It was a blizzardy January in North Carolina during my thirtieth (and final) year with IBM. While leaving the house after dinner to take our dog Ruffy out for his evening walk, I slipped on the icy back step and fell heavily onto my butt, not knowing at the time that I had a brain tumor and that the impact had caused it to start bleeding.
When Ruffy and I returned from the walk, my wife observed that I was disoriented and incoherent—that is, acting more strangely than usual <smile>. (I have no memory of this, or of little else that happened for several days.) She called my doctor, who recommended that, because of the condition of the roads, she call an ambulance. (One memory I do have of the evening is sitting in the kitchen as the ambulance crew came in to collect me. One of the crew members was a friend of our daughter.)
The final memory I have until after coming to after brain surgery a week later was that while lying on a gurney in a hallway of the emergency room I threw up the pizza I'd eaten for dinner. I said to my wife:
When you call my manager in the morning, tell him I can't come in to work because I have pizza in my ear.[She actually did tell him this, as he confirmed when he came to visit me in the hospital. Throughout my six months of recovery before returning to work part-time, I continued to hope along the lines of one of the first thoughts I had after coming out from under the anesthesia: "Oh boy, I may never have to go back to IBM again!" Indeed, after a few months of part-time appearances at the office, I took early retirement and went on to a better life.]