Bay to Breakers 1991

(Mostly not about language.)

When the Bay to Breakers race in San Francisco (a race/walk from the Embarcadero to Ocean Beach, with lots and lots of costumes) came by a few months ago, I meant to post a photo of my man Jacques and me finishing the race in 1991 — an occasion that was both delightful and scary — but technical problems stood in the way. Now here’s the photo, and after it a bit of the story.

I’m #39497, the shorter, bearded one; J is #39262. (Lots of male friends have asked, hopefully, about the guy between us, but he was just an accident of the race lineup.)

In J’s brief medical history, this event appears as:

May 1991, brief transient ischemic attack: loss of muscular control on left side, difficulty speaking; passed away within an hour, with no recollection of previous events

and in my posting on TIAs (transient ischemic attacks), I gave

the story of J’s first TIA — well, the first one anyone observed — on May 19, 1991, during a Bay to Breakers that J and I walked in San Francisco, on an unusually hot day, where the heat, the exertion, and his reluctance to drink water combined to make him dehydrated. Add that to the slowing of blood flow due to radiation damage, and you’ve got a set-up for a TIA.

That’s the middle of the story, and in the photo you can’t tell from J’s smile that anything was wrong. In fact, most of the B2B was just a delight — until J suddenly ran down and had to support his left side on my shoulder so that I could drag him along towards the finish. People stopped to offer help, but J, determined to make it to the end, waved them off (while I, able to talk just fine, apologetically explained that he wanted to make it on his own). And so we limped along until the finish line was in sight, at which point J summoned up strength from some reserve and walked on his own over the line, triumphantly.

Then we limped on to Kezar Stadium, where I parked J on a bench in the shade and went to get him water, which I insisted he drink. Ten or so minutes afterward he came back to life, and we strolled to catch the bus back to Palo Alto. Where we had lunch with Elizabeth (Daingerfield Zwicky). Over lunch I gave a capsule account of the B2B, including J’s difficulties — which he hotly denied had ever happened, accusing me of inexplicably making up malicious stories about him. I didn’t press things, but held the story in my worried heart.

My earlier TIA posting has an account of a much more dramatic TIA in 1993. The B2B event in 1991 was in fact the advance warning of the Terrible Times to come. (J died in June 2003.)


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