October 29

World Stroke Day


“The sky is blue.”

You look at your friend, thinking she is crazy for uttering such a random sentence.

“Raise both your arms.”

Still thinking she is crazy, maybe playing “bank robber” this time, you lift your arms over your head.  One of your arms feels heavier than the other, and you let it lower.  Now you’re a student in class, raising one hand for the teacher.

“Can you smile for me?”

You consider the possibility, but can’t think of anything to smile about.   There’s been too much sickness in the world lately, driven by a strange new virus that, in addition to the usual symptoms of headaches, vomiting, and high fever, has also increased incidents of severe stroke in many patients.

Everyone is educating themselves about the warning signs.  These days, it was impossible to call a doctor’s office, pharmacy, or even a yoga center without hearing the same recorded message:  “If you experience any of these symptoms, please call 9-1-1 or visit the nearest Emergency Room immediately.”

As many times as you’ve heard the message, you can’t quite recall the list of symptoms.  You hope memory loss isn’t one of them.

You’re just tired, which is why you’re having trouble concentrating.

“The sky is blue,” your friend says.  “Repeat the sentence.”

You’re inside, so it doesn’t make sense to talk about the sky.  Your friend is being silly.  You’re also wondering why she’s wearing a paramedic’s uniform.

She touches one side of your face, studying your expression.  She’s acting so serious, you decide to comply with her request.

“Skittle bot-bot,” you say.