Hey Mom? I can only feel half of my face.

“And I can only feel half of my tongue! This is weird.” Soon, I was surrounded by people assessing me. I don’t remember them all, but I had multiple TIAs that summer. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a transient ischemic attack. If you still don’t know what that is, I find that quite reasonable. I prefer to refer to it as a temporary stroke. People like to correct me when I say that, but I think they’re missing the point. The response I get is “A TIA is not a stroke” and I’m like “yeah, cus it’s temporary, a stroke is permanent.” I know there’s more to it than that but not to the average person and not to the person experiencing it. The scary thing about TIAs is that you don’t know they are temporary until they are. So, they may as well be a stroke until they aren’t. Know what I mean? It has to be assumed you are having a stroke in case you are having a stroke. And one day I did.

I don’t remember the day I actually had the stroke. I don’t know why. It’s weird to not remember the event that permanently changed the way I see the world. I no longer see in full screen. It’s like I accidentally bought those tickets at the concert that are actually behind a pillar and that’s why they were so affordable. It’s not quite like that. It’s not as big as a pillar. Or quite as frustrating as trying to see Katy Perry past a pillar.

I have 20/20 vision. I can see very clearly. Except where I can’t see at all. The outcome of the stroke was a big old blind spot in the middle left part of my field of vision. As well as a visit with a neurologist. That part may have been worse. That was a really bad day. I don’t know if it was the same day as the stroke or not but I’m referring to the neurologists visit. I guess I didn’t understand the instructions. I sat there not understanding why this person kept hurting me. People often came in and did things that hurt so I didn’t understand how this was any different. Like every other time a medical person did something painful to me, I didn’t react. I sat there and stared down at this neurologist, as she sat at the foot of the bed and ground her keys into the bottom of my feet while looking me straight in the eyes. What a sociopath.

I’d be interested in seeing what her report said after that. “Tried inserting needles into toes, patient did not react. It appears patient has lost feeling in entire body post stroke, blah blah, insert super sciency term here.” I hadn’t. I felt every needle and every time those keys dug into each foot. I didn’t lose feeling in any of my body. I didn’t know I was allowed to react. I didn’t know that this pain wasn’t the necessary kind. I didn’t know I was able to make it stop this time. What the neurologist didn’t know is that while she was doing those things, I was glaring at her with only 87% of my vision.

Apparently, there was always a chance I’d have a stroke. The machine that was keeping me alive was also damaging my blood. If you know me, you know I never complete a task until the absolute last minute. And that’s only if there’s no possibility of getting an extension. Well, this was no different. There was a timeline for having a stroke. If I were to have one, it would be by a certain number of days on the machine. Guess what? I had one on the last possible day.

I don’t want to spoil the ending but so far none of this has given me any superpowers. It’s a real bummer. The vision thing doesn’t affect me too much. People can sneak up on me sometimes and if you’re trying to get my attention while I’m looking somewhere else, good luck. None of my other senses have gotten better to compensate. What is up with that, eh? My sense of smell is fantastic but that’s way more of a curse. Subtitles at the movies are very hard to read because the screen is so big. I have to turn my head to read even the whole title of the film and often don’t have time to finish. Sometimes I lean over to whoever I’m with for a quick “what the last few words?” but only if it seemed important. I now prefer reading books on my phone because of the size of the screen. I can see the whole page. So don’t be a dick to someone who appears to be on her phone all the time OK! I mean, I’m generally not reading on my phone, but I could be! If you’re a hand talker that is also right-handed, I will not be able to see your hand motions and your face at the same time. This made for a kind of funny conversation once where the person noticed my eyes darting back and forth. My last job I worked at a reception desk where the whole left side of the desk was open, and the right side was a wall. My blind spot is on the left. I never saw people coming up to the desk. I don’t think they knew that, though.

I have a ton of examples of little things that are different. Most of the time, I don’t even notice. Enjoy this picture of the sunset, the way I see it.

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