How could I ever forget 9 pm, Tuesday, August 24, 1999? Glancing at my watch that precise moment, I was barely able to withstand a sound threatening to explode inside my head.
For about ten seconds I made a slow spiral until I lay comatose on the ground. Unknown to me at the time, I had suffered a stroke.
Two weeks before, I was a busy outdoorsman. Canoeing was a favorite pastime. And loons, ducks, geese, the swirl of water and forest scenery provided an escape from stressful work expectations.
I was a braggart about my physical condition due to many hiking, camping, hunting and fishing trips. My challenge was always to be first at everything within my domain, the first fish, climb a hill, even sit at the table ahead of everyone for a sumptuous meal. No one ever called me twice.
That night I came face to face with death. A backdrop of sky, with its band of red and yellow pastel colors, masked the scene at the busy Ryland Street entrance of the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition in Bible Hill.
Large crowds had already entered this fun place where horse racing, tractor-pulls, food concessions, a midway and other amusements awaited eager crowds. It was the first day of the Annual Exhibition Fair.
As a variety of lights flashed from the Ferris wheel an overwhelming sound like some out of control twister suddenly filled every crevice in my brain. I was felled to the ground. Grabbing the top of my skull with both hands, I kept saying, "Turn the sound down. Turn the music off," as it increased in intensity.
I slid to the ground and lay on my back. I was talking gibberish and then could not move my lips or any other part of my body. I was comatose, yet could clearly hear someone kept saying, "Don't get up, remain there." I was not even aware I lay in the center of a large crowd.
But I could hear voices coming from different directions. "I'll phone your wife," I remember my friend Charles saying.
Then I heard an ambulance siren for a long time, heading off to Colchester hospital. I did not comprehend it was I in the vehicle. "Sounds awfully close by," I remember thinking. It was only as we entered the hospital that I seemed able to move at all.
As my body parts began to move around, I did not realize I had been comatose for about 45 minutes.
I discovered later Esther, my wife, had an urge to pray for me at exactly 9 pm at home where our regular Home Bible Study group met. I believe those prayers prevented more serious stroke damage, and the Lord's Blessing pressed into my body during the ten seconds it took for me to end up gently on the ground.
At Truro's Colchester Hospital, I went through a series of tests, along with my IV insert; Oxygen Mask, Blood Pressure monitoring, heart machine, EKG and two cat-scans completed. Also had three lumbar probes, very painful.
The first two were unsuccessful getting through the muscle. At 11:30 PM one doctor said they were sending me by ambulance to Halifax, since it appeared I had a mild stroke, due to what he believed was a leaking aneurysm.
As I lay in the ambulance awaiting my 60 km trip to another hospital, I prayed. "Dear Lord," I said. "I'm too young to die at 57, and I have projects to complete in your name. Also there is unforgiveness in my heart and I wish to have an opportunity to rectify that. And I want to be returned home sometime today."
In Halifax two neurosurgeons probed, poked, scratched feet, checked eyes, feeling, muscle strength and took a cat scan. They could not find anything life threatening. They told me to come back in a week for an ultra-sound on neck carotid veins.
"I CAN GO HOME!" I said rather loudly. "Yes," the doctor replied. "Praise the Lord" was my happy response.
Recuperating at home was quite an experience. Headaches when standing or sitting, poor writing skills, numbness in right foot, calf, leg, and arm. Extreme tiredness. I was afraid to sleep, in case I may not wake up. It was a worry that was overcome by prayer and I slept well.
I went to Halifax hospital to have an ultrasound on my Carotid veins. It meant sitting still for about 45 minutes while this lady pressed something across the back of my neck. It tested the flow of blood into my brain. The doctor there confirmed I had a stroke. "A mild one," he said.
It was wonderful having my first get together with our family, to visit my mother-in-law and celebrate my birthday. Of course, in my excitement I did a little too much walking, had a severe reaction, which included a massive headache, numbness to my upper mouth, hand, leg and right foot.
But I learned a valuable lesson, to take it easy and not try to recapture too soon the ability to fulfill former activities.
Almost eight years later, I continue to recuperate, and pleased to have completed a video which has been aired many times on our local Cablevision channel. It's about having patience in overcoming limitations, enjoying love and encouragement from family and friends. And to accept gratefully all prayers sent my way. "Yes," I told my audience, "have faith, our God is in charge of events."
I now look forward to each precious day confident a full recovery will lay claim to my body. Being able to walk across the floor, lift a cup of hot chocolate, and turn my head to watch my wife's smile is such a blessing.
Accomplishments such as these sustain me, and it is a true joy to share my experience. Thank you Lord!
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Richard L. Provencher 2006
My wife, Esther and I really enjoy writing. It is an excellent salve, in addition to prayers, a great wife and family during my continuing recovery from a stroke/aneurysm. You can contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org re comments on our work. We live in Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada. Pray for others.