The Anatomy Of A Stroke [Day 3]

My father appears to have discovered the secret of one hand clapping.

I stared at him quizzically. He knew I was there, but he was somewhere in his own world, flickering his hand back and forth, sometimes slowly, sometimes faster, for no apparent purpose yet extremely focussed in his conspicuous task. ‘What are you doing?’ I eventually asked. He laughed his newly lopsided laugh, “I’m clapping.” Meanwhile, his left hand remained entirely motionless, steadfastly refusing to join in the applause. It would seem that in his head he was indeed clapping, but his eyes revealed something entirely different. I say ‘eyes’, but his left, of course, currently another casualty of muscular dysfunction. “Sounds good to me, ” he said, and laughed again.

After yesterday’s lurching sideways shock, it was good to have an important part of him back; lucid again, much brighter in the eyes, yet no longer in hospital: “I’m at the Upton Inn.” A dry sense of humour makes for a strange bedfellow at times like these, but it was genuinely him. And I think he’s going to need the sense of humour in the weeks and months ahead.

My dad. Alan. Now rapidly approaching his 79th birthday. And yet, even with his two hip replacements, an already dodgy arm and a chronic neck problem that was meant to see him attend the pain management clinic early in the New Year… this time last week, he played 8 holes of golf! Moaned about the pain, the freezing weather and his current form, roughly in that order.

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