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I had a stroke

Kevin Murphy, September 21, 2021, 14:07:13 (UTC), Gossip

Of the four men in the room, Tony has it worst. A very elderly gent, he spends six hours a day catatonic, and the rest of his time sleeping, stirring every few minutes to wail loudly as if in horrific pain or equally horrific sexual ecstasy.

He’s fully stroked-up.

When the nurses come to wash him and clean up his shitted bed, which is every three or four hours, he hurls barely comprehensible insults and threats and tries to strike them with flailing palms he cannot form into fists.

They work away uncomplainingly, soothingly, like he’s their favorite granddad. Observing them work at 4am on my second unsleeping night makes me cry for the first of two times during my hospital stay. These guys are the closest thing reality has to angels, and I hope Boris chokes to death on his 3% while waiting for an ambulance.

There’s an octogenarian in the next bed, Trevor.

He’s white, but the full top half of his face is shining ebony from where a piece of furniture intercepted it when he briefly blacked out and fell during some kind of cardiac event. He looks demonic, but he’s the sweetest guy you could ever hope to meet.

They’ve put him in an elaborate medical collar and told him he can’t take it off for the next two months, not even to shower. One wrong move and his spine might snap like a twig and he’ll spend the rest of his life worse off than Tony.

At least he won’t have to dress up for Halloween, he grimly muses.

Then there’s the youngster, Tim, who reels off a laundry list of his ailments, many of which he thinks will soon kill him, not least of which is the fact the he just accidentally proposed to his short-term girlfriend, who said yes.

He has an upcoming try-out for a local sports team, but his deepest wish is to have both his legs amputated.

In this room of four, I feel like the lucky one.

And I’ve just had a stroke at 44.


It happened at some point during the evening of the 13th into the following morning.

There was no pain — no physical sensation at all, not even a headache — I simply woke up disabled and oblivious to that fact.

My first inkling that something was amiss came when I found I couldn’t double-click my mouse with my right index finger. I had a general weakness in my right arm, but I chalked this down to having slept on it funny.

I felt a bit off for most of the day, but it wasn’t until the evening, when I tried to insult my cat, that I realized something was terribly wrong. Even after three attempts, the words got garbled on the way out of my brain and slipped and slurred out of my mouth. I could see the cat didn’t look offended in the least.

I knew that I’d had or was having a stroke, and I was in a taxi to the hospital 20 minutes later.

All the NHS TV spots about strokes focus on teaching the viewer how to spot the symptoms of stroke in others, presumably because the victims themselves are usually too addled and confused to recognize them in themselves.

This gave me comfort. I was totally lucid, in thought if not in speech.

Three doctors, one consultant and a CT scan subsequently — after many terrifying hours of uncertainty — confirmed I’d had a “mild” or “small” stroke, buggering up my dominant right arm and leg as well as my speaking voice.

My face was mercifully spared. Still a straight-up 10, ladies.

This all happened due to a combination of recent stresses and two prior decades of hedonistic, borderline arrogant devil-may-care intemperance. Too much booze, too many fags, not enough self-control.

I’ve known I have hypertension for the best part of a decade, and done precisely fuck-all about it. Getting stroked was not so much predictable as inevitable. I have nobody to blame but myself, and this list of people (pdf).


My right leg is probably the injured member I’m least concerned about.

I can walk in a straight line easily enough, albeit with a noticeable limp, but my brain currently finds some usually straightforward perambulatory maneuvers surprisingly tricky.

I haven’t fallen over or tripped, not once, since the stroke. But, like Zoolander, I can’t turn left.

My hand is altogether more worrying. My stroke was on the left side of my brain, meaning the right side of my body was affected. I’m right-handed.

I can use the hand to open a door, pick things up, flush a toilet — I even assembled a piece of flat-pack furniture yesterday — but anything requiring more than basic coordination is challenging.

I can’t write using a pen without significant effort. I tried writing out my first name in caps on Thursday morning. The four attempts in this image took about five minutes to produce. And it was painful.

There’s no cognitive problem here, it’s purely a case of not being able to physically control my hand the way I could a week ago. It feels heavy, and I have trouble controlling the vertical axis with any degree of finesse.

I can slice bread but I can’t easily butter it. The second time I cried was on Friday when I managed to get my buttering time down to under a minute per slice. Bittersweet rather than self-pitying.

There are a few things I’d like to do with my dick that are no longer possible.

But, more pertinent to this blog, I can’t double-click a mouse and can’t tap a touchscreen. The fingers are just not fast enough to get the correct timing right now.

Typing on a keyboard is challenging, with my hands trying to cooperate across two different time zones. If you spot any typos here, they will likely be letters on the right side of the keyboard. My backspace key is getting the workout of its life.

And then there’s my speaking.

Right now, I’d say I’m comprehensible 95% of the time at peak, with my performance slipping as the conversation progresses and the fatigue kicks in.

My voice is more gravelly, sometimes a little slurry. I sometimes stammer or trip over my tongue.

People who have heard my pillow talk the morning after a boozy night out would recognize this voice. Everyone else now gets to hear it without experiencing the horrors of the night before.

But let’s look for some silver linings, shall we?


Silver lining number one: my opinions are no longer worthless on social media.

A week ago I was just a straight white able-bodied cis male, and therefore of no value whatsoever. Today, I am Disabled, and my point of view matters. I now have a card to play in the identity politics game.

Ricky Gervais better watch his fucking back, and if the next ICANN meeting is anything less than 100% accessible, I may hire a lawyer.

I know, I know, I’m not saying I’m as good as Gay or Black or Trans, but I reckon I’m at least as good as half-Jewish (on my father’s side, maybe?).

Silver lining number two: no more guilt using the disabled toilets.

Silver lining number three: I probably qualify for a Blue Badge, which in the UK gives you priority access to convenient parking.

These things are so coveted that I’m even tempted to buy a car.

Silver lining number four: the stroke seems to have severed the part of my brain that makes me want to drink alcohol. I sincerely hope it lasts, but right now I have no desire to touch a drop of the stuff any more.

I’d go so far as to now say I think I’ve “completed” Alcohol, in much the same way as one completes a video game.

I’ve done all of the side quests, gathered all the collectibles, visited all the secret locations, done all the stranger missions, partaken of all the optional activities, maxed out all my stats, been awarded all the achievements…

I’ve partied. I’ve met interesting people in unusual places. I’ve had one-night stands with 9s and 2s. I’ve danced like nobody was looking, and sang karaoke like nobody was listening. I’ve sent all the embarrassing texts. I’ve hooked up with ambiguously gendered bar girls in Bangkok, been robbed by a hooker in Vegas, begged for coins with a homeless guy in Shoreditch. I even found the secret naked French pool party at the mansion in Vietnam.

I’m now at 99% completion, and taking on the final story mission, but the last big boss battle turns out to be a race with my five-year-old niece to see who can tie their shoelaces the fastest.

I believe there’s some DLC that extends the story, but it’s called “Cirrhosis”, and I don’t like the sound of that.

The fact that I’m now a sober man condemned to live in a body that looks and sounds perpetually drunk is a cosmic irony so on-the-nose that it would make a Greek god blush.

This must be what it’s like to be Scottish.


Silver lining number five: I’m told that, with patience and practice, this is fixable. That’s my focus right now.

I honestly don’t know how this is going to affect DI in the coming weeks.

I do know it’s currently less than seven days since a doctor first used the word “stroke” in my presence, and that almost everything I do, even the simple things like typing, is tiring. I had to take a break for a nap three times during the writing of this piece.

I intend to continue to work, just don’t expect to see many long-form analytical or editorial pieces in the near future. If a story is causing me stress, I’ll spike it sooner than risk another health crisis.

I doubt I’ll be booking any speaking engagements any time soon.

I have some other ideas too, but I’ll get to those later.

Thanks for reading.


Comments (36)

  1. Acro says:

    Kevin, I am glad you are alive and even in a position to write all this! Do take care of yourself per the Dr’s orders. I wish you a quick and full recovery.

  2. Brad Mugford says:

    I am sorry to hear that. I wish you all the best and for a full recovery.


  3. Jose Rasco says:

    Thanks for sharing Kevin. Glad the stroke didn’t mess with your sense of humor or irony. Be well and take care of yourself. This industry and its players will continue to blow shit up so there will be plenty for you to come back to mock and report on whenever you’re ready.

  4. Andrew says:

    Kevin, so sorry to hear this. But I’m hopeful given your apparent ability to still write with wit.

  5. Jonathan says:

    Do the fucking PT/OT!

  6. Adam says:

    And the faux Geordie accent? Darlington, whatever…

    Having watched a very dear friend –little older than you, but not much– recovering from a stroke, it will get better. Rehab will get annoying but worth every moment.

    Carry on writing, and be well.

  7. Marc Trachtenberg says:


    Sorry to hear about your situation but glad you still have the same spirit. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

  8. Jean says:

    Tu devrais écrire un bouquin, en anglais. La langue de Shakespeare est merdique mais tu as suffisamment de vocabulaire. Continue d’écrire .

  9. Ram Mohan says:

    Sorry to hear, I hope you get better soon!


  10. Jamie Zoch says:


    I read this several times and laughed many times.

    Take care of yourself, give it some time and stay positive. You got this!

  11. Oli says:

    I’m very sorry to hear this Kevin.
    I had a stroke on Oct 7th 2020, so I’m just coming up to 1 year post. I can truly tell you it does get better, and quite quickly, but it will change things. Fatigue is a real pain.
    If you want to chat about experiences just message me.
    Keep strong buddy.

  12. Mo says:

    So sorry to hear this.
    Dont give up when it seems to hard to handle!

    Do rehab- Use the pros.

  13. Bill Sweetman says:

    As long as you retain your wicked sense of humour you will make it through this challenging time in your life. Take care of yourself, listen to the doctors, and keep pushing forward to make a full recovery. Go Kevin!

  14. Mike O’Connor says:

    This is a remarkable piece of prose. I’m really sorry to hear how it came about.

  15. Thank you for bringing us along with your recovery which I’m sure will be a full one. Glad you are on the mend and were able to self diagnose. Stress is a killer. One suggestion is to eat more raw fats like avacado.

  16. Christa Taylor says:

    So sorry to hear this Kevin.

    “A sense of humour helps us to get through the dull times, cope with the difficult times, enjoy the good times and manage the scary times” –Steve Goodier. Rooting for you so take care, listen to the experts and stay focused on making a little progress each day.

  17. Braden Pollock says:

    Hang in there, buddy. I’m sure you’ll be back to your old self again soon. You’re too stubborn to do anything else 🙂

  18. Paul McGrady says:


    Sorry to hear this news. Get well soon!


  19. Kurt Pritz says:

    Silver lining #6: Enhanced ability to write heartfelt, evocative prose.

    Your piece touched … no … slammed on every emotion. I am sure that reading this would help many people both behind and ahead of you on the recovery trail.

    As you can see, you have many friends.

  20. Jeff Neuman says:


    Wishing you the best and keep that sense of humor….you will need it.

    Having had a several family members that have had strokes, including a daughter at less than a year old, I know it is going to take everything you have to re-wire your brain to do those things that you used to do so easily. I am not going to lie to you and tell you that it will all just magically come back, but doing your PT/OT/Speech Therapy is critical. The tiredness and need for naps may never go away, so don’t resist them. You will need the energy.

    Speech should be the quickest to return….and invest in good speech to text programs. Dragon is the one my daughter uses, but I have not researched them in a while. The fine motor skills in the hands can take the longest, so those speech to text programs are amazing.

    That’s all the advice i can give for now, but if you want to know some other tricks we have learned over the years, I would be happy to help. But the rest is up to you my friend.

    Silver lining 1 is that you are alive and can continue to live your life (with some slight modifications). So get better, because we still need your brand of journalism and honesty in the world!

  21. Jeff Sass says:


    A) Sincerely glad you are okay and have a positive attitude and good path to recovery…

    B) You missed a silver lining: the stroke clearly enhanced your comedic writing abilities as this post was perhaps the best executed bit of humorous text ever to grace the pages of your humble blog. Go, now, and apply for a job in the writer’s room of TED LASSO and give that wanker Brett Goldstein a run for the f’ing money!

    C) Love you and wish you a speedy and complete (except, perhaps, for the booze thing) recovery!

  22. Tasha Kidd says:


    You are an excellent writer and it is gallant of you to share your recent experiences so transparently. I pray for your complete recovery. Life has a way of keeping us humble and kind, in the face of circumstances we don’t fully understand. I know the tough struggles of the health recovery journey, so if you ever want encouragement, reach out.

    As you recover, you no doubt have thought about dictating your writing, and then transcribing through fiverr or AI options.

    I’m sure your doctors are doing a great job helping you recover. If you ever get frustrated with progress rates, a lot of your friends have experience with helpful supplements, that don’t interfere with doctors’ Rx.

    Keep us posted; we are all rooting for you to bounce back!

    Health to You,


  23. James Brown says:

    Sorry to hear this news Kevin, wishing you all the best in your recovery.

  24. Elad Kinstler says:

    I wish you a speedy recovery Kevin

  25. Sivasubramanian M says:

    Shocked. I first thought it was some fun headline, sad to hear this, yet amazed that you are going through all this with so much emotional strength. As you say, is must be fixable, and you must be up and running in no time at all. Good Life to you Kevin.

  26. Lori Anne Wardi says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience with us — your domain community family. Your beautifully written story will surely help others recognize the signs of stroke in themselves and others. We’re all wishing you a speedy and full recovery!

  27. Blake Gomez says:

    Praying for you sir

  28. Glad you are still with us, Kevin.

    Because of your creativity, at first I thought you were winding us up in a hypothetical story on one of your word journeys, but can see you were serious and this is a rather serious situation.

    It is refreshing to witness that your sense of humor and prose are still with you, and I hope you have success in recovery and will continue to grace us with your incite-fullness here.


  29. John McCabe says:


    Sorry to hear this unfortunate news, delivered (as your readers have come to expect) without any sugar-coating, and in some of the grittiest and hardest-hitting prose I’ve had the privilege of reading. (I only wish it had been fictional rather than autobiographical).

    While the effort exerted in its composition was monumental, this powerful piece is proof-positive you’ve still got the gift. If you can muster it, a positive mental attitude should make the road to recovery by way of PT/OT and the NHS more pleasant for all concerned.




  30. Ned says:

    Scary times Kevin. I wish you all the best in the weeks, months and years ahead.

    I’m glad though that you are able to write about it in your normal irreverent manner! Your Scottish crack was a good one – I have to share that with some friends.

  31. Angie Graves says:

    Thank you, Kevin, for your forthright and open sharing of your situation.
    All the best to you with your recovery.

  32. Phil says:

    That must have been quite some few days for you.

    Take care of yourself!

  33. Mal says:

    Sorry to hear this & hope you recover well.

    Must be something about Forties, September & Domains. I reckon if you type them into What 3 words it would pinpoint a A&E department. Mine was Heart Attack @ 43 also in the month of September (few years ago now).

    Again Take care, good luck & get better.

  34. Scott Claeys says:

    Wow! Glad to hear you’re on the way to recovery and exacting revenge on your list of enemies.

    Best wishes with both!

  35. J.C. Vignes says:

    Dear Kevin,

    For some reason I had missed this post until now but I still wanted to say that (i) only you could make us laugh so hard with something so bleak (ii) this is indeed one of the best posts you’ve ever written and (iii) PT’s a bitch but it’s a necessary evil.

    Take care of yourself, this industry needs your voice and your investigative mind more than ever!

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