As the few who check in here have noticed, I’ve not posted in a while. I had already slowed down as a result of the new day job, but there’s been nothing for a while. There is a reason for that.
This is a post that is hard to write, and it is a post I never expected to write. I am, to put it mildly, glad to be here to write it and have already given thanks many times for the this. That said, life has taken some very unexpected and difficult turns.
Growing up, my Dad and I loved to watch thunderstorms. In particular, I remember sitting with him more than once on the porch of our cabin watching the storms roll down the ridges and mountains. When it got close, we would go inside.
On June 30 at approximately 0445 hours, I was sitting on the covered front porch of the house where I rent a room, drinking coffee and reading the news on my phone. To my north, about a mile to a mile-and-a-half away, a thunderstorm was moving off and I was enjoying watching the light show from what I thought was a safe distance. I was wrong. Turns out, as storms break up lightning can and does hit miles away.
One second I was reading one of my regular reads (Instapundit, I think, not real clear at this point) when a bolt of lightning hit somewhere off to my right. The blinding flash and roar were almost simultaneous, and as I lost sight my body clenched up tight. I distinctly remember having a brief Buckley moment, thinking “This is going to hurt” and wondering if when my eyes opened/worked if I would be looking at Heaven, hell, or other. When my eyes could see again and my body unclenched, I was delighted to see I was still on the porch.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that while the main bolt did indeed miss me, a part of it came over to say hello. While I normally prize manners, I really wish it hadn’t. Not realizing I had been hit, I went inside, gave thanks to God and the Blessed Mother, and went to work. The next day, I did not feel good and despite being light-headed thought I just had a bug. I called my doc and went in to see a nurse practicioner. We talked about the strike, but she admitted it was the first time at that practice they had seen someone who had been so close to a strike and I needed to watch myself carefully. Meantime, some of the symptoms did seem like a bug so we treated it as such. A couple of weeks later, I spent four hours in the ER with cardiac issues including a BP that was well above stroke range.
Since then, I’ve learned a lot about what it means to be hit by lightning. Most people (including a number of medical professionals) expect blast trauma and burns. They do happen but from medical papers and other resources, they are not necessarily the most common injuries. Far more common are concussion/TBI-like symptoms on the neurological side, and a variety of cardiac issues ranging from mild to severe. What happens varies widely, as the effect of the strike is much like firing a stun gun into the motherboard of a computer. You don’t know exactly what will happen, but it’s not likely to be good.
In my case, there is no clearly defined entry point. Indeed, it is possible that the charge could have built up by induction; but, there is no way to be sure. By the time we started figuring out what had happened, several weeks had passed. That said, it would appear that it exited out the ball of my right foot.
Many of the short-term effects are being, or have been, dealt with. That said, there remain cardiac issues and neurologic issues. I’m having to have yet more cardiac tests next week, and we have the BP down to more reasonable levels. I was supposed to go to TBI/concussion therapy, but there have been insurance issues so that remains in the future. It also appears I’m going to have to save up for some custom orthotics, which the insurance doesn’t cover.
The long-term prognosis is mixed. Many who are hit go on to have personality changes, problems doing things they’ve done a thousand times, or even to lose the ability to learn new things. I have had both memory and cognitive issues, and while I hope getting into the TBI/concussion therapy will help, there is no way to predict or prevent the emergence of long-term issues. While the day job has been amazingly supportive, I’ve had to miss more work than I care for, especially since I don’t get paid sick days. I’ve also had to drop the number of days I’m working, both because of fatigue/cognitive/other issues and the need to have time to go to the many doctor visits that now fill my life. If anyone cares to hit the tip jar here, it would be appreciated. Even more so as I may find myself having to explore medical disability if we can’t get things improved.
For all that there are no pre-existing conditions or physical damage to the brain, the circuits are scrambled. At this point, I’ve begun to lose confidence that we can unscramble them as the longer it takes to get into the therapy the more likely it is that short-term effects could become permanent and cascade into starting some of the long-term effects. Right now, I’m unsure I could start a new job, as the physical and mental challenges may be beyond my capability.
When I said it was hard to write this post, I meant it on several levels. It is not easy to write about my situation. Worse, it is hard to write cogently. Writing has always been something that flowed easily, which is why I was able to write so many articles about science and high-technology efforts. Writing fiction is not as easy, but I’d like to think I was starting to get the hang of things.
Writing this post has been a challenge. The flow is not there, and finding the right words is a challenge. I’ve already had to go back and fix a few things where I did not have the words right. On a good day, I can write, but it seems I’ve had few of those of late. I’m really hoping this does not take my writing from me, as it has been not just a career for many years, but a release on many levels.
I’ve had challenges before, and I plan to meet this one head-on. This is a very different battle from any I’ve fought before and comes on top of others that have me being advised to move to the desert SW. I had hoped that might happen this winter, but that is now on hold.
I do not know what the future holds. I have Faith. I have friends. There are resources out there I have yet to discover. Even more than hitting the tip jar, I would very much appreciate your prayers and good thoughts. I need all of them I can get.
UPDATE: I am overwhelmed and humbled by the responses to this. Thank you all and I will be responding more soon. Welcome Instapundit readers! It’s been a while since I’ve seen an Installanche take down a site, but I’m seeing it did so last night. 🙂 Thank you all for the support, prayers, and encouragement offered. There truly are not words to describe how grateful I am for all. Bless you.