A View From The Floor - Authors light-hearted look at his stroke and near death experience. He said he experienced a pleasant near death experience that may explain the smile on his face almost a dozen years later.
Author Riley Jackson just released a new book, "A View From The Floor", an honest, but also light-hearted, take on his stroke in Costa Rica leaving his left side paralyzed. He is pictured with Duchess, his basset hound, in his backyard garden.
October 29, 2011 [westseattleherald.com] - "It was beautiful," he recalled. "Somehow I managed to yell for the guys outside and they put me in my bed. Next thing I know my soul is outside my house at roof level. I watched my friend in the taxi arrive first. Right behind him comes my ambulance, a Toyota jeep with a tin cage in the back, for dead bodies or live bodies, it didn't matter. When they pulled the gurney out I was back in my body.
Excerpts from article -
Read full article here- New book "A View From The Floor", a light-hearted look at local author's stroke. By Steve Shay.
While the trauma suffered by stroke victim Riley Jackson is not contagious, some may find his smile and carefree attitude toward it transmittable. And although Jackson, 75, a West Seattle resident with a home perched above the Fauntleroy Ferry, lives alone, you might say his house is filled, with Duchess, his forever-drooling white basset hound. Keeping them company are colorful free-range chickens that meander into the backyard garden from a neighbor's yard.
Jackson has authored a newly-released book about his ordeal, "A View From The Floor", a 264-page paperback by West Seattle's Tigress Publishing. The story centers on his third stroke, a doozy, causing him to pass out on his kitchen floor in his house on his 10-acre coffee plantation in Costa Rica, an idyllic high altitude spot with a view of the Pacific Ocean, but not, shall we say, across the street from Harborview Medical Center. It took eight hours to reach the emergency room there. It was March 27, 1997.
When he collapsed, then regained consciousness, his "view from the floor" was a Kafkaesque experience.
"This cockroach was coming toward me, like you see on the image of my book cover (by world-class illustrator Steve Montiglio)," said Jackson. "In my mind it was four feet wide and going to eat me."
According to his book, he exhaled on the insect with his vile morning breath and it scurried away. That nightmare yielded to euphoria once his neighbors finally arrived with a taxi driver and ambulance. He said he experienced a pleasant out of body experience that may explain the smile on his face almost a dozen years later.
"It was beautiful," he recalled. "Somehow I managed to yell for the guys outside and they put me in my bed. Next thing I know my soul is outside my house at roof level. I watched my friend in the taxi arrive first. Right behind him comes my ambulance, a Toyota jeep with a tin cage in the back, for dead bodies or live bodies, it didn't matter. When they pulled the gurney out I was back in my body.
"First you are warm, and then I had this overwhelming feeling of peace and love, love like you've never known before," he said. "It was phenomenal. Now I'm not afraid to die. I don't want to die but Im not afraid of it."
He still visits Costa Rica.
"Down there when I talk to my Costa Rican friends about my out of body experience, they really listen," he said. "They are almost accult-like, and are very interested.
"A lot of times Americans don't want to be bothered with this," he observed. "They've got a meeting to go to, or McDonalds has a new special. They've got to get their McRibs. I say, 'OK. Have a good life. I want to share something with you that I know is important and if you're not open to that, OK."
He also said that many are not interested in talking about getting a stroke.
"People don't like talking about it, but when you consider almost 800,000 people in America every year have a stroke it's something you cannot hide much longer," he said. "And 200,000 die right off the bat. People don't want to get too deep about anything.
"My left side was paralyzed," he said. It still is. "I spent almost 10 years in a wheelchair. The therapist in the VA felt that threats were better than (gentle) persuasion. This is freedom. I'm sitting here looking at some beautiful leaves turning color in the trees and to me that's what life's all about. I just take my party with me. Whether your left side doesn't work, like with me, or you have other health problems, stop concentrating on the pain, concentrate on the beauty."
Jackson's injects optimism in his book. For instance, he writes, "Another benefit of having a stroke…A stroke has the effect of peeling away years of socialization. You are given the chance to return to a more childlike state where emotions are felt more deeply, and occur quite rapidly. The filters of learned behavior are gone; you cry when you are sad and laugh when you are tickled."
Jackson gives his late parents, Mary Ann, who recently passed away at 96, and father, Virgil, much credit for his will to get out of that wheel chair and be kind-natured.
"My father was a great coach," he said. "In high school he coached Bob Mathias, the Olympic decathlete."
According to ESPN.com, "At Tulare High School, the muscular Mathias played basketball four years(...) was an outstanding fullback for three years, and won some 40 first places in track, including being the California Interscholastic Federation discus and shot put champion in 1947. The next spring, Virgil Jackson, Tulare's track coach, suggested that Mathias (...) try the decathlon in the Southern Pacific AAU Games in Los Angeles. Mathias agreed, even though he had only three weeks to prepare for the event and had never competed in the pole vault, long jump, javelin or 1,500-meter run."
After joining the Army during the Korean War and being sent instead to Eritrea, then in Ethiopia, to decode Russian telegraph messages, he studied at University of California, Santa Barbara, where he graduated in 1968.
"My first experience with the computer is I broke the one at the college," he boasted. "It was a teachable moment for IBM, not for me. My computer cards (punch cards) for their IBM System/360 mainframe computer brought the whole damn thing down. I'm so proud of that I can't stand it. I'm a Mac guy. I write most every day. It takes a while using just one hand."
"A View From The Floor" on [Amazon].