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.


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.

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33 Responses

  1. This is an awful time to suffer a stroke – as if there is ever a good time for that.

    Louis, your many fans here at TLO are sending our best wishes and thoughts your way. Those who believe that prayers change anything no doubt are sending those too.

    Hope to see you up and around again soon.

  2. What Graychin said.

  3. Sorry to hear this!! I hope you are feeling better soon!

  4. I hope you’re better soon, there’s a lot in my office that really like your columns! Get well soon. Gods speed to you…

  5. Wishing you a speedy recovery. Glad they finally got you placed and are treating you.

  6. Echoing what Graychin said. Here’s to a speedy recovery.

  7. Louis, I made a small sacrifice to insure you’re speedy recovery. Don’t worry my neighbor has more dogs than she can count.

  8. Stay strong brother!

  9. I’m willing to bet that most people come here to read the latest Louis Fowler article. Get well.

  10. Hang in there!! Looking forward to seeing your work again.

  11. Get well quickly Louis

  12. Hang in there Louis. Glad you made it thru this episode. Look forward to many future great articles from you.

  13. This is the one post where everyone agrees. We even believe Graychin is right. Please listen to your body and take care of yourself. You have a crowd rooting for you!!

  14. Sending healing vibes your way, Louis. Your columns are so well written, and I am a tough critic (retired senior English teacher.) Be well soon!

  15. Take care of yourself first and get well and be well. We’ll be here.

  16. Damn, a hemorrhagic stroke to boot?! Those are the “really bad” kind. Glad you pulled through to tell about it. Take it easy, friend.

    The nurses & other healthcare workers being put through this trauma absolutely deserve hazard pay, student loan relief or other benefits for all they’re doing. As do other essential workers. We can’t simply call them essential in name & expect them to risk their lives & mental health for no additional pay or benefit. It’s like getting a promotion with no raise. More + deadlier work with no additional benefit to themselves. That’s not how “work” is supposed to work. It’s a transaction of effort, time & skills (all non-refundable) for money. Pretty soon we won’t have anyone going into these vital fields if they see this is how we treat them (much like military enlistment).

    /jumps off soapbox before I start blastin’.

  17. Take care of yourself — we can’t afford to lose you! You have a real gift for writing!

  18. Hope you feel better soon, sir!

  19. Man, Louis, you’ve certainly had more than share of unpleasantness lately.

    We’re all in your corner, friend. We all wish you the best and hope you’re back to normal soon.

  20. Was not expecting this chapter in your Pandemic Journal. You took embed too literally. Your admirers need you to Live Long and Prosper.

  21. Get well soon Louis!

  22. Get well soon!

  23. I would be happy to lend you a testicle, if you feel it might help…

    Get better soon, man!

  24. Speedy recovery.

  25. This article made me furious! Even before the pandemic, too many people are mistakenly sent home from the ER only to be much sicker later. I’m glad you finally got the care you needed but the ER policies to have beds cleared out within a certain time frame from admission leads to fatalities too often. Pandemic or not, those facilities should be about providing care, not having impressive numbers.

    BTW, I’m a recovering Integris employee. A little bitter? Perhaps.

  26. Get well soon!!! Need you here for future food articles and such. I had the pleasure of meeting you briefly as I interrupted your walk one afternoon on 23rd. Get well so I can treat you to a future meal!!!

  27. Yes, they’re “small” strokes, “mini-strokes” — because the doctors aren’t experiencing them. And most of us find out about this through a vintage Louis column with acute attention to detail and even a little humor — as if his life weren’t hanging in the balance.

    Stay Strong.
    Stay Safe.

  28. You rock Louis. Hope you start feeling better soon

  29. Thanks for having the courage and strength to post this.

  30. Get well soon. I always enjoy your work.

  31. I hate the term “mini-stroke”. It’s like being “a little bit pregnant”. A stroke is a stroke, and they should have kept you the first time.
    (Sorry, I have feelings about this. Just ask my stepDad and friends who have had brain bleeds.)

    I’m glad you’re feeling well enough to blog about your experience and check in with us. Now go get better so you can discover new places to eat (or avoid) once all this *gestures broadly* lifts.

  32. Get well soon, Louis.

  33. We are rooting for you! You are a gifted writer! Love your columns. Stay strong! Godspeed.

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