EDITOR - TODD LIHOU: Stop to smell the roses, because you never know

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I've often used this space to implore people to live life to the fullest, because you never know when your time is going to be up.

The truth is, I never really took my own advice.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my life, I have a beautiful wife, a great job, an awesome family and even if I don’t win the lottery or write the great Canadian novel I'm content with the course I've charted for myself.

But I take it all for granted on a regular basis. Much like the sun coming up every day, I often expect things to be the same from the time I fall asleep at night until I wake up in the morning.

But last Friday was anything but the same – because I thought I was going to die.

It sounds melodramatic when I read it, and you're probably rolling your eyes, but for a few minutes it sure seemed plausible. I was on my way home with a friend to enjoy a leisurely night of video games. Just a few blocks from the safety of the driveway I started to feel strange. My head just wasn't right, but I thought maybe it was just because the guy in the oncoming car had his high-beams on.

By the time we got home, just a few minutes later, things had gotten much worse. As I walked in the front door my head was definitely spinning and my vision was all screwed up – neither of my eyes would focus properly and I could only navigate by closing one of them.

I asked my friend if I looked alright, and it sounds ridiculous in hindsight, but I actually said: "Are my eyes straight?"

He said they were, but the old lead weight plunged to the pit of my stomach when after a few minutes the feeling got worse.

"What the hell is going on here?"

I called my wife home from her friend's place, and we were driven to the hospital. The doctor ordered blood tests, a heart monitor and the scariest of all: an MRI for my head.

My wife and I didn’t say too much to each other while we waited an hour or so for the doctor to come back with the results of the test.

Everyone knew why these tests were being ordered. I had a colleague at the Standard-Freeholder diagnosed with a brain tumour. He collapsed at work and was whisked away to the hospital only to find out that same day his brain was being ravaged by cancer.

He lost that battle – and I kept replaying that scenario over in my head as the minutes ticked away in the waiting room.

At one point some tests results must have come back from the lab, because I heard a hospital staff person say: "These are for Todd Lee-hoo."

She handed a sheet of paper to another person at the nursing station outside who took a look at it, made a strange face, and then clipped them to what must have been my chart.

At that point I figured my fate had been sealed – she knew the news was bad (or at least that's what I thought). To say it was a sobering event is an understatement you can't truly know until you go through it. My head was still spinning and I figured this was the confirmation that I had been fearing.

But the upshot is pretty simple- all the tests came back with the same result: normal. I have no idea why that person made such a face – maybe they think my brain is just stupid looking?

"No brain tumour," chirped the doctor with a smile.

She couldn’t really tell what happened. "Maybe it's just one of those things."

I'm going for more tests, and outside of Friday's incident I've felt fine.

But my wife and I talked at length about the thousands of people who get a decidedly different answer when their doctor returns with scans and tests that tell a sadder story.

I'm not afraid to say I thought for a while I was one of those unfortunate people who would have to start telling family and friends that I had something a lot more serious than a migraine or inner-ear infection.

So the message is simple: enjoy your life. We all know someone who has been dealt a crippling blow, especially when it's related to a medical diagnosis.

The next time it could be you…or me.

Organizations: Standard-Freeholder

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