From depression to progression … | Editorial columnists

On January 16, 2019, my life changed dramatically. At 7:30 am I woke up needing to use the bathroom. As I got up from my bed, I noticed that I couldn’t feel my right arm or leg. It was as if both ends had this feeling of “falling asleep”.

Half awake and limping, I made my way to the bathroom. On the way back to bed, my wife asked me if I was okay because I was walking quite oddly. I answered, but my speech was muddled. I thought I was still half asleep, so I made an effort to answer correctly and clearly again, but the insult was still there.

Needless to say, the woman rushed me to the emergency department, eventually I was admitted to the hospital with my blood pressure somewhere around 220+ out of 180+. They couldn’t lower my pressure too quickly without disastrous repercussions.

Of course, by now you may have all come to the conclusion that I have had a stroke. I was devastated and in denial. But the realization was and still is that my life had and has changed.

The blood vessel wreaked havoc on the emotional part of my brain. I would have very erratic crying spells, outbursts of anger, and spells that left me still and staring into space.

After he was released from the hospital, the real challenges began. Dealing with the public, dealing with uncontrollable epidemics and the fear of doing something that would cost me my life or my freedom. So my countermeasure stayed in my room at home.

Needless to say, the depression set in and became a permanent part of my mind. What really made me back down was when I fiercely cracked on my G-Babies. This incident sent me into a free fall.

Even though I still minded my own business, I became unsociable. After a while, I started to refuse work. The stroke affected my photography skills to the point that I forgot what I have come to know as the back of my hand. It was truly devastating.

I remember my G-Babies coming over to the house, so I locked myself in a room away from them. They pounded and pounded on the door screaming “Papi, Papi” over and over again. All I could do was cry and sob because I wanted to hold them so badly. But I was scared.

I remember when my wife took me to the hospital the morning of my stroke, as we were crossing the overpass, I thought it was over for me. I really thought I was going to die. I told my wife to tell my sons that I love them.

Even though I have residual challenges, I’m still dealing with short and long term memory. I still have frequent moments of solitude, remaining isolated in my room for hours. Stroke forced me to think about the finer things in life. It forced me to change what I put in my body. It forced me to take “NOTHING” for granted.

It made me tell my loved ones how much I hold and appreciate them regularly. The stroke made me stronger because I had learned to manage who I am now. Fortunately, the doctor was able to find medication to regulate my mental capacity.

Damn, the fact that I’m writing these columns is definitely a miracle. I am truly grateful that I was able to turn my depression into progression.

Andre ‘Alfred is a sports / personal writer and photographer for Bertie Ledger-Advance, Chowan Herald, Perquimans Weekly and The Enterprise. He can be contacted by email at [email protected]

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