What started off as a seemingly perfect Saturday morning certainly did not end up that way.
I didn’t quite sleep in as long as I would have liked to, but I rationalized the 5 AM wake up (my normal weekday reveille) as God’s way of telling me I really need to watch The (British) Open Championship live on ESPN: There must be some swing tip I’m supposed to learn from before my planned Saturday round.
My mind wandered to the evening before which was nearly as perfect as it could have been. Leigh and I celebrated the end of a remarkable week with reheated pizza and fresh watermelon and blueberries, followed by cigar on the back deck. The week included a visit with our grandson, Levi and daily photo updates of our 3 week old granddaughter, Gracie. I had a great checkup with my doctor that included results of cholesterol screening showing my ratios had returned to normal range by merely changing my diet. I had even survived a particularly killer workout with my trainer early Thursday morning. Along the way my business partners and I had a pretty remarkable week as well.
“Life is really good right now.” I said “I know the other shoe is gonna drop, but right now it’s really good.”
I posted this pic and status update on Friday night:
Absorbing as much Golf Mastery as I could, I headed upstairs to get dressed for my Saturday morning tee time. As I finished brushing my teeth I said to Leigh as I was heading out, “I am really happy with my life right now.”
I stopped at my favorite (i.e. closest) Turkey Hill convenience store for a small coffee and glazed-covered, cream-filled donut. I then hopped in my car for the 12 minute commute to the golf club (knowing full well I could have the donut downed before I exit the on-ramp onto I-81).
It started to happen when I was coming up Front Street driving through Fort Hunter Park. I was feeling a little mellow, as if I was in slow motion. Perhaps watching The Open viewing had placed me into a state of “Golf Zendom”. As I slowly drove up the meandering driveway which cuts across 3 fairways, I realized I was driving even slower than the most cautious of navigators. I had to tell myself to “Speed up already!”
I pulled into a parking space and realized I had drifted from Zendom to lethargic. I remember taking a deep breath and wondered if I should not walk today, but rather take a cart. I definitely knew I wasn’t feeling right, and just sat in the driver’s seat staring at my hands on the steering wheel. “Maybe I’m just tired.”
After a couple of minutes I decided I needed to “man up” and work through this. I slowly got out of the car and pulled my cart out of the trunk. Walking up toward the putting green, I really stared to question whether or not I could walk 18 holes today. I went into the locker room to put on my golf shoes and returned to the putting green. It really hit me.
Bending over with hands on my knees, I knew something was definitely wrong. My friend Dr. Josh Greenberg (Periodontist) asked, “Are you OK?”
“I’m feeling dizzy.”
He grabbed my arm and firmly directed me to a nearby cart. “When men complain about being dizzy, it means something is definitely wrong. Men don’t admit to being dizzy.”
With Josh I sometimes don’t know if he is offering a professional observation or casting a disparaging remark about my manhood; he’s that kind of a good friend.
After several minutes of the best “manning up” talk I could muster, I finally agreed to call Leigh. She returned the ‘missed call’ and Josh answered. By this time I was disoriented and confused (more so than my typical state!). She was at breakfast on the other side of town and would take 25 minutes to get up to the course.
Another golf buddy, Craig Bartlett, came up to us, and the two of them essentially carried me into the locker room where I laid down on a bench. I remember young Ben the golf assistant bringing a cup of ice water and some wet towels. I vaguely recall responding to Dr. Bob Blake (Chiropractor) doing what turned out to be “stroke tests”.
I thought about my heart, I thought about my nervous system, I thought about sugar levels spiking from speeding glazed, cream-filled donuts. I thought about the night before and my comment “the other shoe is gonna drop”. I’m hoping not yet. “Could this be just fatigue?”
When I opened my eyes Leigh was standing over me. I find it oddly attractive and alarming she seems so comfortable in the men’s locker room. Clearly some of my cognitive function remained ‘normal’.
I’m carried by Josh and Craig to Leigh’s car where I try my manliest talk to have her “Just take me home.”
I’m not convincing her. I’m not even convincing me. We head to the newly opened West Shore Hospital Emergency Room where my staggering entry clearly caught the attention of the intake nurse and receptionist who seated me in a wheel chair. After describing my symptoms, the nurse said, “The good news is you are our first customer today!”
That is both strange and comforting to hear in a hospital emergency room at 9 o’clock on a Saturday morning.
ER doc interviews me, orders EKG, CAT scan, blood work and urinalysis. With all the stroke and heart problems eliminated, everything points to “Severe Dehydration”. I’m discharged by noon with orders to drink more fluids.
What is truly odd is how random and sudden this event occurred. Everything I have been doing recently has been leading me to a healthier ‘me’, yet here I was presenting symptoms that could have been something much worse. I now know what it’s like to be that old man sitting in a parked car staring at his fingers on the steering wheel.
I’m really grateful for the caring and compassionate response of my golf buddies and as well as the staff. I’m pretty grateful for my bride as well. While ‘Gratitude begets Grace’, grace may not mean the other shoe won’t drop, perhaps it simply means that when it does drop, we’ll be surrounded by friends and family bearing gifts of care and compassion.