My Peter Pan dream nearly died


I didn't want to write this. However, my friend, Edwina Jane, in Sydney said it would be good if I shared my experience with The Island readers.

It looked normal on Sunday April 16. I drove very slowly from Kurunegala to Colombo. I went for a walk and watched IPL ‘cowboy’ cricket on TV. The following day, I woke up at 4.10 am. My usual wake-up time is 4.30. I have to host the daily Programme on Sirasa TV, News 1st, and Pathikada. I found it difficult to get dressed. The right side of my body was benumbed. I had to struggle to put on my clothes. The condition became worse when I tried to put on my socks and my shoes; my limbs were stiff. I remembered my late father, who, too, had suffered a stroke.

Dirk, who was at the reception, saw me struggling to talk. I still cannot remember what I told him. I couldn't even walk down the two small steps that led to the garden. I remember Dirk holding me and helping me and saying: "Be careful. Check your blood pressure. Have you checked it?"

I managed to get into the car, but could not start it. Maybe, I was seated there for about five minutes. As Dirk, who opened the gate for me watched, I reversed the car though I felt it was a different world I was in that morning. Then I drove off. But, after a while, I realised that I was moving in the wrong direction. I think my eyes were half closed and I held on to the steering wheel.

Maybe it was about 5.00 am when I reached my office at Dawson Street. How did it happen? I wouldn't know. However, the moment I parked the car I became normal. I took the elevator to my fourth floor office. I can’t remember what I told the amiable security guard who greeted me courteously. I knew that something had happened to me and that I couldn't think clearly, much less talk.

It is strange what people do at times like this. Instead of calling anyone in Sri Lanka, I called my schoolmate, friend and doctor Niranjan Thilakaratne, in Sydney, and told him what I was going through. Niranjan shouted: "Go to hospital now and call me when you get there. I will tell them what to do." I told him that I would have to do my daily programme on TV and will go after that. Niranjan sounded angry: "Go now. Take some aspirin if you can." Then I remembered Maiya Gunasekara (Dr) and called him. He said, "Are you mad? Don’t do the programme. Rush to hospital. I will call them." I asked my colleagues on the third floor News Room if they had any aspirin. No one did. When I informed them of my condition, they arranged for a vehicle to take me to Nawaloka hospital. Maiya had already asked them to admit me to the Emergency Unit of the hospital. I was treated immediately and taken well care of. If I remember right, they said my pressure had shot up to 270 or something like that. My good friend Thasen Chang’s brother, Dr Thashey Chang, was informed and my friend SW Chang, too, called. I then called Thasen. He said he would inform his brother.

When I met Dr. Thasehy Chang, he said it was a transient ischemic attack commonly described as a mini stroke. He said only 20% of the people got that warning. It was a wake-up call!

I shouldn’t have driven to office. I could have met with an accident on the way. I should have called an ambulance.

That night I penned this: "Monday the 17th April- Before Sunrise- I headed towards the Sunset, In the darkness and city lights, lifeless, holding on to the steering wheel- And my Peter Pan dream nearly died that Monday".

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