You have not heard from me since January because I had a major stroke. It was most probably January 19th, but I was found and taken by ambulance to Harborview Medical Center on January 21st. I was in assisted living from February 11 to March 2nd when I returned home, with care. It is a miracle I am alive. By all rights I should be dead. But I’m not.
Ironically I was working on all the pieces I should have had in place before the stroke. I now have them in place. You should have them as well if you live alone or have family and friends who do.
I am just flat out miraculously lucky. I have friends who worried when I had not called back or returned e-mails for a day or so—“that’s not like Kathleen.” A friend called a friend who called the manager of the complex where I live. The manager found me and I gather I was every shade of purple, green and blue that can be imagined. I was lying on the floor and luckily still, but barely, breathing. By all rights I should be dead. By all rights I should not be able to write this at all.
I know other people who live alone. One fell. He was seen on Tuesday but did not come to a couple to meetings he never missed. Friends called his manager who found him dead on Friday. He had fallen and had died from sepsis. This does not need to happen.
If you are over 60 and live alone you can protect yourself: 1) get a signal necklace or other device to alert others if you fall or have pain in your chest; 2) have someone designated as power of attorney (POA) for medical decisions if you cannot act or speak for yourself; 3) have HIPPA clearance for family and friends who can speak for you if you cannot, otherwise no one can speak or advocate for you when you cannot; 4) complete an Advance Directive so friends and doctors know what you do and don’t want to happen to you medically if you are in an accident or are seriously ill.
There’s more, but I will stop for now. These are good places to start. Small steps can save lives—yours or someone else’s.
So, dear readers, I am not going away. I will continue writing but just not as frequently. And with a new and different lens. Thank you for your long-standing support.
Kathleen O’Connor © March 14, 2014 And a Happy St. Patrick’s Day (published 3/17/2014)