N is for no

No is an important word. I wrote the following 122 words for a contest last year and decided to repurpose it for the challenge.

Men Know Your Wedding Anniversary 

Communication moved slow post-stoke for my late husband Jimmy and me. A stroke left him mute and paralyzed.

Doctors suggested he blink twice for yes and once for no.

While still in the ICU hooked up to a ventilator and other equipment, I asked him questions to see if he was there.

“Is our wedding anniversary May 20?” Jimmy blinked once for no.

“Is it June 12?” He answered yes.

“Is your birthday June 24?” I asked.

He blinked twice.

He correctly answered each one. His answers changed my outlook on his medical condition. 

Months later we discussed those questions. By that time, letters were mixed with blinks, so Jimmy could spell out a message.

He spelled:  “Yes. Lucky to answer right.”


Looking back, it was naïve to have hinged my thoughts, feelings and his medical direction on the answer to those questions. The stroke made Jimmy appear to be in a vegetative state. It was unclear for weeks, if he had brain damage. 

The nurses told me he communicated with them, but my attempts prior to this day failed. Plus, the nurses always told me “Jimmy wanted to watch football” to explain the TV showing a college game. I thought the nurses were making stuff up, because Jimmy did not watch football. 

Of course, the hum, beeps and hisses in an ICU might drive any non-football fan to watch the game.