On August 15th my partner of 12 years, and fiancé, The Fabulous Jonathan suffered a stroke. He’s still aware and able to speak, there’s minimal change of personality or cognition as far as I can tell, however he has suffered partial left side paralysis. He can use and move his left leg a little, but his left arm remains mostly unresponsive.
We have had some ups and downs, especially in the last few years…
For the longest time we were each kind of struggling in our respective careers and finances were tight. For the longest time he’s opted to go without insurance and the cycles of our finances have ended up meaning money was always tight when it was time for my insurance open enrollment where I could designate him for my insurance. So, we would tell ourselves ‘maybe next year’. Even with the Affordable Care Act prices were either too high when his income was low and only went higher when his income started taking an upswing. Also for the longest time it always seemed that our combined incomes were never quite enough to make things comfortable rather than getting by.
In late 2018, I ended up making an emergency trip to Portland, Oregon, to visit a dear friend of 30 plus years who had entered Hospice care. I was able to spend time visiting him over a couple of days before he passed.
In 2019 just as his business was beginning to really take off, he was the victim of an assault, spent most of March of that year in a medical coma due to seizures in the aftermath of a concussion. That same year we had a friend of ours living with us who was dealing unresolved trauma and untreated anxiety disorder and depression. At the same time, I had transferred into a new location at the company I work for and unwittingly into an extremely high-stress and emotionally and spiritually toxic workplace. Jonathan wrestled with some remaining health concerns into the later portion of 2019, our friend moved out, and after a lot of workplace drama and turmoil… I took a demotion to transfer out of that location. By Late 2019 a lot of things were starting to look up again for my Bear and I, his business was picking up and I was in a much healthier workplace and started to unpack some of my very complex feelings about 2019.
As I’ve detailed here previously, in early 2020 I nearly died from congestive heart failure. Jon kept the home fires burning so to speak and was able to eek by in the 2020 real estate desert getting enough photo shoots to keep bills paid. Once I was awake from my medical coma, I was able to make sure bills that needed paying got paid as well from some money I had tucked away for a rainy day. Thankfully I had insurance through work and once I was released from the rehabilitation Hospital had a couple of weeks to relax before I had to return to work and a daily 50 mile each way commute. All of this in addition to the rest of society’s collective trials and tribulations beginning in 2020…
By late 2020 my work situation changed, and I was able to transfer back to an Orlando location for work. The same location that had been a toxic pit of stress but was now under new management and had been rather thoroughly transformed from the wretched hive it had been before. I still dealt with some residual stress simply being in a place I had had such freakish levels of stress in before… but thanks to some great co-workers and managers and some efforts of my own both in terms of Craft and self-care I have been able to work through a lot of those troubles.
Moving into 2021 things began looking up again. I was working in a great environment and the real estate market picked up spectacularly here in Florida, which meant Jon was busy-busy-busy! My own job, in the Hospitality industry, caught fire in February due to industry staffing shortages and the Idiot Governor deciding to eliminate all Covid precautions in Florida. With those two factors I ended up working doubles and turn-around shifts and 6 day weeks for a few months. We were both doing really well financially and able to start getting a lot of ducks in a row financially and ‘adulting’ wise, both as individuals and as a couple.
Things were looking great, and we talked about finally getting married and moving forward with a number of plans to arrange our lives more for ourselves and our ability to spend some time together having more experiences and making memories rather than work and more work and retreating into our individual and sometimes very introverted bubbles.
Then, a couple weeks ago, he had a stroke during a photo shoot. He called me concerned because he’d experienced severe dizziness and trouble walking and balancing. I encouraged him to go to and ER or an Urgent Care to get looked at, and in that first conversation he dismissed the idea… because of course no insurance and cost concerns. I asked him if he needed me to call in to work and he said no.
An hour later, moments before I was to leave the house, he called me back. He had finished his photo shoot, tested his blood sugar (he’s diabetic), and driven to a local Walmart to pick up a blood pressure monitor. By the time he got to Walmart, he had realized he could not move the left side of his body. As he told be this, his voice was slurred. I told him to call 911 (emergency services here in the US) and then call me back. I called work and was able to get the morning shift person to cover for me.
I then called a couple of close friends, leaving messages, alerting them to the possibility Jon had had a stroke. One of them was DK, whom you may remember from my Red Letter post, asking her to return the favor of prayers and magick for me and my beloved. Then Jon was calling me back.
He was talking a little clearer and was waiting on the Ambulance. I was torn between franticly asking questions and trying to be brave and keep him calm/reassure him. He was trying to calm me down and in the distance we could both hear the sirens. He in person and myself through the phone call. I heard the EMT’s arrive and start asking him questions. Heard them tell him that it sounded like he had a stroke. At some point I was saying “Bear, Bear,” our mutual nickname for each other as I tried to get his attention, I asked him to hand the phone to one of the paramedics. He did and I spoke to the paramedic for a few moments, explained who I was and asked where they were taking him.
The local hospital in the town he was doing the photoshoot at, about an hours drive from Orlando by the Turnpike, didn’t have the facilities to properly care for a stroke patient and they were going to have to helicopter him to the nearest appropriate hospital. They were waiting on the life-flight crew to make that determination. The paramedic got my contact information and promised to call me back. I asked him to hand the phone back to Jon. His voice was still off, but he wasn’t slurring his words as badly. I told him I loved him and to call me as soon as he arrived at the Hospital. My Bear, as of course he would, asked me to bring him his charging cord… I told him yes, and we rang off.
There were a few more phone calls from friends who I had only been able to message as I waited to hear from either Jon or the paramedic. My friend Bishop W (of an Independent Catholic Church, he and his husband are dear friends of ours) agreed to add him to their prayer list. My best friend M agreed to ride up with me whenever I found out where the hospital was. Finally, I heard back from the paramedic and he told me Jon was at a hospital 2 hours drive North of Orlando. Due to weather conditions and proximity it had been the best available option.
The Hospital was closed to visitors because of Covid 19. Not surprising as Hospitals throughout Central Florida are full to capacity with Covid patients, new reports have told of many cases where emergency care patients had to wait in the ambulance for up to 2 hours before any bed inside the hospital came available. Jon was relatively lucky in that they were able to get him into the ER immediately.
Around 3 hours later by the time I got to the hospital, M in tow with me for moral support and to help me pick up Jon’s car which had been left in the parking lot of the Walmart halfway between the hospital and our home. Jon was still in the ER and I wasn’t going to be able to see him. I spoke to him by phone, and to one of the ER personnel getting an update on his condition… dropped off a couple of things for him and then headed home…
That’s not all there is to the story of course, but, that’s all I can really go into right now.
Jon’s home now and we have new challenges before us. He is able to stand on his own now, which is progress. He still needs help walking any distance but more for someone there to help make sure he’s staying balanced because he can’t get up on his own if he falls. His left arm is still unresponsive but from what I’ve been told in cases like this the arm takes the longest to recover.
We are working our way through these latest challenges, and I know we can deal with them. We have family and some very good friends; and a few more financial resources than most; although this is in part robbing the Peter of my Retirement funds to pay the Paul of urgent needs while also navigating some tricky financial waters. We have a roof over our heads, and we have each other. With the help of our Ancestors and Spirits and Gods, I know we will get through this.
At the same time though?
It. Is. A. Lot.
So, that’s what’s been going on with me and why things continue to be intermittent at best here and in some of my other social media. At the same time, I realized tonight that I needed to not only write some of this out of my head but to also engage in some writing to touch my creative side. I’m going to light a stick of incense in offering to the Holy Powers and call it a night because I need to be up early tomorrow in order to get our home ready for the many adventures and challenges the future seems so ready to bring.
Bliss, and Blessed Be folks,
Pax / Geoffrey