by Adam R.

On Christmas Eve 2018, I woke up to my husband having a stroke. My higher power carried me through, and I want to share my experience, and the hope and refuge provided to me. I experienced one God-shot after another. From the morning until midnight I was aided. The first miracle was to get my husband to agree to go to the hospital. We live four blocks from Kaiser’s emergency room, but we still needed an ambulance. Alone with him, I had to get to the front of our complex to unlock the gate. As it would happen, my neighbor, a nurse practitioner, was out walking to work. I asked her to watch my husband. She went straight in to our bedroom. The ambulance found our hard-to-find address in minutes. 

At the ER, I found that Kaiser had an advanced stroke intervention program. He was prepped and brought to their neurosurgery center in Redwood City. My sister and her wife met me at the ER and prepared to drive me to the Peninsula. It was a miracle I was able to reach her. 

As I was about to pick up the phone, the neurosurgeon called

The neurosurgeon called me and described the risks and benefits of the procedure: the possibility of the procedure making the brain damage worse, or the possibility of permanent disability or death. With this dismal news, I called our niece back East. We worked out how to get ready for the next family member to call: my husband’s 91-year-old mother. She had lost her daughter a few years earlier, and I was to tell her she might lose another child that day. As I was about to pick up the phone, the neurosurgeon called. I didn’t think I would hear from him for hours. Good news: the blood clot was removed successfully and the paralysis had subsided substantially. He was already stable. The sense of relief and gratitude rushed through me. I was able to call his mother at least with less than miserable news—a ray of hope. 

Christmas Eve in the hospital room was not what I had planned. I had to find somewhere to eat and bring some sense of the holiday into the room. Across from the hospital a K-Mart was still open. The store was slated to be closed. There was a shortage of staff, long lines and a credit card system that barely worked. I was able to give the cashier patience and thanks. I walked out with an oversized Christmas owl, whose head stuck out of the bag. 

photo credits available on request to [email protected]

Across the parking lot was an Applebee’s. I walked in with my owl. I was seated at the bar with sports blaring out of mounted TVs overhead. As God would have it, a drunk sat next to me, stimulated to conversation by the owl. I remembered the saying, “There go I, but for the grace of God.”

I got an Uber to the Alkathon at 2900 – 24th Street

It was time to leave the hospital. I got an Uber to the Alkathon at 2900 – 24th Street. I know that I needed to be with my fellows. I had friendly driver and we talked the whole way to San Francisco. I didn’t mention what had happened. I was grateful to have a break from the drama of the day. 

When I arrived at 9:55 PM, I was greeted by a locked door. One of the women from the meeting let me know the last Alkathon meeting has just ended. I said what was going on for me. I was full of gratitude just to be with my A.A.s, none of whom I had ever seen before. Then one of the women announced they were taking me the Dry Dock, where there is one more meeting. For me, this never happens. A group of three young women took me, a total stranger, a 61-year-old man, into their car and drove me straight to the meeting. Again, I was taken care of. 

They drove me straight to the meeting

The meeting was about to start. I sat in front of a woman who resembled my first A.A. sponsor from 35 years ago. There was another woman who I knew slightly from meetings. There was also an African American Uber driver who talked about 12 Step work he had done in his car. After the meeting ended, I walked around trying to find some food. With nothing open, I decided to wait for the 22 Fillmore. Who gets on but an old timer from the meeting! We talked along the route and both got off at Geary Boulevard. He went in one direction, and I went home. 

Instead of feeling lonely in my empty home, I felt the power of all that had happened. I was truly carried, as was my husband. My heart was full of gratitude. This was my Christmas miracle. 

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