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  • Writer's pictureKen

Ken never does things the easy way...

Updated: Jun 19, 2023

So, yeah..something fairly important happened in my life a few weeks ago. In my defence, I FULLY planed in my head to tell my mother. But a lot was going on, and I knew she was going to get stressed...

So...I...may...or I may not...have share said story with my mother.

Every time this happens, a certain chain of events falls into place. I won't bore you with the details, but suffuse to say that a snippet of information managed to travel 9,000 km across two continents and then reach the ears of my mother.

And well...then I got a phone call...

“I’m fine mom, really!” “I’m serious here! Tell me what happened?!” “Mom, really…it’s not like I wasn’t going to tell you. It’s just been a bit busy” “I know I lie to you guys, when you ask me how I’m feeling, but this time we’re being serious and it’s for real and so no more lying."

Hmmm….that's definitely getting filed in the back of my head for future reference.

In the end, I told her what happened. It was a somber conversation but not without its humour. You can’t be a Switzer and not laugh at something humorous in the midst of the serious. At the time we also didn’t know exactly what happening, but she handled it like a pro. But then every time I talk to my mom, our conversation would ends with…

“You should really tell your supporters Ken.”

“Yeah, well, yes of course I mom, I will.” And then every subsequent conversation since then (and I’m sorry to say and it has been longer and busier than I had planned, and there have been too many of these conversations) has ended with, “Have you told people yet?!” “I’m working on it mom, I’m working on it…” Finally, I was like, “Yeah mom, I will. Just RELAX! Now over the years I’ve learned that telling your mom to relaxalways.....I was going to say “asserts one’s authority in whatever conversation one might be having with your mother and gets her to relax" But having thought that through for a moment, unless you’re on your deathbed and your mother is about to outlive you, “relax”, is perhaps not the most beneficial word one could use. I immediately apologized to my mother and she looked me in the eye and said, "I'm tired of trying to answer questions about events I didn't even know happened! If you don't tell people now, So help me, I'm going to come up with a story about the state of your health that they'll still be talking about long after your death!" And so here we are. It's not that I haven't been working on an update letter for quite some time. The issue has been that every time I get something typed out, the situation had changed by morning. But for now, this the story we're gong with. We do have more doctors to see and if anything dramatic changes I will let you know. I’ll warn you now, my memory has gone out the window for the time being, so even though the order of events has been explained to me a few times, this could be completely out of order. Here are a few main points…On Bolivian Father’s Day a few weeks ago, the guys had prepared a lunch for me. Once I was there, I suddenly found that I couldn’t really talk without slurring my words…I was falling over pretty regularly, without much provocation…my fine motor skills weren’t really working, so I kept dropping thing. Isabel took me to Emergency right afterwards and I think I ended up staying and getting an MRI within a few days. Our teams from Saskatoon arrived somewhere in there and I was fairly sad, that after not having visitors for three years, I wasn’t able to spend much time with them. I was only able to join a few events. But Andres handled himself like a Rockstar! and everything went well (when I told him he was acting like a pro, said that he learned everything from an old pro. I’m aware that could either way, but I’m choosing compliment. He also learned the value of marrying up and marrying a girls that's better at most things than you are! I learned that a long time ago too. It definitely helps. Isabel and Cayita were often off in the background doing things that no one ever even noticed. So a huge thank you to them! At any rate, a few days after the teams left, the big one hit. I woke up one morning and I was messed up. I tried to crawl my way along the wall to where Isabel was in our laundry room, but movement was difficult. At the same time, I was trying to call her name, but that didn’t come out very well either. I wasn’t dizzy exactly, but I couldn’t keep my balance and I kept falling over. She bundled me up pretty quickly and took me to emergency, where again I ended up spending a few days. Over time I realized that I was experiencing memory loss as well. Worst than normal even. Somewhere in there, we had two MRI’s done. That’s where it got confusing. We assumed that I’d experienced a TIA stroke (possibly two). We were prepared for the seriousness of it all, but we were told that if you were going to have a stroke, a TIA was probably the better one to have. In the end we spoke to two different neurosurgeons and ended up with two very different stories. The one fellow was in a great mood (we called him the hippie guy) and told us we had nothing to worry about. He told us my brain was in great condition and that he couldn’t see any problem at all. I’d probably live forever. The other neurosurgeon was much more concerned with his MRI. He saw evidence of white matter damage consistent with the first stages of something called Leukoaraiosis (don’t make the mistake of Googling it like I did). He said there was significant atrophy/shrinkage in the brain. To put this in context, my friend who is a neuropsychologist in Canada (who we send all the info to, to help us sort things out) said she cried when she first read that report. That was how serious it sounded. Then thankfully, next day we sent her the MRI’s themselves and that helped. She felt a lot better seeing the images themselves. In a nutshell, it’s pretty much 100% I had a stroke. There is some white matter damage consistent with the first signs of leukoaraiosis but not as bad as the first guy said. There wasn’t s much atrophy as he claimed, which was encouraging. In fact there was less atrophy than you might seen in a 53 year old (well, I’m almost 56, but hopefully I get the ideal). So I have lukoaraiosis, but it the very early stage. It’s actually just sitting there doing nothing at the moment. Why did it happen? Well, that's a good question. Stupid me always boasted about having hereditary low blow pressure and heart rate. Tuns out there may have been times when my brain didn’t get enough oxygen (or some version of this). I don’t care though, I still say that one of my proudest moments at the doctor when he asked me if I was an athlete since my resting heart was 57. I took a moment to look at my belly and they replied, “Yes…yes I am.” It could also have been the result of an “Ischemic” strokes over the years and it triggered the symptoms I experienced over Father’s Day and at the apartment. You’re on your own to Google “Ischemic”. Leukoaraiosis was enough for one day….or year…. So what do I do about it. Well, if you’re one of those big muscle guys who likes to work out and jog and swim laps. Congratulations, you’ll probably live to be a 100 and that. I, on the other hand (I think my athletic ability has been mentions). have to make a few changes. Mostly it’s just healthy living stuff. I’m already started swimming laps and going walking every day. My wife is all over the change in our diet….although she sometimes has as much willpower as I do. In the end, Lozraiosis doesn’t always have very life expectance once it becomes active, so we’ll so our best to keep that little snake curled up in the corner. BUT I could go my whole life with it just sitting there. How I feel currently. Definitely better. There are still issues with everything I mentioned, motor skills, randomly falling over, some slurring of my words….but all of those have improved. I think the one I’m struggling the most with is the memory loss. It’s not that it’s even that bad. I just have to wait a few extra moments for the right word or name to show up. I think it just makes me feel more emotional because it brings back memories of dad’s early dementia days. I know I don’t have what he had. But it has the same feel at times, and it pains me to realize that’s what he went through. With me it’s getting better, but with him we knew it wouldn’t. The other day, for example, I went to our grocery store called IC Norte (yes, yes, I’m aware I shouldn’t have been driving). But I was feeling good and I like I needed to get out. Then suddenly there was a moment when I realized I didn’t know what IC Norte meant. I new the word as clear as day, and I knew I wanted to go there, but I didn’t know what they did there, and I also realized I had no idea how to get there. I pulled over, and thankfully after a few minutes, it all came back to me. But I realized that’s what my dad went through, except it never improved, and it hit me fairly hard. It still does to be honest. So…there you go. If you’ve just read this and it seems like a monkey wrote parts of it. Welcome to my life. I’ve reread it about five times and ever, time I’m like, “What the heck was I talking about there?!” But it is what it is, and we would certainly appreciate your prayers. It's been especially emotional for Isabel going through all of this. We know there are lots of people at home who love us and are praying for us and that makes all of this a lot easier! So thanks for that!!

Lots of love, Isabel and KenPS

There's a cool God story I wanted to share with you to end off with.

One evening I was feeling good enough to join the group for their worship and debriefing time.

While we were sitting in the back yard singing, a young fellow from the team named Tyler came over to me. He said he was feeling God was telling him to pray for me and for my health. He asked if that would be ok.

I told him of course, that would be great! And then while everyone around us continued singing, he put his hands on my shoulders and prayed for me. He prayed for my health and for my healing.

First of all, that a 17 year old guy would be listening to God's voice and then be brave enough to go over and ask an old missionary he doesn't know very well, if he can pray for him....well, that gets me right there!

In that moment I assumed God was having Tyler pray for the health stuff I was going through at the time, and you know, it seemed like a nice thing for God to do.

Then last night as I was swimming in the pool, it suddenly hit me that God wasn't having Tyler pray for the stuff that was happening while the team was there. That would have been good and all.

But the reality is, God was getting Tyler to pray for all the stuff He knew was coming.

God knew the struggles and pain we were going to go through in the next few weeks. The doubts and discouragements. The frustrations and and sadness and even a bit of anger.

So he called a faithful young servant to come pray because He knew what was coming.

God is good.

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