The Story of Nancy
Twenty-three years ago, my wife and I were living the Life of Riley. Kids out of college, mortgage nearly paid off, no outstanding bills. Life was great. Then, literally overnight, our lives
were unalterably changed forever.
We were returning from a visit to a friend's house late one Wednesday evening. I parked in our driveway, came around to help my wife out of the car, and she remarked she was dizzy and
had trouble walking into the house. Naturally she was a bit frightened, but it was quite late so I told her we should go to bed. If things were no better when we got up in the morning, we would go to the
hospital near our home and have things checked out.
When we got up Thursday morning, she was not really much better, so we had a little bite to eat, then got into the car and drove the three miles to the hospital. I parked in the emergency
room parking area, and, as I had the night before, got out of the car and came around to get my wife out. We started to walk the 50 or so feet from the car to the ER entrance when she simply collapsed
into my arms. I literally dragged her the remaining distance into the ER.
Everyone could see she was in bad shape, so they took her directly into the main ER treatment area while I filled out the forms, insurance and everything else. They Immediately began
to test her to see if they could determine what was wrong, but nothing certain showed up on any of their tests. She was admitted into the hospital, and would undergo further testing.
A few days later, while we were visiting together in her hospital room, I noticed her right hand begin to curl into a fist, and her speech became slightly slurred. She was having a stroke.
And over the course of the next few days, she would have several more strokes, 5 in all, involving the blockage of major arteries on both sides of her brain. It was rather "touch and go" for a
few days, and survival rates for multiple strokes are gloomy. She was in such a bad way I stayed over at the hospital because, to tell the truth, I was not sure she would make it through some of those
I recall once, when things were really going badly, I prayed my heart out. "Lord", I said, "if you let her live, I will see to it that she has everything she wants from
here on, and I will do everything I can to make the rest of her life as peaceful, happy, content, and fulfilling as is humanly possible." The Lord was listening, and thankfully Nancy survived. So I
set upon keeping my promise.
Given the choice of doing anything she wants to do, Nancy likes most to travel. And that is how it has come to pass since that time to this, we have traveled the world, been on all 7
continents, and in more countries than I can name without a World Atlas.
Before we could do any of that, however, there was much work to be done, as she was severely limited in all respects, and far from "normal".
What could I do to rehabilitate Nancy to the point where she could live a "normal" if obviously modified life. How could I rebuild her brain? She had been left with the thinking
and reasoning ability of a three-year-old child, so we had to start from scratch. I took courses in how people learn and discovered each of us has a preferred way to have information input to our brain.
Some people learn best by listening, for example. Nancy has always been a very visual person. She learns best by watching, so I decided using a computer would be the best way to rebuild her brain.
First, I had to determine what she still knew, and what she no longer knew. What were the gaps in her understanding? the idea struck me that the TV show Jeopardy tests a broad
range of human knowledge. I went shopping through software catalogs and found a Jeopardy game to play on the computer. It had everything the TV show had except Alex Trebeck. Problem was that like it is
on the TV show, there is a time limit allowed for answering. The time limit on the computer version was 15 seconds, far to little time for Nancy. She simply could not function at that speed.
I called up the GAMECO company, producers of the computer game, and explained my situation to whoever answered the phone. Then I asked to speak to the person who had programmed the software.
They connected me with the programmer and I explained to him what I was trying to do. I told him Nancy could not process information at the speed he had set up. Was it possible, I wanted to know, to change
the clock on the software so she could have unlimited time to respond? This was long before the days of current sophistication, and programs were non-existent or crude at best. "No", he responded, "the
clock is an integral part of the program. But what I can do is send you a series of programs where the time clock is set for 30 seconds, 60 seconds, etc., and you can change programs as she gets faster
That solved the problem completely.
Perhaps 3 or 4 weeks after the programmer sent me the new software, the CEO of Gameco called me. He told me what I had suggested, using their Jeopardy program to rehabilitate injured
or broken brains, opened all sorts of commercial possibilities for Gameco. "Would you sell us your idea, doctor"? "No", I told him, "but I will do this for you- if you are willing.
The idea is yours for nothing. But if someone with an injured brain needs such a program but can't afford it, you'll give it to them for nothing." He agreed. We had a deal. With the reconfigured Jeopardy
program, I was able to pinpoint specific areas of knowledge which had been deleted from Nancy's memory banks.
I was running through the mountain trails where we live one day- thinking about Nancy lying in bed, asleep, at home. I realized it was time to pray again. "Lord, I'm in over my
head and could sure use some guidance. Where should I turn next to help her"? Are you familiar with the words from the Sermon on the Mount, "Seek and ye shall find. Ask and ye shall receive.
Knock and it shall be opened unto you"?