Thursday, July 26, 2007
Flashback: 1987: A Subdural Hematoma Interrupts the Placid Flow of Life.
[Fifty years of politics written for my kids and grandchildren]
With the Quaker Oats Anti-Takeover bill unpassed but well-covered in Canada, causing Brascan to pitch in its cards, I resumed lobbying and government relations advocacy on a more placid note for Quaker Oats. In the Spring of 1987 I went to White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia and the Greenbriera classy resortto attend a conference in government relations at which I was to speak, sponsored by the Public Affairs Council, a trade association consisting of companies with government relations programs. On the night before I was to speak, I spent several hours reading in my room, then went to bed. At about midnight, as was usual for a distinctively middle-aged gentleman, I arose to visit the bathroom in a semi-slumber.
On the way back to my bed I hazily imagined where the bed was in my mental formulation and threw myself down on it only to discover that in the darkness I had missed the bed and flung myself on the floor where I cracked my head severely on a piece of furniture. In fact so loud was the smack caused by my head that the guy in the next room called downstairs to inquire about the commotion. I groggily got up and made my way to the bed. There I slept a kind of disturbed sleep and awoke the next morning with a severe headache.
I made the talk, caught the plane back and resumed work but day after day I was bothered with a dull, recurring headache. I would take aspirin several times a day which would temporarily relieve it. Then a few days later came some light nausea which passed. I had to emcee a political dinner honoring Henry Hyde and felt strange for me that I did not want anything to eat or drink. In the midst of the event I had the unmistakable feeling I would destroy the evening by throwing up. It didnt happen. The next day being a weekend, I went to a so-called Doctor in a Box, a commercial establishment funded by Resurrection hospitals where you would be treated by a doctor on a moments notice. She said it was probably a sinus infection. The weekend passed and I returned to work only to bother the company nurse for some aspirin.
She was a veteran nurse and a very good one who undoubtedly saved my life. She asked, why are you coming in here so often for aspirin? I told her it was probably a sinus infection which is what the doctor in a box had said. She asked if I had a fall recently. I thought back and said yes I had about a month ago at the Greenbrier. She said nothing judgmental but added that if, by chance, I had an irrevocable urge to throw up I should go immediately to a hospital and ask for a cat scan. As a matter of fact, she added, if she were me shed go to a hospital and get one anyhow. That afternoon while having coffee, I raced to the Mens and threw up so I called my wife and we arranged to go to Lutheran General Hospital for a c-scan.
After the c-scan as I was buttoning my shirt, I suggested that Lillian and I grab dinner at the Marriott-OHare near our house. When we arrived at the Marriott, Lillian was called to the phone by the waiteran occurrence I thought strange. When she returned, white-faced, she said: Were not eating. The hospital called. You have a blood clot in your brain and they must operate tonightas soon as we get there. As we drove to Lutheran General Hospital, I thought: ah, its so soon over for Tommy Roeser. All of age 58 and now to undergo a brain operation. Then I thought: do they have a Catholic priest at Lutheran General? I have to go to confession and make my final peace with God before I come sauntering in to His company.