Stroke, A Blessing In Disguise

Burt E. Eaton, 33°

A sudden stroke reminds one Brother of God’s blessings.

The first day of spring, while on vacation in Green Valley, Arizona, was an eventful day for me. Here I was, on a stretcher in the back of a Fire Med Ambulance headed for the Emergency Entrance of Saint Mary’s Hospital in Tucson, 24 miles away. The medics in the ambulance were exceptionally well-trained in what to administer, explaining to me what each medicine or procedure was for and discussing this by cellular phone with those in E.R. (St. Mary’s Emergency Room). Upon arrival, a real miracle occurred: Doctor Fredrick Smith, that area’s top stroke physician, as well as Janet Gaylord, a Registered Nurse of exceptional expertise in the care of such patients, were both on duty.

Doctor Smith had me attempt to do a series of procedures in relation to seeing, feeling, hearing, and strength of limbs. He then ordered numerous tests which took up the rest of the day. Based on his expertise and the early analysis of my condition, I was admitted to the telemetric section of the hospital for treatment of stroke.

The next day, he came to my room and asked if other doctors could come into the room to observe his evaluation, to which I naturally consented. Having the results of the tests in hand, he explained to the accompanying physicians what my reaction to different things meant. For example, the lack of creases on the right side of my face, in contrast to the well-creased left side, was clearly indicative of the results of a stroke.

After pointing these things out to his colleagues, he said: "Burt, you have suffered from a stroke caused by high blood pressure. Such a stroke originates in the small part of the brain, the brain stem, where it connects with the spine." He said it would take several days to stabilize my condition. Then substantial progress toward recovery should be made within the next 30 days if I followed the planned physical therapy program and continued on the medications.

After two days of therapy in Tucson and a day of rest, we flew home to Eugene, Oregon, for the prescribed in-patient physical therapy at Sacred Heart Hospital Rehabilitation Center. Intensive therapy was followed by three weeks of home-care therapy with physical and occupational therapists and a nurse, followed by therapy at the hospital’s outpatient therapy center. Dr. Smith’s 30-day prognosis of recovery was accurate as most of my functions were well on the road to complete restoration by then. Why do I refer to this stroke as a "blessing"? Certainly, the fact that this occurred in an area where such excellent care was available in such an adequate facility was a miracle. It taught me the invaluable lesson that though my bodily control and mental awareness were impaired, there were solutions given me from above through the power of prayer. I do not profess a direct connection with the Almighty, but I do firmly believe He listened to my prayers and those of countless friends and relatives.

It taught me that the ability to feed oneself, to dress, to take a shower, to go to the restroom, to tie one’s shoes, to walk, to talk, to shave, to get in and out of bed, and to see, hear, feel, smell and taste are precious gifts from our Creator.

All the above had been taken for granted before my stroke. The stroke forcibly reminded me that these are God’s given gifts for which we should be continually thankful.

Burt E. Eaton
is a member of the Scottish Rite Bodies of Eugene, Ore., and the President of the Board, Scottish Rite Foundation for Childhood Language Disorders of Ore. He is the Grand Principal Conductor of the Work, Grand Chapter of Cryptic Masons of Oregon, and a member of the Royal Order of Scotland. In the Valley of Eugene, Orient of Oregon, he is currently Master of Kadosh and has served as Wise Master, Chapter of the Rose Croix; Commander of the Council of Kadosh; and Venerable Master of the Lodge of Perfection. Ill. Eaton has been a member of the Scottish Rite for 55 years.