Phoenix Fables

Ceiling Stroke

Did I tell you the Bear had a stroke?

Don’t worry it was long ago, and there are no obvious lasting effects other than (once in a while) she won’t shut up about it.

Of course it was all my fault.

We wanted to redo the house. New floors.  Open up the kitchen and living room, new cabinets, granite island and counter tops,  knock down a wall so the teenage Boy could have a “double-sized apartment” to himself (spoiled rotten little shit).

Did I get a fully licensed contractor and ask for 3 bids on each part of the re-model?  Fuck no.  I got a tennis friend who did “cabinets” to do it all.

“I’m OK at the other stuff, but I really specialize in cabinets,” my tennis friend said.

“Sold,” I said.

He showed up on time (most days).  He and his son worked hard. He cut the price when we did some of the labor.

The Boy and his teenage friends “loved” the demo.  They hit the walls with sledge hammers, ran straight at the drywall with their own bodies and ripped out the insulation with their bare hands. Yes, the future cancers will be my fault too.

Fun fact, the Boy found a newspaper in the wall of his bedroom from the day he was born.  We moved into the house when he was 5.

All the remodel went well, except… We took down a living room wall and had to “extend” the vaulted ceiling another 8 feet.  Where the new drywall ceiling met the “vault,” we had a large lump of “mud” to cover the awkward join. Our ceiling was a hump back.


Yes we had a hump…  Stole the image from here.

“Just paint it,” my tennis friend said.  “It should be OK.”

It wasn’t.

The Bear was up all night with a roller and an extension handle so she could reach up 14 -18 feet and paint and paint and paint that ceiling. She started at 6 p.m..  She quit at 6 a.m.

At least I’m pretty sure that’s when she quit. I went to bed at 10 p.m.  “Good night honey.  It looks fine.”

I rolled over as she collapsed in bed cussing me about my “fucking ceiling”.

Next day she was sitting outside talking to her mother. She had put at least 3 coats of paint on that ceiling. With each coat the hump only got bigger.

“Wasn’t that hump on the other side?” I asked.  She didn’t think it was fucking funny.

I was on a ladder blocking the back door as I was scraping the old paint off the patio ceiling.

“I’ve got to get inside,” she said. “I’m not feeling well.”

“Just let me finish this section, then I’ll come down,” I said.

She pushed through the ladder, forced open the door and squeezed inside and almost knocked me to the ground.

That aggressive, dangerous move was not normal, but I figured she was exhausted and angry.  She laid down and took a nap.  Pretty normal for a Sunday afternoon.

Next day we both went to work,  By 11 a.m. I got the call. The Bear was in the emergency room, she had had a stroke.

The ER doc recognized the symptoms.  He had a fire captain in the week before.  He had been installing a ceiling in his cabin.

The captain and the Bear were both in their 40s.  They had dizziness, loss of balance, headaches, nausea, and couldn’t hold their head up without splitting headaches.

When you lean the head way back for long periods of time, there are several little arteries that supply blood to the brain that get pinched.  Pinch them long and hard enough — they burst.

They burst the same way for the captain and the Bear.

Prescription: rest, don’t lean your head back and make sure things don’t get worse.

She had some headaches and a little memory loss for a short time.  Scarred the shit out of her. She quit smoking, got a gym membership.  She hasn’t gone back to smoking or the gym (1 out of 2 ain’t bad).

We hardly ever speak of it.  Until she makes some small mistake or is slightly forgetful.

“I had a stroke — you know,” and we laugh and laugh at what could have killed her… you know because it’s funny — NOW.

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