By Robert Treynor
January 13, 2014
In 2007, “Clint” of Chicago, Illinois, was atop his profession. He was an elite architect in charge of 40 people designing a $150 million building complex in a Midwestern city. For privacy reasons, he chose for this column to have a pseudonym.
“But that year, I developed a fit of very deep depression, was having severe stomach pain, and wanted to kill myself,” said 53-year-old Clint. “When deciding that driving my car into a bridge abutment wasn’t what I wanted, I drove instead to the hospital.” Clint was facing intense job stress working 80-hour weeks and personal financial pressures beyond his ability to endure.
At the hospital, while addressing his stomach pain, doctors found a cancerous tumor on his kidney. A surgeon successfully removed it, but could not remove the stress, which would multiply over time.
“By January 2012, I was on the verge of total hopelessness. I had nowhere to turn. I was at the absolute depths of despair and worry. My dad had just passed away, too,” he said.
One morning that exceptionally stressful month, Clint awoke to being completely blind, didn’t know why, and was terrified. His wife drove him to the local hospital. His blood pressure was 250/210.
“My wife says they helped me onto a gurney and I was only there a few minutes when I looked at the ceiling, arched my back, and started having a grand mal seizure in which my whole body convulsed. I had seven, one after the other,” said Clint.
Afterward, Clint was in such poor physical condition doctors put him on life support. Before he regained consciousness, they were discussing with his wife the possibility of pulling the plug. Almost immediately, he began having wild hallucinations, and still has them off and on to a lesser extent. Doctors have no clue what happened or what has been happening. It definitely wasn’t a stroke.
Today, Clint can’t drive because of the occasional hallucinations, and has psoriatic arthritis, daily panic attacks, and trouble drawing anything let alone architectural drawings. He is on government assistance.
Through everything, he remains upbeat: “Somehow out of this I developed a closeness with God, which helps calm me. I’ve also realized since I’ve slowed down how much my wife and children mean to me. I treasure every bit of time we have and that has grown our family into a close unit.”