What It’s Like to Have a Transient Ischemic Attack

brain canal

Recently, I suffered a brain attack—a few, in fact; so stealthy, they’re called transient. I’ve dropped stroke from my vocabulary, since it is too soft and soothing a word for an event that often goes unnoticed until it has choked your words and energy right out of you. A brain attack happens silently, and can be as shocking and devastating, or as deadly, as a heart attack. This is a comparison I wish I did not know how to make (since my heart launched an offensive of its own a few months after my brain attacked). Instead of the noun stroke, shouldn’t the verb form be used, as in my brain struck? Or if a noun, then why not a brain strike? Now, a few months of rehab and a stainless steel implantable cardiac device later, my heart is efficient and fortified. And I’m taking it on a test-drive this morning. My first real run since the repairs and the rehab and the recovery.

I try to concentrate on the beauty all around me instead of worrying about the mess inside me. I want to outrun my fears—baseless, according to my cardiologist—that my brain will slap me down again, harder than before.

In Ploughshares, Mary Winsor recalls an Easter weekend with her family after recovering from health issues. Read more about health.

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Photo: Laszlo

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Mike Dang
Mike is the managing editor at Longreads, and the editor of The Billfold. He has written for Bloomberg Businessweek, Pacific Standard, and the Chicago Tribune, among other publications.