Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree


This was going to be just an anniversary rerun, happily marking one year today since my stroke. And I apologize for the need to make this a little darker than I’d intended. But I think you’ll see why.

I’m doing well, happier than ever, tapping deeper into the craft I love, and enjoying new friends —you— as never before. I’m living much more healthily, have lost 23-pounds on the way to 35 or more, and the satisfactions of this blog alone has reduced stress. I want to be around for a while, tasting the sweetness and bitterness of life in equal measure. I’ve never felt so alive. And so I thought to put up a simple marker to a very interesting and rewarding year.

But the Universe has a perverted sense of humor. Within the week, other news reminded us that there is bad with the good, and that what builds us up can tear us down, too. A meeting with a surgeon today told us what comes next for her.

Cancer. Again. Breast. Third time. Fourth diagnosis overall. The good part, if there is a good part, is that they caught it so early that it’s still at Stage Zero. Some more consultations are to come, of course. And ultimately, a major surgery. But, no chemo this time. We must be content with such small gratitude as this. But it is enough.

It seems that one can have one of two reactions to something like this. We can feel the close brush of the thing we will all eventually face, and be driven inward, fearful. Or, we can realize that Fate comes at a time of her own choosing, and none of us knows the day or the hour. The choice is always between fear and shriveling down, or doing what must be done in spite of the fear.

Life will break you if you let it.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death...
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…


April 24, 2014 ….

On Thursday morning, I woke up feeling funny, my right side partially paralyzed. After waiting far too long, I went to the ER and learned that sometime overnight a tiny blood vessel near the center of my brain on the left side, about the level of my eyes and near the hypothalamus, had been blocked by something. The loss of blood to a tiny, tiny area deep in my brain has made things I took for granted now difficult.

I went to bed feeling normal, woke up a stroke victim.

But, it’s turned out as well as could be expected. I’m home, the symptoms are fading away, and the docs think I should recover completely. I was extremely lucky.

It talking with someone else today I was reminded of this song by Johnny Cash, on the last album he recorded “The Man Comes Around.” The phrase– “whirlwind in the thorn tree –in it sums up the last couple of days, how events can take over and we’re whipped around and wounded, feeling out of control.

22 Replies to “Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree”

  1. Sending love, hugs and prayers.
    May you come to know peace and healing
    May your heart be filled with happiness
    May your gift forever bring you comfort
    May each new day be more blessed than the last


    1. Thank you. After everything, I have come to believe that nothing is really predictable, and that the only thing that matters is how we handle curve balls and lightening strikes like this. But it helps to have kind people like you walk along the path with me.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Exactly. And what would life — or baseball, for that matter — be without learning how to hit a curveball? It’s the difference between being in the Bigs or staying in the minors. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I am so sorry that it happened to you and I am very happy that you are okay and on the mend. Thank you for bringing me to this post. What an ordeal! I can’t even imagine! I hope you get back to the old you sooner rather than later 🙂


    1. That’s very kind. thank you. I’m working on it, taking it extremely easy. Some drugs, some PT, some attitude. 🙂

      I’m trying to decide whether I want to write about it. I won’t unless I can see a different angle.


      1. I think you should definitely write about it. You went through something traumatic and life changing that not many people can get through and your sounding rather positive!

        Actually in awe really. 🙂 if there is anything I can do then please let me know.


  3. You received a gift — complete recovery. I’ve been through it, though not with a stroke. The quality of the gift is yours to polish going forward, for with great gifts come great responsibilities.


    1. What’s a little funny is that my first reaction was to be ticked off. I took it as a personal affront that my body betrayed me like this. I couldn’t wait to get out of the hospital, although they did a great job with me. (I’m a terrible patient.) I’m going to have to learn some patience with this. I just know I can’t let the niggling little fear “psssst. It might happen again” be the dominant one. Sure, it might. Or, I could die in a traffic accident. Or get some bad sushi. I’m working on not playing the ‘what-if-something-awful-happens” game. Fact is, something awful will happen to all of us, particularly that last awful thing. The point, I think, is to take it as it comes and not get dragged down with worries about stuff that’s out of our control.

      As an old boss once advised (he was from the South, full of great sayings): “You do what you can, then let the flat side drag.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I can’t blame you for being angry. I can’t imagine NOT being angry. Especially when it is our own body that is betraying us! What is really strange is that you posted about this issue around an hour after I was trying to figure out how to send you a private message for some advice on my paper! I say that is strange because I never attempt a private message on here, but I bound and determined I’d find a way…then I went to sleep.

        As for your old boss, that is a wonderful saying! I’ll try to think of some that my Daddy uses because they are hilarious. He’s a good ol’ boy from Alabama and if he isn’t picking on you, then he doesn’t like you.

        Well, I should get back to this paper. It is really kicking my butt…in a good way. Only 19-ish pages to go! [I tried to explain to a friend that 2 pages an hour was really very good. He didn’t get it. Apparently I should be able to sit down and knock out several pages an hour.] I hope today (and my note) finds you well!


  4. I wish you a very speedy recovery Hemmingplay. How very lucky, blessed, touched by grace and special you are right now! Take care of yourself. Jayne


  5. Wow! I am so very happy that you are recovering!!! I had three aneurisms between birth and age three and as a teenager one day woke up partially paralysed; a similar situation to yourself. It was terrifying. All those days of rising to move normally and suddenly one side of my body didn’t work. I recovered and haven’t had another ‘episode’ since. But there was some nerve damage to my mouth so when I talk often it looks as though I am only using one side of my mouth. I had exercises to wake the muscles up and work even if the nerves don’t quite work. I forget until I get asked by concerned citizens (usually Dr’s or pharmacists) if I am feeling ok as they think I might be having a stroke. Love this song, listening to it and sending you ‘recover fully’ hugs and thoughts 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Received. 🙂 Thanks for the kind thoughts. Yes, it’s a weird sensation, but seems to be clearing quickly. Good wakeup call, I guess. I had some impairment in motor control, especially typing. I usually fly, typing 90+ a minute. Yesterday my right hand was slow and clumsy. Today it is pretty much back to normal. I’m lucky.


  6. I am so very glad that you are recovering. I can only imagine how scary that is because of a scary illness with my middle son that came on so suddenly. It is good to “hear” your voice again. I do have good news for you — your post appeared in my reader!!
    Take care of yourself!


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