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Chuck Hinman: IJMA. Waiting in the doctor's office

Chuck Hinman: Waiting in the doctor's office. Chuck tells of his two strokes and the mishandling of the first one but says he could still find positives.
Next earlier Chuck Hinman column - High School Class Ring

By Chuck Hinman

Waiting in the doctor's office

In 1994 after retiring, I was accompanist for the Phil-Four men's quartet. We all had employment ties with Phillips Petroleum Company -- hence the name -- Phil-Four. We had many engagements in Tulsa -- a one-hour's drive from Bartlesville.

On one engagement we went in someone's station wagon so we could take my electric piano. The weather was cold. I remember being very uncomfortable in a vehicle where all but two of us smoked! And they smoked incessantly, it seemed!

It was before the time when non-smoker's rights were considered! It was too cold to have a window rolled down. To crack my window a bit only created a draft drawing all the second hand smoke by my face.

Exposure to smoking felt different this time

I had been a smoker in my younger days. I was tolerant of others' smoking. This time was drastically different for some reason. I felt miserable, but I didn't protest! To say I was stressed is an understatement! The smoke was overwhelming!

And to top things off, we talked about plans to accept an engagement in Lubbock, Texas. I worried how I was going to tolerate several days traveling in a car with this incessant smoking!

By the time we got home after performing -- I felt unusually up-tight -- kind of panicky! I had never felt like that before. It was hard to describe. We set the piano out of the station wagon into the garage. One of the guys was going to come by the next morning to help me set the piano back in the sun-room. After they left, I sat outside on the deck freezing but, trying to collect myself after a miserable night of second hand smoke inhalation. Fresh air, even though I was freezing never felt so good!!

Chuck blacks out and falls to the floor

Morning arrived. We had just finished moving the piano to its place when I had a telephone call. I sat down as I talked. When I finished talking and returned the phone to its cradle -- I blacked out and fell to the floor. My Phil-Four friend and Connie helped me back to the chair. In a matter of minutes I felt OK and was puzzled and embarrassed why I had blacked out and crumpled to the floor!

My friend went home and Connie insisted I see the doctor immediately. She called and got an appointment. Our son, Paul, came from Tulsa as soon as Connie alerted him.

Urgent need not recognized at doctor's office

The doctor's office was crowded and apparently my urgent need was not conveyed to the doctor. I sat in the office for probably three hours before my name was called. In the meantime, I was feeling 'out of it.'

When the doctor finally examined me he told Paul, "I believe your Dad is trying to have a stroke." He acknowledged that his office had erred in not getting me in to see him immediately. He prescribed some medicine to be picked up at the pharmacy on my way home. I went straight to bed and Paul returned home to Tulsa.

In retrospect I never understood why the doctor did not hospitalize me immediately. It seemed there was one misjudgment after another!

Chuck falls a second time

About 6 pm I got up to go to the bathroom and again fell to the floor. Connie called our son-in-law and he rushed me to the Emergency Room. I was diagnosed as having had a full-blown stroke!

I was in the hospital for about ten days and came out with significant damage. I lost peripheral vision in one eye and had extensive motor damage to my left side. I had difficulty walking. Over time, I have been helped to some extent by therapy and most of all by the prayers of my prayer-warrior friends!

Mishandling of medical emergency acknowledged

In subsequent visits to the doctor, he acknowledged several times that their office had totally mishandled my case. He said that I had done everything that I was supposed to do to circumvent the long-term damage for which strokes are noted. Fortunately it wasn't so bad that I had to enter a nursing home. Connie already had Alzheimer's Disease.

I have had a second light stroke within the past two years -- after I was living alone. I drove myself to the emergency room where the emergency room doctors confirmed that a stroke was in progress. Because I had acted quickly -- the stroke damage was minimized and I was released from critical care care within a couple of days. Any further damage was minimal.

Chuck says speak out if you feel you are endangered

My advice after the experience of my first stroke -- don't be timid about speaking out for prompt treatment if you feel endangered -- doctors do make mistakes. I know! Raise your voice if necessary - it's your life!

Second-hand smoke is now considered a factor causing strokes.

I am thankful at this special time of year (Thanksgiving) to be enjoying a pretty good quality of life -- with only a few dings here and there! Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow!

Written by Chuck Hinman. November 18, 2003 (Writing Assignment for 23 November 2003, the Imperuvians Writing Club)

The Imperuvians Writing Club

Many of you know that I am in a small writing club of former college associates. We have weekly assignments -- the subject being provided by our leader. This week's assignment as you can see is on the vague subject -- "Waiting In The Doctor's Office."

Many of you also know that as long as you have known me -- I have had difficulties with certain motor skills such as walking, loss of balance, difficulty with steps, control of hand movements, etc. Please know that I am not in the least embarrassed or milking sympathy for these 'character testers.' I'm playing the cards I was dealt and the Lord is the dealer. That puts it in the right perspective and really, it's not all that bad! Believe me!

As you will note, having read my current writing assignment, it hasn't always been that way for me. Most of the problems stem from a stroke in 1994, aggravated a few years later by a hand tremor called 'essential tremor.' This writing assignment will serve a purpose -- if you wondered "why Chuck always walks funny" or "why can't Chuck carry a plate -- or anything" or "why can't Chuck a bunch of other things." If you didn't know before -- now you know for the first time or are reminded.

Finding positives among the problems

One interesting positive thing you need to be aware of is that these 'character testers' never -- even one time -- were a problem factor in my being able to be Connie's caregiver all those years. My awkwardness miraculously disappeared where my care of her was involved (except putting her lipstick on -- that gave me some fits). Does that tell you something? It motivated me to be the best caregiver I could be!

The other thing most of you have already observed is that my organ and piano playing skills so far are strangely exempt from the motor and tremor problems. There aren't many 81 year old 'ivory ticklers' around and I can only assume that the Lord has some reason for leaving that skill intact. It's OK with me!

Stuart Hamblen wrote a song "Until Then" -- one of my favorites: "with joy I'll carry on."

- CH, 20 November 2003

This story was posted on 2013-08-18 01:41:38
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