On June 9, two significant events happened in my life. First, I was elected to one of two seats on the Readfield Select Board in a contested four-way race with a 66 percent voter mandate. Second, I learned about the win in MaineGeneral’s ER.
I hoped I would win my election along with another candidate dedicated to good governance for our town. About 5 p.m., however, while working I collapsed with a grand mal seizure about which I have no memory. I vaguely recall first-responders assisting me in my first-ever ambulance ride. I was fortunate that my wife, Barbara, was home to secure emergency assistance in those frantic moments.
With no history of seizures, what followed were 10 days of blood tests, a CT scan, MRIs, doctor calls, EEG, neurology consults, spinal tap, medications and hospitalization. All signs indicated a tumor. My emotions revolved around fear and fate, since my father passed away many years ago of a brain tumor at an age not much older than mine.
Finally, I had a hastily arranged meeting with a Portland neurosurgeon. His experience led him to believe that I did not have a tumor but “venus sinus thrombosis,” a blood clot in my brain, which caused my seizure. He sent me to Maine Medical Center for another MRI to prove his clot theory.
On June 19, we found out the neurosurgeon was right. With great relief, biopsy or brain surgery was not going to be my next challenge. The clot will be dissolved gradually under the guidance of an Augusta specialty clinic. I can see the pathway back to good health over the next several months.
My appreciation is deep for the concern and support of friends, family, co-workers, the Readfield community, emergency responders, medical professionals, and especially my wife, who kept my spirits strong and outlook positive during the past weeks.
Fortunately, the journey was not without stress-relieving lighter moments, too. For instance, I received mail from the Secretary of State that I assumed contained some sort of congratulatory election certification. To the contrary, it contained a letter suspending my driver’s license pending a seizure-free period.
I know what I face and the steps to achieve good health in a relatively short time. But as I traveled this journey, I also discovered that many other people with great courage face steeper odds with more serious outcomes and less support under difficult financial stresses. There are also many people who unselfishly offer encouragement, volunteer support, or undertake challenging careers to help others.
Because of the examples set by all these people, I’ll try to serve others with greater aspiration to contribute in some small way to a challenge of Robert F. Kennedy’s I have always cherished: “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope … build(ing) a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
Bruce Bourgoine is the publisher and a part owner of Maine Lawyers Review. He has lived in Readfield for more than two decades and recently was elected to the town’s Select Board. In the past, he served two terms on the Maranacook School Board. He is a frequent commentator on Maine politics and enjoys climbing, hiking, and paddling in the Maine outdoors.