Polar Bears and Other Scares: Surviving an Acute Stroke—Memoirs of a Survivor

With a blood clot in my brain—right between my ears—I began New Year’s Day 2014 paralyzed and unable to speak. When my eyes rolled back in my head, I stopped breathing, and my heart rate began flatlining, the medical team working on me believed I was dead. A few moments later, when a miniature vacuum device had removed the clot and shots of clot-busting chemicals cleaned the artery, I could move and speak again. A modern miracle of endovascular treatment.

The nurse in my stroke rehabilitation clinic learned that I was one of the first journalists to write about stroke and had been a communications consultant for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. She suggested I write my own story. Polar Bears and Other Scares

I couldn’t. Whenever I started dealing with my health, I got writer’s block. Brain cells that controlled my “fight or flight” reactions had been fried. Every time I confronted the subject of stroke, I went into flight mode. So I sneaked up on the topic. I wrote my memoirs, stringing together anecdotes about the most interesting things I had done in writing and communications since beginning my freelance writing career. I hoped that when I got to the subject of stroke, I would be rolling. Words would just spill onto the computer screen. It worked—the stroke section was still very difficult to write, but I had enough momentum to start with my first Globe and Mail articles on stroke and keep going through rehabilitation.

Stroke became the last part of my memoirs. Putting an image from the MRI of my brain on the book cover had some appeal. My brainstem looks like a Rorschach inkblot. So why is the cover shot one of me crouching behind a blindfolded polar bear with darts hanging out of his shoulder hump? How did acute stroke get demoted to one of the “other scares” in Polar Bears and Other Scares: Adventures of a freelance writer?

People producing the book thought bears were more exciting and appealing than brain attacks. So I guess the excuse is that it is a marketing ploy. Get people’s attention any way you can.

The first four sections of the book are supposed to be exciting and amusing. Read them for fun—or for fantasy if you dream of adventure. You are unlikely to get a chance to do the things I describe: being provincial Director of Emergency Information in exercises preparing for terrorist attacks and nuclear accidents; writing more than 500 feature stories  for a national newspaper; being a skiing writer paid to seek offbeat adventures; babysitting authors from England during northern misadventures; writing speeches that actually saved the orators’ asses; roaming the Hudson Bay Lowlands on communications consulting projects; being Director of Project Development in the construction of the world’s largest solar farm; hand-feeding huge snapping turtles and, of course, tagging polar bears.

The fifth section of the book is about things that might well happen to you. Called “Cardiovascular Adventures,” it deals with heart and brain problems, the kinds of things that are highly likely to cause your ultimate demise. There’s no preaching; I happened to recover from catastrophic cardiovascular events more by accident, good luck, superb treatment and being in the right place than by my own efforts.

But there is potential learning—about the miracles that medical research has produced since I first began writing about stroke. If my cardiovascular problems had occurred in the 1970s rather than in the 21st century, I would be dead or severely disabled. Endovascular therapy in particular has made it possible for me to resume normal life after a medical event that would have meant certain death only a few years ago. Someday, your life might depend on advanced cardiovascular medicine.

Polar Bears and Other Scares: Adventures of a freelance writer is available at FriesenPress.com, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other outlets as an e-book and in paper editions. Kindle offers a preview of the first 26 pages.

Ron Truman


613 962 2766

By | 2016-06-13T09:57:58+00:00 June 10th, 2016|Newsletter|0 Comments

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