We were both university professors at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and our offices were in the same building one floor apart. Even retrospect, the memory of her appearance sends a jolt through my system.
Campus police and the paramedics were called, and I had some immediate help from a secretary and a couple of Ann’s colleagues. This was the Friday before Labor Day weekend, and classes weren’t due to begin until the following Tuesday, so many people weren’t around. I was fortunate that even these folks were there.
By the time the EMTs arrived, she could not remain upright in her chair and slipped to the floor. They took her to Columbia Hospital which was right across the street from the UWM campus. Ann was unsure when her symptoms began, which knocked her out of the running for that stroke medication that can only be taken within the first 3 hours of symptoms (which has now been expanded to a 5-hour window). When the films came back, the neurologist brought me into the ER office for a look. I was stunned, as it looked like a large chunk of the right side of her brain had been hit hard. The physician said to me, “this could be incompatible with life”.
I swear to God that is what she said. This could be incompatible with life. Your reaction might be wtf? Mine was. Imagine being under that distress and trying to decipher that phrase. I had to clarify in plain English.
“Are you saying this could kill her?”
The answer was an affirmative nod.
We had a 14 year old at home. We had a mortgage. We had expenses. We had a life with dreams and hopes and expectations. Now, I couldn’t think more than a few minutes ahead.
Ann needed more specialized treatment and she couldn’t receive it at this hospital. She was going to be transferred to Froedtert Hospital which is affiliated with the Medical College of Wisconsin. There they had neurologists and neurosurgeons who experts at some different procedures.
I was living my own horror story.