The follow extract is from Antonio Iannella’s biographical short story about Stroke with a capital S, Saigon Siren…
‘STROKE? BUT YOU’RE ONLY YOUNG.’
I often heard that at the beginning of my recovery, even thought it myself. ‘What the? I’m only thirty-eight.’ In my brain’s infinite wisdom, it decided to have its Stroke while I was travelling through Vietnam with my wife and kids, leaving me paralysed from the neck down. Talk about pulling the rug out from beneath you, bursting your holiday bubble or squashing that travel bug.
There we were, an adventure of a lifetime, six months in planning and weeks of learning to say thank you in Vietnamese. Organising a holiday takes longer than the holiday itself. But we often don’t remember that bit. Our mind wipes it from our thoughts, deletes it from our files. But, in this case, it was our family holiday that was almost erased from our memories.
A near death experience is likely to overshadow tales about cruising across the muddy waters of the Mekong River, or walking through fields that once staged a horrendous war. One moment I was standing in the hot sun, listening to the tour guide talk about how the Vietcong ambushed the American soldiers. Then, shortly after, I was lying in an Intensive Care Unit beneath fluorescent lights listening to doctors speak about Stroke.
Stroke is such an unglamorous name, but I guess there’s nothing glamorous about it. It takes possession of you. I was a complete Stroke novice before it happened to me. Suddenly, I’m in a world of needle jabs, oxygen masks and medical terms I can’t spell. A learning curve similar to the experience of buying your first flat-screen television. Though you know nothing about them, the Harvey Norman salesmen asks you, ‘Do you want a built in digital tuner, high definition, contrast ratio, thirty-two or forty-two inches?’
‘I don’t know, I just want a Plasma.’ By the time you leave the store, you know everything there is to know about the technology, Brian Naylor style. Oh, and let’s not forget, you become an expert among mates.
Only thing is, there’s no extended warranty that comes with the brain, no exchange policy and definitely NO MONEY BACK GUARANTEE...
About the Author
Antonio Iannella began his writing journey after experiencing a near-death stroke while holidaying in Vietnam with his wife and three young children. A musician, songwriter and music producer for over twenty-five years, he predominately writes non-fiction tales exploring the challenges stroke survivors face. His first manuscript, Saigon Siren, is a heartfelt memoir intimately sharing his painful rehabilitation, told with honesty, love, passion and glorious Aussie humour. Antonio’s plan for 2013 is for Saigon Siren to be published in conjunction with the release of The Lion Tamers debut album, Lost Translation, which he is writing and recording in his Melton recording studio, Studio four99.
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If you like what you’ve seen so far, come back tomorrow for an extract of Tuan Ho’s fantastical short story, Reach for the Moon.