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HIT BY A STROKE 

HIT BY A STROKE

“I’m Dr Taylor – come with me.”

He led me to his consulting room.
I said I was embarrassed to waste his time.
He asked me how I was. I feebly lifted my right leg.
“Doesn’t feel like its mine, and I’m tired, real tired.”
He took my right hand, and asked how it felt.
“Like I shook hands with Mike Tyson in a foul mood.” 

Within days the author was in a wheelchair. His right leg and arm behaved as though they were not his. Should he accept this, or insist they are his?

Read about the onset of a stroke, the recovery, and life afterwards.

 

In Store Price: $AU21.95 
Online Price:   $AU20.95

ISBN: 1 920699 65 1
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 173
Genre: Non Fiction
 


Author: William Russell Andrew 
Imprint: Zeus
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: July 2003
Language: English

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Author profile:  

The author, whilst on a holiday in England to see his daughter, suffered a stroke and spent six weeks in hospitals in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. On his return to Australia, he spent a further four weeks in hospital. 

He lives with his wife in a high rise at Burleigh Heads, Queensland. Previously he lived in Melbourne, where he was chief executive of a major construction company, having earlier graduated in engineering and commerce. This is his first book.

 

One

  

Well here goes, starting with something short, about the Christmas when I spent the day prior to the main festivities, Christmas Eve as you correctly point out, attending a function with work mates. Before my trouble of over twelve months ago.

Helen had doubts about it. She thought Christmas drinks needed an eye kept on them.  A careful eye.  For others work and play were interwoven – but that was not for me, she decided. There were too many liberated women for her liking. We drove to Brisbane in the late morning and whilst I was at the meeting, she did the Christmas shopping.  At four we met outside the hotel, and standing on the footpath I checked the cash in my wallet. After a fruitful time by Helen, I glumly saw that it held few banknotes.

The hotel was in George Street, opposite the Casino, diagonal to the Treasury Gardens, and central to the shopping precinct. The University is at the southern end of the street, and students walk past the hotel to catch the buses at Adelaide and Ann Streets. Or rather, they called in at the bar on their way to catch the buses. 

     The Law Courts were close by, and the younger members of the legal fraternity are well able to enjoy themselves. Hence, students needing solace, lawyers seeking pleasure, shoppers wanting respite, and office workers having Christmas break-ups all caused the hotel to overflow. Newcomers pushed in at the main door. The raucous occupants were forced to the back and ultimately fell out of the rear side door to finish their drinks on the footpath, and upon doing so, pushed in again at the main door.  It was a circulating crowd. 

     The skill was to get a drink whilst in the middle of the tide of humanity flowing past the central bar. All the champion revellers of Brisbane must have been there.  They were mainly young and male and in good form – showing the camaraderie that made girls unnecessary. The young lasses could have turned up topless, and some were close to it, but they were wasting their time. The boys didn’t look at them. Like the euphoria seen in an Irish pub, the lads were singing, standing on the tables, and removing their shirts. I found myself jammed between a lawyer celebrating a court victory and a student who had just passed her final examinations, whereas Helen located every female and left them in no doubt, none whatever, that I was happily cared for by her.  

On Christmas morning, feeling poorly, I went to my home office.  I didn’t want to disturb Helen, who became sullen if awoken at an hour deemed by her to be too early.   I drew the curtains and looked down from the twenty-third floor.  Already people were walking along the sand, and along the pathways on the lawns overlooking the beach.  It was the usual assortment of walkers, joggers, yoga exponents, cyclists, and dogs. I decided to join them. I took the lift down to the foyer, passed through the front doors, crossed the road, and then strode north along the pathway to the Life Saving Club. I went down a ramp to the waters edge and went southwards along the sand. The tide was low, and the sand was hard.  Walking was easy under these conditions.  I walked along the water’s edge to the Burleigh headland.  The cafes, located there to give patrons shelter from southerly winds, were closed. Denied the pleasure of an early coffee I aimlessly went home along the sand.

Back in my office I was still the only one awake in the apartment. I decided to have breakfast, and so I went to the bench dividing the living room and the kitchen.  On the bench were the cereal, spoon, and bowl laid out by Helen on the previous night. I got the glass of orange juice from the refrigerator, also put there by Helen. I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, looking through the windows out to the ocean. Then I went back to my office.  I typed an email, and sent it to a cobber. Having done that, what was I to do? 

I looked around the walls, covered with various items arranged in vertical lines. There was my photograph as a infant in a knitted suit, a graduation photograph as an engineer, a childhood photograph of Helen clutching a toy dog, a silver plate in a frame from University, certificates of membership in professional bodies, some small oil paintings by my mother and a black-and-white sketch, a football trophy, and a photograph of grandmother as a young girl shortly after her arrival in Australia.

Along one side of the office was a long desk and on it were the computer, the printer, the fax machine, a CD stack, and a tray of drawers for correspondence and papers. Placed upon the bookcase were items such as my keys, wallet, and mobile phone. Everything was orderly.

My books couldn’t all fit in the bookcase. The excess was kept in a storage unit in the apartment entry. I was forever re-arranging them. At the time, those on display were those bought for show; sets of gold embossed hardbacks covering all the classics of literature. They were all the same height and sometimes I kept the red books together, separate from the blue books, and the brown books, and the green books.  Sometimes I mixed the colours to make a tapestry effect.  There were the Australian novels that had been read once or twice, the Russian novels that had been enjoyed once but unlikely to be read again, French novels read once and maybe would be read again, and the English novels still to be read.   

I looked at this display and said to myself,  ‘This is all a bit twee, pretentious you might say, a bit of a pose, and it makes me look silly.’

In the storage unit, hidden from sight, were the tatty paperbacks, the reference books, the bird books, computer manuals, book prizes from school days, and books of popular interest on topics such as how to get rich.  I looked at this assorted collection of motley-looking books and thought, ‘this is an interesting lot… they indicate I have a fascinating past, and guests will see I have a modern outlook, and keep up with current ideas.’

I started to re-organise them.  The motley collection would be placed in the bookcase. The books bought for show would end up out of sight in the storage unit.  I set to it and soon the office floor was covered with stacks of books – as you know, books have to be removed from the shelves before others can be put there. Books covered the desk and the walking machine.

This machine was in the office not because it was the best place for it; rather it was the only spot Helen would permit it in the apartment. I used it (but only rarely unfortunately), in preference to another mode of exercise, walking down the fire stairs to the tenth floor and walking back up again to our apartment.  It was a private way of exercising, but there was no view, so I got the walking machine. 

Helen emerged from the bedroom and came to the office like a homing pigeon.  She could always sense when I was shifting things.

“Not this again,” she said.  She left me to it and went back to bed.  At least I was not reorganising the dining suite, or the sofas in front of the television. I would do this to even the wear on the seats like someone else would rotate the four tyres of a car. Helen always said it left marks on the carpet. 

By noon I had finished sorting the books. It looked less pretentious and that pleased me.  I dressed for lunch.  Helen had made a booking at one of the better restaurants, one providing a special Christmas lunch.  There was little point in her preparing a meal just for two. After showering, dressing, and doing the other things that complete a man’s grooming, I went to the bookcase to collect my car keys, phone and wallet.  I put the first two into my pocket. I didn’t see my wallet.

“Where’s my wallet?” I yelled.

Helen often put it in her bag to stop it stretching my trousers, she claimed.

“I haven’t got it.”

“We’ve been robbed!”

She checked her jewellery. It was still there, so a cat-thief could not have pinched it.

“Then I’ve been done over by a pick-pocket.”

“Where?”

“At that pub – how crowded it was, and just think who was there…”

“Everyone.”

“…students, gamblers, lawyers and skint shoppers.”

“And that girl had her hands all over you.”

“Don’t worry about that, my wallet has gone.”

“At least I’d spent the money,” she said, seeing the silver lining.

It was the credit cards I was concerned about. I had visions of that girl having a great time at the Casino at my expense.  What a start to Christmas!  In a flash, I decided to ring the hotel in case the wallet had been handed in, or was lying on the bar floor. I rang Directory Service to get the number of the hotel, and having got it, dialled.  I waited for a long time for the other end to answer. I concluded the hotel was closed for Christmas Day, and was about to hang up when a disinterested voice said,  “Damm you, let me do my cleaning.”

“I was at your hotel yesterday.”

“Have a good time?”

“I lost my wallet. Anyone handed it in?” 

“No,” was the swift reply.

“Will you look for it please?”

“For sure!”

The cleaner hung up. I quickly rang again. He didn’t answer this time – no doubt delighted that foolish me had told him about a lost wallet, and he was cleaning with a thoroughness not shown for some time, and looking forward to going to the Casino. I waited until my mobile phone got hot, then hung up.

The response, or rather lack of response of the cleaner convinced me to cancel the credit cards.

I rang one bank.  No one answered. I rang again and this time there was connection, but no one spoke. I heard voices in the background, as if a party was going on. Eventually a youth came to the phone and one card was cancelled. For the other bank a recorded message said I would get attention from the next available customer service officer, who I concluded, having waited patiently for twenty minutes, had not yet reported for work.

On leaving the apartment the prospect of a carefree lunch had disappeared. At the restaurant we paid in advance for the meal using the sole means of payment available to us, the one un-cancelled card held by Helen.

It was ten in the evening before the remaining credit card was cancelled. I prepared for bed. Whisky in hand I went to the office to switch off the computer.

The subdued light made the bookcase look different, compared to the full light of daytime, and I noticed the bulge in the books. The wallet was behind them.  In the shambles of shifting, it had been pushed to the back of the bookcase. The credit cards were there in the wallet – unused by the frequenters of the hotel, safe from its cleaners and alas, useless to me.

                 

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