Louis Fowler’s Pandemic Journal: Strokin’ It

“I can’t feel my face…”

I was sitting on my ladyfriend’s couch when a sudden numbness had come over the right side of my head; I kept slapping it harder and harder, but there was zero feeling there. We sped to the OU Emergency Room—go nine times and the tenth one’s free!—and I was dumped off closer to the street than the entrance, a cadre of doctors panicking like I was an escaped test subject.

Don’t have a stroke during the Coronavirus.

They strapped me to a chair and I was wheeled almost completely around the building, into an ER bay. As questions were shouted in my direction, I tried to stay awake as the sensual nurses undid my shirt and jabbed needles deep into my arms; their query was more about any recent exposure to Covid-19 than what I was going through at that given moment.

A nurse came running down the hall and yelled into the room to take me to the pandemic floor because I might be positive for the virus; my heart sank and I could only get out a limp “Wha…?” as the nurses and aides argued momentarily over the decimation of my immune system as I began to black out. I must’ve been okay though, because the next thing I knew I was on the bed of a CT machine.

The doctor on duty said that it wasn’t a stroke, but a stroke “reactivation” of my previous outing. As they drew up my discharge papers a few hours later, I started to feel nauseous, a wave of sickness washing over me every time my head moved; it was like I could psychically feel every temporal time-shift before it happened, if that makes sense—and I know it doesn’t.

On the ride home, the world began spinning at alarming rates; I asked my ladyfriend to pull over somewhere on Lincoln where I had myself a Lardass Hogan-esque puke spree, expelling torrents of juice, water and bile from my system. Even though I knew this wasn’t right, I continued on home.

I woke up about ten the next morning and couldn’t walk anymore; I mean I tried, but kept crashing hard onto the floor. The ambulance came a few minutes later, my eyes clenched shut as I tried to get things to right themselves once again which, as you should know by now, never did.

Strapped to a bed, they wheeled me to past the rows of tents where silhouetted medical crews did their shadowy medical things. The pain from a new set of forced needles in my arms was too much for that early in the day, so I passed out yet again, this time wincing for death.

But instead I woke up on the third floor, where I stayed for few days.

Because of the pandemic, there are no visitors in the hospital. The parking lot stays empty and the halls are a ghost-town; there’s no teenage candy stripers offering books, no gift shop flowers with “get well” balloons or visits from cloying family members that you don’t want to see. But now you really do.

On the third floor—the neurology floor—all I ever heard were the sleepless screams of patients that just wanted someone to end their lives.

My doctor came by the next day and told me that, after taking another look at the earlier scans, I had another stroke. It was a small one, not like last time, but it was still a bad bleed nonetheless.

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I personally want to thank the hard working doctors, nurses, attendants and janitors that are truly doing God’s work, tending to the sick and dying during this trying time, often on double-shifts with only sporadic bouts of coffee. From people like me to those that are far worse off, the staff at OU did their damndest under the circumstances to make sure I was Covid-free. They are the true heroes of this pandemic and don’t forget it.

Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.