In the early morning hours I was suddenly awake. Something was terribly wrong. At first I thought we must have had an earthquake.
The picture on the wall above my head was ajar. Things on the table beside my bed and on the chest of drawers across from it were either turned over or in the floor.
I tried to put things in place but I would drop most anything I touched. I could not understand why I was so shaky.
When I went into the bathroom I saw myself in the mirror and understood what had happened. One side of my mouth was drawn. There had not been an earthquake. I had been thrashing about when I had the stroke. I am glad I still have no memory of that.
I knew I needed help. My son John is the only one of my children who lives in the area. I could not think of his telephone number and I could not see well enough to find it in the telephone book.
I remembered I had left his number by the telephone in the den. Then, I had trouble dialing the phone. Placing one finger of my left hand under each individual digit at a time, I slowly dialed the correct number.
It was still in the wee hours of the morning. Millie, John’s wife, answered the phone. That was when I realized I could not talk. The best I could do was to make garbled sounds.
Somehow, John sensed it was me. He asked if I needed an ambulance. I did.
Then I remembered there is a number to call when we need help but I could not think of 911.
Yet, knowing John would be coming soon, I went to the keypad and turned off the burglar alarm. I easily pressed those numbers without a problem. That was a nigh miracle.
An EMS vehicle and my across-the-street neighbor, Margaret Jackson, were there in a matter of minutes. John had called them. It was a cold February morning but I was on the front porch waiting for John to get to the house.
Soon I was in an emergency room at Kennestone Hospital. I kept moving my arms and legs to be sure I could move them. A much greater fear than dying was being paralyzed and being an invalid for the remainder of my life. I cannot tell you how frightening it was.
I grew up in a Christian home. While we were not at the church every time the doors opened, I knew about God and the power of prayer. There in the emergency room I knew I should be praying, but I could not. I was not able to get my thoughts together well enough to pray.
While I had no paralysis, I soon realized I could not talk, write or comprehend anything I tried to read.
The next few weeks were filled with medication and therapy. Gradually, my language skills returned. However, since the coordination between my hands was permanently impaired my ability to play the piano and organ well ended. Due to the loss of feeling in my right hand, my handwriting is very poor. Sometimes I have problems with my speech.
One of the questions I had for my doctor when I reached the point I could talk well enough that she could understand me was how much of the damage to my body would be permanent.
She estimated my recovery would be 65 to 70 percent. After a few months, she was glad to be wrong. I had regained 95 percent.
It was a struggle. Day by day I was confronted with something I had learned years before but could no longer remember.
The first Sunday I went back to church was traumatic. The congregation prayed the Lord’s Prayer. I had learned The Lord’s Prayer as a very young child but I could not remember a word of it. It was so hard not to cry. As soon as church was over I hurried home. I spent that Sunday afternoon relearning The Lord’s Prayer.
Through the years our memories dim. Yet, I think I will always remember the things that happened to me the night of that stroke.
Now, 14 years later, I continue to be thankful for the many, many people who helped me in the hospital and during the following months.
Most of all, I am thankful for those who prayed for me when I could not pray for myself.
Marguerite Cline is former mayor of Waleska.