Concerning My Loss of Ability: Part One

Yes, yet again, I am whining and complaining about my stroke. That is because I have never gotten over my stroke, and it has been almost five years ago that I have had my stroke.

I know that many other stroke survivors are far worse off than me. I really don’t care. The thing that bothers me the most is that I was taking Warfarin, an anti-coagulant, for three years before I had my stroke. I was doing what the doctors had suggested to prevent a stroke, and I had a stroke anyway.


The VA had increased my Warfarin dosage after my stroke. And the doctors at the VA were very good at that sort of thing. Nevertheless, I guess I needed a higher dosage of Warfarin than I had had. However, I had been trying to remember to ask my doctor to allow a higher INR with my monthly blood tests.

As an aside, INR stands for “International Normalized Ratio” it is an evaluation of the extrinsic pathway of coagulation (also called “ProTime INR” or “PT/INR”). This is a rough measure of the ratio of how long it takes to form a clot. Thus, and INR of 3.0 would, I think, have it take three times as a normal person to clot.

Anyway, the VA doctors (actually pharmacists) want my INR to be 2.5-3.0. I, on the other hand would like an INR of about 3.5, just to be safe. Yes, I am in no way a medical professional, I don’t even pretend to know anything about medical stuff. But, I would much rather bleed out than have another stroke. Really!

And, so, since I know about Warfarin, and how the combination of alcohol and Warfarin interact with each other, I try to drink one or two beers a day, every day, except for the day before I get my blood tested. See, the alcohol will increase my INR to about where I think I want it. So, while I am not allowed to increase my Warfarin intake, I compensate with alcohol.

And, for the record, I am not an alcoholic, I am merely a harmless drunkard.

As I may have said before, my pre-stroke life was working with and on my mind, I was a mathematician and a philosopher by training, I had an almost PhD (don’t ask) in Mathematics and undergraduate degrees in Mathematics and Philosophy. I was in college for a total of FIFTEEN years from 1989-2011, I had worked for Sun Microsystems as an educational developer. Everything in my post-military life was focused on my mind.

Then I had the stroke.

That stroke ruined my life. Forever. Yes, neural pathways can be rebuilt over time, but the rebuilt neural pathways will NEVER be as efficient as they were originally. Never! Thus, I will never be as good as I was pre-stroke. Period.

Nevertheless, I will continue to try my best. I will persevere.

So, what do I do? What do I remember?

In a real sense, it doesn’t really matter anymore. Pre-stroke, I had specific ideas and ways of doing things that many people had questioned, but, I was really really good at everything, except playing a piano. I was the kind of guy who could get away with wearing a kilt in public, and no one questioned my masculinity. Actually, I got positive responses from women, and… well… aggressive responses from men. And, I think that I can still get away with wearing a kilt even today. Except, for the past two previous years, it was a bit chilly on 6 April for me to wear my kilt on that date. {April 6 is Tartan Day. Look it up on}

So, I do the things I remember as long as I can get away with these things. Now, I am uncertain about many of these pre-stroke things that I have done. Well… it’s more like, I remember the things I have done, but I don’t know if I am good enough to do these things post-stroke.

For example: My Mathematical knowledge is sorely lacking. I need to use a calculator when I subtract two numbers. Some people will think that that is OK, but I know it is not. Some people will proudly proclaim that their math skills suck. I do not. For me, it would be the equivalent of saying “Well, I don’t really understand the English language at all”. But, yet, it seems to some people to claim that they cannot do simple arithmetic and are proud of that shortcoming. I know that I cannot do basic arithmetic, and I feel ashamed of that fact.

I used to know mathematics, advanced mathematics. I used to know philosophy. I used to be a shell scripting maniac. I could program in C, C++, Ada, Prolog, Pascal (sorry), and I even did some assembly language programming. I knew why C++ is not really better than the original K&R C. I knew why, exactly, the C-shell was a piece of crap, and that the original Bourne shell, or the Bash shell were far superior to that C-Shell (or the TENEX, or tsch). I was an educational developer for Sun Microsystems. I was a great many things, I did some very diverse things in my past.

I do remember doing these things, but after my stroke, they are all gone except the memories, but not the details.

And as I have said, I have known some stroke survivors that are far worse off than me. And, again, I don’t care. It seems to me like a cruel thing that left me a memory of my once former glory, but not the ability to regain it. And I know that there is no god, there is no “higher power”, there is nothing but other people. BUT, if there was a god, I hate his guts for what he/she/it has done to me. For such a god would not, and could not, be omnibenevolent, omniscience, nor omnipotent. This god would be evil.

Luckily, I am still an atheist.

And these are the things that I remember what I have lost. These are the abilities I once had, but are gone because of my stroke. That is why, exactly, I am so pissed off almost all the time. That is the source of my shame and my anger.


About Kevin Benko

I'm a fifty-something generic humanoid sack of water and meat.

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