Garrison Keillor and his brush with mortality


Garrison Keillor, one of Minnesota's most-loved storytellers and host of "A Prairie Home Companion," had a brush with mortality and lived to tell the tale. The "nice 67 Y.O. male" as he describes himself (based on the notes by an ER doctor), thought he was still an edgy 20-something on the inside, but a minor stroke last week had him reconsidering our common humanity and the fragility of life.

From his column at Salon:

I stayed at St. Mary's for four days of tests and when I left, a neurologist shook my hand and said: "I hope you know how lucky you are."

You had intended to be a natural wonder, an old guy who still runs the high hurdles, but mortality has bitten you in the butt.

Keillor apparently drove himself to a St. Paul hospital (bad idea, folks! Call 911) where he was immediately admitted and then transferred down to Rochester for additional treatment.

He details his hospital stay: the attractive young ladies who cared for him, the IV drips, the gurney rides from one test to the next.

And that is a gift to the man who has been struck by a stroke: our common humanity... Two weeks ago, you were waltzing around feeling young and attractive, and now you are the object of Get Well cards and recipient of bouquets of carnations. Rich or poor, young or old, we all face the injustice of life -- it ends too soon, and statistical probability is no comfort.
It's a poignant and amazingly timed piece on his stroke and the future of the nation's health care. Couldn't sum it up well enough, so make sure you actually read it for yourself.