going to do. Whether I could do anything ever again. Whether there was even any “I” left anymore.
After the Storm, on the floor. Boneless, boneless, flopping fish!