What’s It Like To Be Hit By Lightning?

I’ve been getting this a lot lately, so I thought I would talk a little about what happened and what is happening now. I’m glad to say that a lot of good things are going on, including cognitive therapy.

Last June 30, I went out on the front porch to drink my coffee and read the news at about 0430 hours. There was a thunderstorm about a mile off, moving away from my location, that was putting on a light show. I had checked the weather radar before going out to see what it was doing. For those interested, I was seated facing West, and watched the light show through the brick arches to my right (North).

At approximately 0445 hours, I think I had just finished reading Instapundit when my world went white, then black. I realized as it flashed white that lightning had hit to my right. I thought I was clenching up in fear, but it turns out I was locked up. There was a roaring sensation, not sound, in my head and I remember every hair on the right side of my body standing straight up and those on the left trying to do the same. I also remember as everything went black that I thought we were having a power outage, instead of just a me outage.

I really don’t know how long things stayed black, but it was long enough for me to wonder what I was going to see when the lights came back on: heaven, hell, or something else. When vision returned/lights came back on, I was relieved to find myself still on the porch and intact. At least no chunks were missing. I got up, went inside, and gave thanks to God and the Blessed Mother that the lightning had missed me. Me being me, I got a shower and went to work completely missing that I had indeed been hit. I spent a lot of the day talking about the near miss, even though I was starting not to feel good.

Turns out, burns and blast injuries are not the most frequent result of a hit. Rather, it’s concussion symptoms and I soon had those in spades, along with a spike in blood pressure that had me well above stroke range. Finally got to the point I went to the ER, and that’s when we started putting things together. It’s also when I found a small black hole in the ball of my right foot, and evidence of a corresponding melt hole in the shoe I was wearing.

Right now, the best guess (and it is a guess) is that the main bolt hit a tree that is roughly ten feet (or less) from the porch where I was sitting. There is debate on mechanisms, but some part of it came over to say hello and while we don’t know exactly where/how it went into my upper body, we know where it came out. It is also worth noting that the radio in my car, which was parked not too far from the tree apparently got fried at the same time.

Things continued to deteriorate on the cardiac side, and in October I ended up having open heart surgery to: replace some arteries in one section of my heart that had gotten so inflamed that they were not letting any blood through; zap seven spots on my heart to stop the atrial fibrillation I was experiencing; and, to put a clip on the back of my heart to block off an area to prevent blood clots and strokes. We are still working on BP issues, but things are much better than they were.

Testing found that I’ve lost all the high frequency hearing in my right ear and that the nerves are dead. There is also an increase in my tinnitus. Holding off on a hearing aid for now, plan is to track and see what happens.

Which leads to the neurological side of things. God’s own stun gun got fired into the motherboard of the most powerful bio-electric computer currently known, the human brain. My brain. The good news there is that there was no physical damage found. Cognitive testing has me clocking out very well in most areas, but there is an area where even though I do well on the test, we know there are problems.

One way I’ve described part of it is like saying ‘Oh, I need that and it’s over here in this filing cabinet drawer’ and discovering the thing and/or the drawer aren’t there. Another part is that short-term memory can be really short. The more mental and physical distractions, the harder it is to keep up. It’s as if some of the data in my brain is scrambled. Actually, some of it may be gone. Some of it is just not where it used to be. I’m told that it will be about three years before everything settles down.

So, the cognitive therapy has provided me with some things to do to help exercise the area of the brain/cognition that took the worst hit, and to develop mechanisms to cope with the issues. One of the things I do is make extensive use of lists to be sure I get everything done I need to in a day. This includes sub-lists on each task. I will note for the record that it helps not to leave the lists at home when you head out for appointments and errands.

It can be odd what does pop up in my head on occasion, and equally odd what doesn’t pop up. For one example, I may see a face and hear a voice in my memory, but I can’t match it to a name or anything else. More often, I can associate it with some things, but not with major things. If I stumble, mispronounce, or have another issue, just be patient.

In so many ways, I am blessed. I am alive. I survived the open heart surgery. My brain is clocking along above average in most areas, and there are ways to compensate for where it is not operating at peak efficiency. The support I’ve gotten medically, financially, and otherwise has been overwhelming. I’ve still got a ways to go, and it does bite to have been out of work so long. But, with continued support and prayers, I will hang on, I will recover as fully as possible, and I hope to move out West soon.

Thank you all who have prayed for me, donated, and otherwise encouraged me. Your gifts have made the difference. Thank you.


If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, feel free to hit the tip jar in the upper right or the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo. Getting hit by lightning is not fun, and it is thanks to your help and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.