What’s Shaking?

Well, it’s been a curious week. Wednesday, I worked on my roof about two stories off of the ground.

Last night, I dreamed about wrestling tyrannosaurs.

And this morning, I woke up in an ambulance.


The ambulance man said, “You’re in an ambulance heading for a hospital.”

“Why?”, I asked.

“You fell in your bedroom, hit your head, and had a seizure. Your wife found you and called us.”

“Huh. ”

As you may have figured by now, I was not entirely compos mentis … he picked up on that as well.

“What day is it?”, he asked me.

“Dude, I’m retired. I rarely have a clue what day it is.”

“OK,” he said, “what month is it?”

I was in luck. Recently it was my kinda sorta wedding anniversary on November 22nd. So I said “November”, and got that one right.

Finally, he asked me my name, and when I got that 100%, he figured I was OK. And I was. Well, I still couldn’t remember occasional words, but other than that I was good.

So I got to the ER, and they did the usual poking and prodding. And at the end of the day, well actually the middle of the day, sleepy, tired, and not too worse for wear, the ER cut me loose. This is me, jaded, faded, seized, drugged, and weary, but not too worse from wear …

willis with bruises.png

The downside of all of this fun is that I cannot drive until I’m six months seizure-free. This was the only time I ever seized, so I have good odds. The neurologist is booked until December, once we get there we’ll know more. Right now, what I’ve told you is everything I know. As to “What’s Shaking?” in the title … that was me.

Big props to my Gorgeous Ex-Fiancée, who is also a Family Nurse Practitioner (between a nurse and a doctor), and who made all the right moves in the time of need.

Let me close by saying that I absolutely do NOT want condolences or sympathy. If the seizure had happened twelve earlier I’d be dead off of the roof. I have said more than once that I am among the luckiest people on the planet, and this doesn’t change that at all. All it does is to push me to live harder, deeper, and stronger in the little time that we all have left here on this awesome planet.

And what I do want is for folks to take this in the same way—as a reminder that no matter how much we might like to ignore it, our hours here are far, far too short.

So all that I can wish is that every one of you has the same luck that I have been fortunate to have in my life, and that each of you takes all of the joy available in this life for yourself, your friends, and your family.

One of my stranger weeks …

My best to everyone,


78 thoughts on “What’s Shaking?

  1. I hear you, Willis. This will be condolence-free.

    Last year I had an occlusion in my left branch retinal artery, taking out one quarter of the field of vision in my left eye. Like you, I felt lucky. An eye stroke is way better than one in the brain.

    I got double lucky, as my recovery was swift. I have none of the classic markers of risk, save one – I was for fifty years a heavy tobacco smoker, though I haven’t used it for eight years now.

    May your recovery be as swift, man. We need your wit and wisdom.



    Liked by 1 person

    • I, too wish Willis a speedy and successful recovery. Life sometimes deals us a hand of lousy cards, which we have little choice but to play and pray that our skill and a bit of luck will keep us in the game.

      A few years back I had a slightly different happening… a CRVO (Central Retinal Vein Occlusion), which affected a substantial portion of my central vision in one eye. I was fortunate to receive prompt and effective treatment (which involved direct injections into that eyeball), and recovered something like 95% of the central vision of that eye. I thank God for that recovery, as most victims of a CRVO suffer a substantial and permanent loss of vision in the affected eye.

      Still, as you say, far better than a brain-stroke but nonetheless a very disturbing incident.


      • Willis, I’m your age and have been banned from ladders by my ex-fiance for about 10 years now, since the last time I rode a 15ft one back to terra firma as it slid from the side of the house with me perched atop it. I looked like you in your photo after my bumpy landing. Hope you’re on the way to a speedy mend after your seizure.

        Dave, I’ll see your CRVO and raise with a choroidal melanoma around the retina.
        That meant lights out for good.
        But fortunately, the cancer was completely enclosed within the eyeball, so having it out meant no spread to rest of the my carcass along the optic nerve.
        I had read that Bob Marley was diagnosed with a melanoma contained within his big toe when he was in his 20s, but declined to have the toe amputated because he fancied himself as a soccer player.
        It spread, slowly and steadily as these afflictions will, to his organs, and resulted in his early demise a decade or so later.
        So when I was told my melanoma was contained, and no evidence of cancer anywhere else, I took Shakespeare’s words – “out, damned spot!” – literally.


        • My grandfather had a similar condition, resulting in the loss of an eye. It’s amazing how little you value your vision until something threatens it.

          I thank God for my blessings (including the complicated ones I don’t yet understand) whenever I reflect on my life.


  2. No Condolences for a rare curmudgeon. I’m happy you will have more free time to post and tweet. Have a very happy Thanksgiving Willis! ☺️


  3. Hi Willis. Best wishes for a speedy recovery. I fell of a roof once and now I don’t go up there anymore. And the orthopedic surgeon said nobody over thirty should climb on a ladder. I thought that was a bit drastic so I stopped when I was 65. Get well soon. Regards, John.


  4. “I have said more than once that I am among the luckiest people on the planet …”

    I feel the same way. Situations unfold and I seem to dodge bullets.

    Those experiences have had me thinking, on more then one occasion, is it all “luck”? Luck ought to even out over time, but I’ve been (self-consciously) lucky for over 70 years. So, is there some personal brain/body component (e.g. scenario analysis, reaction times, peripheral vision, immune response, etc) that we don’t understand, but that significantly raises the odds in our favor?
    If I was a lot younger, and not as busy, it would be a subject worth exploring in depth. For instance, gather groups of self-described lucky people together and see if there are some common threads. It would be a fascinating field of study.

    But I’ll leave that to others and simply enjoy my luck.



    • Good idea about comparing lucky life experiences.
      Like you, I now reflect on my 3 score & 10+ years with the fickle finger of fate presenting ups & downs.
      Earlier life events which at the time I categorized as adversity, I’ve now come to consider as lucky let-offs.
      “Jeez, how much worse could that have turned out” is often how I think of such things now.


  5. I’m sorry to hear it, Willis. Hope you and your beauty’s ex-fiancé have a wonderful Thanksgiving. —from a fellow east Shasta County native of similar vintage.


  6. hiya Willis from downunder;-)
    you DID have an mri I hope?
    ,my younger best mate was told she’d had a seizure too, and after 2 of them(which werent) she had a huge stroke.
    amazing recovery against the odds but changed her life and all around her.
    keep on doing n writing, your work is appreciated;-)


  7. Words to LIVE by. With my recent bladder cancer diagnosis I still maintain the “damn lucky” stance towards life. Live it up, W!



  8. Yikes! The wonders of getting old. You never know what’s coming next, but it often isn’t good. However, that said, I always remember some sage advice that has been around for ages: “today is the first day of the rest of your life”. So I try to make the best of what I am given in life. Best Thanksgiving day wishes to you and yours. We will be having our turkey feast a day late to better accommodate my sister-in-law and her husband.


    • An extension on that from gliding.

      If you’re out with plenty of height and it is time to come home you can just point the nose at the strip and not have to worry about thermaling for extra height. Called a final glide.

      If you’re past three score and ten you’re on a different “final glide” so you’d better pause and have a look at anything interesting on the way

      Liked by 1 person

  9. My daughter has a seizure condition and isn’t supposed to drive. But there’s no notation on her license and she’s not about to stop driving.

    It’s important to know how you feel prior to a seizure and then you can adjust your behavior. You probably don’t know that yet.

    FWIW, seizure appears to be a default diagnosis when somebody passes out for no apparent reason. You might get a neurologist to confirm that if you haven’t already.

    End of gratuitous advice.


    • scraft1
      “It’s important to know how you feel prior to a seizure and then you can adjust your behavior.”

      Willis, some, a few seizures may come with a warning but this is actually quite rare.
      This is therefore not the best advice as most seizures come without warning and without explanation.
      If you are lucky enough to notice you are feeling funny lie down.
      Most damage is done by the fall.
      Some circumstances increase the risk of a seizure. Stroboscopic effects at a disco, I trust this is not an issue but also driving early morning or late afternoon with sunlight strobing through the trees.
      Staying up to late blogging [tiredness], Xmas with unexpected increased alcohol consumption, etc.

      You can be lucky and have just the one or two seizures in your life by sheer circumstance.
      Best wishes that this is the case.

      However there are medical conditions that need to be excluded. Past history of falls, car or bicycle accidents hitting the head are important for your doctor to know.

      Medication is a bugger. Seizures are more likely to happen close to seizures or head injury. Hence the desire to dampen down the brain activity for a few months til you are sorted out.
      If you speak to your doctor he might be able to switch you to something old fashioned with bearable side effects called dilantin or one of the other anti epileptic drugs.
      My suggestion give him/her another try. Being a contrarian this may get your back up. Being logical you might review the situation and change your mind.
      Best of luck.
      Best of Christmases to you and your family.


      • angtech, good to hear from you.

        For me, the main downside of going on the meds is, how will I know if it’s gonna happen again if I’m on the meds? I’d rather see if it was an isolated one-time occurrence or not now. If not, I’ll go on the meds.

        Thanks for your good thoughts. I’m not tossing my neurologist’s advice in the trash, I still have to talk to him about some further tests that he ordered for me.

        Welcome to the blog,



        • Thanks.
          It is tricky.
          Best way to try to answer is this.
          If there is a putative cause for the seizure, Say a car accident with brain trauma and following seizure general advice is to go on an anti epileptic for 3 to 6 months to reduce the risk of the overexcited area of the brain playing up again.
          Also if happens say after brain surgery.
          Unless there are obvious medication side effects the benefit of not having another turn is worth the downside of taking medication.
          A bit less clear when having only the one with no other history.

          Skating on the treatment side is the benefit of reducing the risks [self[ and possibly to other people, not so much if not driving, and upset to friends, family if you have a turn.
          Good to have a nurse for a wife, very helpful.
          Check with the neurologist as he will be happier if informed and can help you assess your decision further.


  10. So my wife has had four strokes in the last two years and other than losing some vision to the right side in both eyes and having aphasia, she’s still rocking. I can only say, get the luminosity app for the tablet or PC and use it religiously. It has improved a number of things for me, let alone my wife!


  11. In my case, I think I would head back to sea. I’ve been in these beautiful mountains of West Virginia for 20 years now. Of course it would require convincing my ex Galley Slave and Anchor Wench (and competent sailing Master) of that necessity.


  12. It’s arguable; they say it’s better to be lucky than good, but I’ve found that the things I’m good at bring me luck.

    Still, I think this is a case where lucky is better than good. I mean, who the heck is good at seizures?!?

    Glad to hear you’re back in the boat and rowing. The ixnay on the driving thing stinks. Hope you get both oars in the water real soon now.

    If you want something to contemplate while you’re on the mend, that is a very interesting shade of purple in the image above. It needs a name.
    Next time I comment it will be from Florida. I’m headed out with the Mrs. and the critters tomorrow. A year or so ago we remarked a bit on your camper and my travel trailer and the topic of close quarters. Well, I did see the photo of your truck bed camper you posted and… you win! :o)



    • There are many character traits that lead to success in life, but I’ll take good luck over all of them. If I can’t ensure good luck, I work on building character.


        • Indeed… as the saying goes, The Lord helps those most who help themselves.

          The most successful people in this world are not simply lucky. They worked hard to recognize and then be able to take good advantage of opportunities when they arose. It wasn’t just hard work, either… they were willing to risk failure, learn from that failure, and use those lessons when the next opportunity arose.


  13. Dam Willis, that sucks.
    I have friend, Lou, who had his first seasure last year. He’s my age, about 5 years your junior.
    I went to visit him when I was in Nova Scotia to find he was just two days out of the hospital after the seasure.
    Asking him details of what happened quickly made me realise that the family, his wife and son who were home with him hadn’t yet had this conversation. It was astonishing to hear their different versions of what happened.
    Like you, my friend had little memory of the event but came too on the way to the hospital.
    He had started bouncing off the walls. His autistic, mature son who is a few inches taller and much heavier wrapped his arms around him and wouldn’t let go till the censure finished. Meanwhile his wife had called an ambulance. By the time they got there my friend seemed his usual self. He even offered to make them all tea, like you do for visitors.
    The family really appreciated my friendship and bringing out the conversation.
    Lou is a musician with thousands of tunes in his head. His biggest fear is losing the ability to play. I stayed for two days, enjoying their company. The second evening he got so relaxed playing his mandolin, he dropped his pick into the sound hole. We had a good laugh while he shook it out and played another.
    Lou wasn’t allowed to drive for the next six months and he’s still on a reduced medication. I don’t think he’s had another.
    So there’s hope for ya. You will just have to accept help from your lovely ex-fiancee and friends.
    Stay strong


  14. Willis – wishing you the best! But, I have to admit, having a seizure was one of the dumbest things you have done. Don’t do that again!


  15. I’m beginning to think that bedrooms are dangerous and should be outlawed. Grandmother stroke in bedroom, Dad stroke in bedroom, friend broken collarbone getting out of bed, now you with a seizure and fall in a bedroom. Maybe you were safer on the roof!


  16. Willis,

    Hang in there, here’s a toast to to a full recovery and an understanding of what caused the seizure.

    I had a stroke in March and my ex-fiance recognized the symptoms and called 911, I spent 3 months in hospital and a recovery center that I can only describe as something out of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
    Fortunately I made a full recovery including the rewiring my brain and the re-plumbing my brain’s blood supply. the re-wiring I knew was a possibility the re-plumbing was news to me. I no neurological deficit which means I got my driving licence back and as much as I love my ex- fiance her driving is not my favourite part of our relationship and the thought of being driven by somebody else for the rest of my mortal days did not sit well.


  17. I had seizures for 44 years, starting with the explosion and fire in Santa Cruz that you surely remember, having cleaned up the evidence on the site shortly after the occurrence. I lived in the fear of an aura at any moment after morning coffee and lived with this monkey on my back around the world during my various adventures. With acupuncture treatments for my bladder cancer the seizures melted away.
    Living without that fear has changed my appreciation for morning coffee for certain. Glad you survived the fall and the bunk on the head. Hope your Thanksgiving was everything you wanted and that Noel brings much joy.


  18. “What’s Shaking?” …… You are the only the second person in my lifetime to use that expression! The other was somewhat of a mentor on life’s outlook when I was in my late 20’s and early 30’s and running “wide open”. Many of your tales and stories of your life reflect on my own outlook and risk taking or really just adventures to seize at the moment. So maybe we have been having “seizures” all our lives!

    As far as “It’s funny but I find the harder I work, the luckier I get ” …… well experience helps you to avoid careless and stupid situations. Or rather enter those situations with subconscious eye not to do the same shit again that you did 30 years ago! LOL


  19. Willis,
    In the chosen path we take we never know how many crooks lay before us. Especially as we get older the more they come at us for some of us. I don’t believe in “Luck” for everything happens for a reason no matter how big or small it is. Take care and I miss your posts here and at WattsUpWithThat….


  20. Best wishes to you, Willis. I’ve lost exactly too many friends lately, so don’t go. Please.
    This reminds me of the Zen story about “good luck, bad luck, I don’t know”.

    I recently went through 5 1/2 years of seizures, for which no certain cause was ever found. Then, as that gruesome time was ending, someone broke into my shop and stole my ladders. Climbing them was already out of the question, so all I really lost was resale value. Good luck, bad luck…


  21. Best wishes Willis. You are right once again about these issues and that living life at our age requires more effort to keep us in the game.


  22. Hello Willis, I just read about your seisure, and just want to wish you a speedy and successful recovery.

    And happy new year with many new articles.



  23. Live fiercely, my friend. And so you are. So you do. I hope to end up that way also.

    Our experience with seizures comes with our 33-year old, 3 mo premature, cp, and seizure disorder. Scary as Hell. While they stopped with puberty, it seemed that every time he had one, we lost a little bit of him. Don’t know how accurate that was. Still, he continues to chug along, proving to us every single day that there is a God and that for some reason he loves us. How else would we end up with someone like our little guy in our lives who makes us smile every single day? Cheers –


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  25. How about an update on the December visit to the specialist?

    Did you get an all clear for driving?
    Regarding that interesting shade of purple, which still needs a name, I’ve been getting bruises like those in your picture for about two years now. They are not the same as the black and blue bruises I got in years past. Those took a really hard blow to form.

    Your post came to mind because one just appeared on my forearm two days ago. I have no sense that I struck or was struck by anything. I was sitting down, surfing the interwebbies, and there it was; a purple oval about 25mm x 20mm. I had been puttering and obviously hit something with my arm, but not hard enough to notice.

    Anyhow, I know you are a few years older than I am, probably are getting a bit of skin thinning, and it occurred to me that you may not have struck your head and face all that hard. The extent of the purple of course indicates you took a good smack, but it wouldn’t surprise me to find that you didn’t suffer much damage from the fall and will only be chasing the seizure mystery. I hope the doctor found that to be true.

    Your recent writings have been your usual fine as frogs hair output, so I’m encouraged by that observation. I’m sure we’d all like to hear any good news if you have any to share. I would.

    P.S. – Made a “fishing bike” to hold my gear to go down to the nearby intercoastal and fish. No, I don’t wear a helmet. Never did as a kid and I’m not going to start now. I’m living on the edge. Gotta feel the wind in my hair and the breeze whistling past my hearing aids ;o)


    • H.R., thanks for your concern. I spoke with the neurologist. He said my MRI was boring. I said “Boring is good.” He said to get my drivers license back, I have to go for three months without a seizure.

      Regarding the bruises, that’s because I take a baby aspirin every day. They put me on that after my heart attack, the 2013 attack I didn’t even know I had.

      And the fishing bike sounds like great fun. What kinds of fish live in the waterways there, wherever “there” might be?



      • Dang! Looks like maybe 6 weeks before you are self-propelled again? Bummer.
        We’re staying on the Gulf coast of Florida midway between St. Petersburg and Clearwater.

        The common local fish are red, gag, and goliath groupers, bonefish, snook, cobia (yum!), redfish, sheepshead, black drum, sharks of various types, stingrays (Fun! Like reeling in a kite through water), several types of snapper, and tarpon, saltwater catfish, black sea bass, whiting, pompano (yum!) and more.

        I love tying into the stingrays and the smaller ones are excellent eating.
        The RV park is on the landward side of the Intercoastal Waterway. It’s about 10-12 minutes by bike to the Intercoastal, where they have some short fishing piers, and a further 3 minutes to Madeira Beach for some surf fishing.

        The fishing bike is just the addition of two rod holders on the back and a bit of bracing to hold my bait bucket. I may put a front rack or basket on for tackle, but for now I am using a tackle backpack that is also a canvas stool.

        Now that I have my bike to go fishing, that leaves the tow vehicle with Mrs. H.R. so she is not stuck without wheels. That had been a bit of an issue when our planned activities diverged.
        Thank You for mentioning the baby aspirin. I took that for a while before I retired but gave it up. As a manufacturing engineer, I was always wrenching on broken equipment or making fixtures or tooling. The slightest puncture or cut would have me gushing blood, and I got a lot of them almost every day, so I gave up the baby aspirin.

        But now that you mention it as a blood thinner, I believe one of the meds I’m taking related to my Type 2 diabetes may have a thinning effect. It sure is one heck of a coincidence that I’m getting these ‘Purple Rose’ bruises starting about the same time I was diagnosed and put on a couple of diabetes meds. I’ll ask the doc or look it up myself, but your aspirin explanation for your bruises points to something similar for me. Thanks again.


        • Awesome. We love our RV (a Lance 650 truck camper), so not being able to drive slows us down a bit … although my gorgeous ex-fiancée does most of the driving.

          The fishing sounds great, but then I’m a commercial fisherman, so all fishing sounds great.

          Best to you and your good lady,



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    • Thanks for your kind wishes, dear lady. So far so good, no recurrence to date. I go in on the 26th to get a letter from my neurologist authorizing me to drive a car. So life goes on …

      Best to you and yours,



  27. Oh my goodness! an amazing article dude. Thanks However I’m experiencing challenge with ur rss . Don抰 know why Unable to subscribe to it. Is there anybody getting identical rss downside? Anybody who is aware of kindly respond. Thnkx


  28. Wow Mr E, I missed this post. Wondering how you are doing now? Judging by some of your contemporary writing … still got the whole bowl of noodles working. I’m mid 50s and my gratuitous senile event was “sudden hearing loss” about 9 years ago, one ear just switched off. Something about viral degeneration. Sucks, people get mad at me when I don’t hear them.

    Would enjoy a follow up post about your recovery I’d you care to do it (perhaps at 6 months).



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