I’ve talked before about one of the funny things about stroke. In the months immediately afterwards, I clearly remember having a feeling that every day would be my last. Nothing much bothered me, other really than getting everything in order to make things easier for my wife when I was gone. In the months after the stroke, I closed my business down and closed most of my bank accounts. I thought about death a lot, to the point where it doesn’t really bother me. The pain associated with death bothers me, but not death itself. One of the good things about the stroke was that there was no pain whatever, so when I have to go, I’d take another stroke, please. A knock-on effect is that I’m less likely to pay attention – even now – to unimportant things. I don’t pay much attention to tv, for example. A lot of “news” programmes put me off because of their shallowness.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy life and to die anytime shortly would be way too soon (true for all of us!), but I’ve achieved most of the things I’ve wanted to do. Work was always important to me, and I was working on Wall Street whilst still in my 20s – not just working but leading stuff. Home-wise I have a mostly-happy marriage, and have done the “kids” thing. That didn’t go well, but it’s too late to do anything now. In any case, the reason that things fell apart with my daughter were because I had one set of values, and she had another, different set. Very different. So different, you’d never guess we were related. And all these differences are still the case, so I think it is better to keep a distance between us. So I don’t really have any pangs of regret about things – it’s a shame things didn’t turn out better,but you can’t just set your values to one side, can’t just stop being “you” for someone.
This preparedness to die, I don’t really have that feeling any more, or rather it doesn’t dominate. Three years on, I’m very much looking toward a future. I get value from life. I’d be easily able to do a job, when one comes up. Of course, it doesn’t have to be as challenging as Wall Street! But it’s not as if I’m medically unable to work, it’s more a case of waiting for the right opportunity to come along. Even now, pre-job, I’m helping people, and keeping myself busy, with my charity work.
It’s funny, because when I do my hospital visits, I try to find common ground with the patients by remembering my own experience in there. This far downstream, the memories have faded somewhat. The overall feelings I had don’t fade, but the details fade. So while it is inevitable that I’ve become more skilled at talking to people over the years, some aspects of the role have become more difficult.
But, actually, it is important to remember that I once had these feelings. Despite my disability imposing physical limits on my, I joke to people that I think twice as hard. Except it’s not a joke, because I’ve experienced things that most people don’t experience until years later. And every one of these experiences makes us wiser in the future.