THE STROKE, 1995
The Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) selected my firm to be the government’s plumbing and heating contractor because my firm hires minorities and also provides training opportunities. At the government’s request, I agreed to be their air conditioning and refrigeration contractor, too, as part of my personal commitment toward helping the Small Business Administration (SBA) attain success in its goal of hiring and training minorities in local communities. Because I was given this additional government contract and responsibility for the government’s air conditioning and refrigeration, I decided to go to night school to further my education. As I write this, I am happily married to a wonderful woman. My wife encourages me to study hard and do my homework dutifully. But I was not always so fortunate. In 1995, when I was married, I was getting ready to go to my trade school training for air conditioning and refrigeration.
All of a sudden, it felt as though a lightning bolt had hit my head and went through my head to my toes. I dropped to the floor in intense pain, and everything was dark. My throat was plugged, and I could taste blood. Then my vision partially returned and I could see, as if through half a window, that I was lying in a pool of blood and vomit. I tried to lift my head so I wouldn’t drown in my own vomit and blood, but I couldn’t turn or lift it. When my wife came home, she found me lying on the floor and called the ambulance. I remember the paramedics moving me, but my sight was still limited— maybe one eye was not working. Suddenly, my head started buzzing again, like another lightning bolt was coming, and I was afraid, because I knew then what it felt like. After I got in the ambulance, everything went dark again … until I came out of the coma, about thirty days later. I was 99 percent paralyzed when I regained consciousness, and I had to learn to walk and talk again, as well as regain my memory. It gives me great inspiration when I think back on my experience, because when I fell into darkness, I started praying and begging God to remember me. I was so scared and afraid to die. Then, suddenly, there was a speck of light shining so brightly, like a star floating toward me but about ten miles away and within a tunnel. The star became as bright as the sun, so bright that I couldn’t keep my eyes open. When I woke up, I knew that God had answered me and had given to me another chance to live and to do the right thing in my life.
The doctors had me in a head clamp, which is a vise-like device, because they’d had to cut my skull in half to remove the blood clot. I could hear, but I could only pretend to comprehend what they were saying. I thought that we had lost the world war to Russia and that the Russians had captured me, because at times, the doctors seemed to be speaking Russian. I did not know that I was paralyzed was about to happen. One doctor said, “Sherman, blink your eyes once for yes and twice for no.” Then he said to the other doctors, “Sherman can comprehend what I’m saying.” The doctor asked me, “Do you want your legs cut off?” I blinked my eyes twice for no, and the doctors stopped the operation. Instead, they put in a new device called a Greenfield filter to dissolve the blood clots.
The doctors told my wife that it was against the law for them to perform an operation on me that I did not want or approve. She said, “He is 100 percent paralyzed; he can’t talk to you.” They told her that as long as I could blink my eyes, I was communicating. This would stand up in court. After the doctors talked to my wife, they came in to see me. One said, “Mr. Turner, it seems you have some money and are successful, but in your condition, you will surely lose your wife. It’s our job to tell you that you had better watch yourself and not put trust in your wife.” I blinked my eyes one time for yes. That day, I knew I was going to lose my wife, but with the blink of an eye, I’d saved my legs. Also, as my tears flowed profusely, I knew, deep in my heart, that God had plans to use a 99-percent–crippled man like me at some point in the future.
Excerpted from "Unforgettable 'Memoir': God remember me" by Sherman Turner. Copyright © 2018 by Sherman Turner. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.