Thursday night I went to my workout class. A rare excursion to exercise after work. I got there pretty early.  So I did the warm up stuff one does before class starts – foam roller, the whole bit. A friend of a friend was set up next to me. She mentioned having been sick all week and doubting if she should be working out. That proved to be ironic. 

So the first warmup we did as a class was Good Mornings. Wide legs, forward bend, with a barbell behind my shoulders. Suddenly I got really lightheaded. And I couldn’t keep my right hand on the bar. The instructor noticed something was up and had me sit down in the lobby area. The girl at the reception desk took over. Called 911. She was looking at me with concern. This was not normal. I tried to drink some water and promptly spilled it everywhere. She called the owner/friend Miguel, and put me on the phone. I could barely formulate a sentence. They put my wife/hero on the phone, who was already aware that something was up.  That’s when I knew this really wasn’t normal.  Two mins later there were no fewer than 6 EMT/medic dudes in front of me, asking questions and putting me on a gurney.  I was off in an ambulance to the emergency room which was a moment away. 

Despite my parents iffy genes, I’ve never been in a ambulance, or received any medical attention in my life, save my ingrown toenail surgery, sophomore year of high school. It was right when Prince’s Sign ☮️ The Times came out. But I digress. 

So I’m wheeled into the ER, past a rogues gallery of people who look, quite frankly, much worse than I feel. I try to be pretty darn healthy.  I work out like a maniac. I’ve been adjusting my diet to lower carbs to lose some wait for the summer. I should be a fucking underwear model with all of this, albeit a 46 year old underwear model who still needs to lose 5-10 lbs, to fix his teeth and some hair plugs if he’s really going to take this underwear model career path seriously.  That’s not the point. Point is, no matter where you on the underwear model scale, a downturn in your health is just a kiss away. People always revel in the Atkins dude who died suddenly. Life is fucking random. 

Doctors were asking me questions. My name. Nailed that one. Where I was. I’m 2 for 2. What year was it. I could see the numbers but couldn’t verbalize them. My birthday.  I said November. Nope it’s January. How old was I. I answered 47.  I was a year off. They had a doctor consult me via a video screen from Oregon. High tech. He showed me a series of photos. Some I got right – chair. Kid standing on stool. Some I got wrong- cactus. Feather. I looked at those fucking cacti for thirty seconds and couldn’t get out the word. The doc told me that he thought I had a TIA (“mini stroke”). Turns out, strokes are not to be trifled with. You can’t save season one of a Stroke so you can binge it right before season two comes out. He prescribed TPA, a fluid that thins the blood and flushes shit out but has a 6% chance of killing my sorry ass. Time was of the essence. Somehow Debbie got our good friends/my internist Jon and Ali Andrews on the phone. It should be pointed out that Jon and Ali are currently blessing the rains down in Africa, taking some time to do the things they never had. One thing they rarely have is cell reception down there but somehow we got in touch with them. The TPA got the thumbs up without hesitation, and moments later it’s being pumped into me intravenously. That’s some miracle drug shit right there. Within minutes cacti and feathers and my birthday were free flowing from my consciousness. 

Speaking of miracles, there were some in play here. The incident happened at the start of the workout, in a controlled environment with other people around observing. Could’ve been driving or getting out of bed in the middle of the night to piss. Apparently there are a lot of people who get a little stroke and sorta shrug it off and it goes away and they don’t treat it in any way and it can come back with a vengeance. By vengeance we’re talking some grim reaper shit. The gym being two minutes from the Encino ER was probably a blessing. Living in a time when we have the advances in medicine like TPA is a huge blessing. 

After the Encino ER we were off to St Joe’s in Burbank for a fun filled 36 hours where I gave up more blood, sweat and tears than a weekend in Vegas w/Hangover Mike Tyson.  OK mostly just blood.  When you have an “event” like I did they have to do a shit ton of tests to figure out how it happened.  It’s one of the more mysterious health events you can have. I had multiple CAT scans, ultrasounds, an MRI. At least I think it was an MRI. Could’ve been a small enclosed space blasting Aphex Twins’ Coachella set from 2007. It revealed a cerebral infarction. Ha ha they said “in-fart”. It was completely contained. No bleeding or growth. That’s good news. One of those silent but deadly farts but I survived it.  One of the later tests revealed I have a PFO which is basically a small hole in my heart where a blood clot can travel to the brain.  Everyone is born with it, but 16% of us still have it as adults.  So that’s how it happened.

Side bar for a quick mention of appreciation on human compassion and the people who treated me. I feel compelled to mention it as the president talks about how “immigrants” are ruining the “culture” of our country (paraphrasing). I was handled by a lot of people over the span of this process. Some are probably born in the USA just like me, and you presumably. But almost every one of them was an immigrant. These people probably saved my life, or at the very least saved it from being dramatically compromised. I don’t think they are “ruining our culture”. Almost positive none of them are MS-13.

Sorry for the political interlude. I just had to mention it. It was that or discussing the FOUR back to back episodes of Friends I watched in the hospital whilst waiting for my wife to bring me my phone. Turns out, Rachel thought she was ok with Ross’ engagement, but it turns out she was having a tough time. 

To say this whole experience has been surreal is like saying that I really want my own take home version of the inflatable Baby Trump.  No duh. The show was almost over, no encore. The whole time I’ve had these waves of emotion. One minute I’m beginning a workout, and literally 6 minutes later I’m in the hospital.  Everyone I think of, from my wife and kids to my extended family to my friends who ARE family, I get verklempt like a little old bubbe…I’m getting a little verklept now.  Talk amongst yourselves…why do men have nipples?  Why do we park on a driveway and drive on a parkway?

When you’re a kid, you feel like you’ll live forever.  When my parents passed away in their mid-60s, that threw me, especially considering that all of my grandparents lived into at least their mid 80s. When you have a “health event”, that’s next level.  Doing just about anything with independence seems irresponsible.  Setting out on a solo bike excursion or a run at the park seems a little terrifying.  The spare ribs are probably getting replaced with chicken or, gulp, tofu.  But you’ll make that deal.  Give me the tofu in exchange for the encore.  I’ll make that deal every time. 

Before we wrap up this Dadrock Health Roundtable, I have to give a shout out to my wife who, like she always does, came through in every possible way.   In addition to all of the help and support, she’s performing the health advocate role that is essential when doctors are throwing a bunch of info at you.  You need someone who will ask a million questions while you contemplate wtf you’re going through.  

Also shout out to Miguel Novo and all the good folks at Novo Body Fitness, John Andrews and Ali Garb, and all of the people who cared for me at Encino Hospital and St Joe’s Hospital.

The image above happens to be centered. The caption also has a link in it, just to see if it does anything funky.