Tuesday, January 3, 2017

My best excuse ever

By Moristotle

[Originally published May 5, 2007]

It was a blizzardy January in North Carolina, in 1996, 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.
Ruffy, August 1995

Copyright © 2017 by Moristotle


  1. Beautiful dog. I guess in away it was lucky you fell down. I know how that sounds. People tell me how lucky I am to be alive after being shot and I say no--lucky would have been if the bullet had missed.

    1. No, I agree, I WAS lucky, and have always thought so. My surgeon told me that a fall like that, a few years later, after the tumor had grown some more - albeit slowly - would have killed me instantly.

  2. They say things happen for a reason - was the tumor there and you guys did not know it? so the fall brought it to the attention of the doctors and did the surgery. Can you recall if you were experiencing lots of headaches (more often than usually) before the fall?

    My d-I-l's father was experiencing lots of headcount. And they started happening more and mor. He & his wife were renting a summer home for a month on the Jersey shore. My son, his wife the grandkids; her brothers and a sister-in-law and son were visiting them one weekend - the pain became so intense. My d-I-l and one of her brothers insisted he go to the emgerncy room. Thank G-d he listened, he too had blood on the brain (not sure if he had a tumor or not). They did surgery and he is okay now

    1. Thank you, Rita, for sharing your "d-l-l"'s father's experience (daughter-in-law?). No, I really didn't have any symptoms like that, although, in retrospect, it's tempting to suppose that the tumor might, for example, have been causal of my bout with chronic fatigue in 1990 (although my earlier explanation, that it resulted from my manic "Youie Summer" of 1989, is probably all the explanation needed).

      It's also tempting (to many people) to think that the fall happened "for a reason," but that kind of thinking never appealed to me much. I'm still here, that's all I know. And if I weren't still here, I wouldn't know it.