Head Cases And a Stroke of Genius

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By Cate Drew
Every morning I take the dogs out, get the paper and start my husband’s coffee. Seems simple enough, until one February morning I hit a patch of ice walking to the mailbox. Impossibly, I landed on my head with the rest of my body following. My bell was rung, as they say, and by the time I got back to the house with the paper (I am task-oriented for sure), the vision in one eye starting to fracture and my chest really hurt , so we called 911.

Off I went by ambulance for a head scan and a chest x-ray. Turns out my chest pain was “blunt impact trauma.” People who fall out of airplanes without parachutes can tell you all about blunt impact trauma, if they survive, of course, which they don’t. My head was fine, too, says the doc…except, “the scan did show something.”


“Have you ever had a neurological episode?” he asks.

“You mean a stroke?”


“I don’t think so,” I said, but then I wondered: is one of the symptoms of a stroke not remembering you had a stroke?

A week later, in my primary care’s office, we chatted (a little too casually) about the big dead zone in my head and what to do about it. He suggested an MRI, so as we scheduled it, he advised that while I was waiting for the appointment, perhaps I could (his words, not mine) “use your brain a little more.”


This guy apparently didn’t know who he was talking to. I can recall every Gilligan’s Island episode (even the crappy black and white ones). I know how tall Clark Gable was, what I ate for breakfast six weeks ago, what everyone I know had for breakfast six weeks ago, and the locker combination from 6th grade. I win my brothers bar bets when they call me at midnight with trivia questions. Hell, if I used my brain any more, I’d be bending spoons a la Uri Geller (See? I even remember who Uri Geller is!).

Of course, we learned my dead zone was abnormal, but normally so, which meant my mental vault of useless trivia, bad jokes and old boyfriends’ preferred sex positions were all safe and sound.

Thank goodness. After all, you never know when you’ll need to know what happens at the end of the Gillgan’s Island white hunter episode. Could win me some serious money in a bar bet some day.

Written By Cate Drew
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About Cate Drew

I’m on the high side of 40, with three dogs, two teens and one husband, living in a small New England town in a house that’s never quiet. Ever. It’s not that I have a really colorful life – I just tend to write colorfully about it. And there’s plenty of material: marriage to the Man of a Thousand Bad Ideas,.. my mom, who moved Dad’s coffin closer to the street six months after he died so she could visit his grave as a kind of drive-up window…our dog posse…our kids…lots of siblings and in-laws, former co-workers, old boyfriends -- they’re all here. Toss in 14 years of Catholic school and you’ve got a lot of guilt, too. Which reminds me: forget “high side of 40.” I’m 51, damnit.

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