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From Times Square to God only knows where

Hundreds of thousands of people watched the ball drop in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. It is said to be one of the biggest parties of the year. Yet, I have trouble trying to relate to attending an event that involves so many people not to be able to leave the area after 3 p.m., even to go to the bathroom. However, I relate to the excitement and energy, which seemed to symbolize a year of closure of turmoil and tragedies and open up to a new year of hope for a better future in spite of newer tragedies in other parts of the United States and abroad.

In 2005 we witnessed hurricanes, floods, mudslides and other disasters destroying homes and producing casualties. On New Year’s Day, the destruction continued when parts of California experienced torrential rain producing floods that took residents by surprise, while Nevada experienced worse conditions with floods and mudslides. People once more were seen on TV being rescued from homes and flooded cars by boats; residents said that they had no time to grab Christmas presents and valuables.

The situation in California caused Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to declare a state of emergency in seven counties.

In Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico there was a different kind of tragedy, where residents would have welcomed the rain. Some of these areas were reported as experiencing a drought that caused wild fires to spread across many cities, destroying homes, property and a few lives with massive flames. But for every tragedy, there is always a blessing taking place somewhere else.

The blessing I’m speaking of is the appearance of Dick Clark, on his Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rocking Eve Show, for the first time since his stroke in 2004. We welcomed the show in 2005, but he was not there. Many, myself included, were teens when he was the host of the American Bandstand show in the 50s and 60s and still look up to him as the world’s oldest teenager.

His voice was deep and his speech was slurred, but reporters on ABC Channel 13 News said that he was brave to let the public see him in this way. Clark is also a diabetic and his condition and appearance will cause many who have similar health conditions to pay more attention to their health. It will also cause many talk shows to call on physicians to educate the public on causes and the prevention of strokes, which will save many lives.

The education began with Katie Couric on the NBC Channel 10 Today Show on Monday morning.

Couric interviewed Dr. Orien Davinsky, a professor of neurology at New York University Medical School, on a segment of the show called, Inspiring Hope After a Stroke. Davinsky is not Clark’s physician, but is well versed on the subject of strokes. He said that Clark probably suffered the stroke in his language-dominant hemisphere (which is always the most difficult one) that affected his ability to walk and to talk. His diabetes also made the stroke a bigger factor.

Davinsky said that 80 percent of strokes could be preventable by doing the following – the biggest causes of strokes: stop smoking, control your blood pressure and monitor your diabetes.

He said that strokes are common causes of death in this country, but are very treatable if people will pay attention to the following sudden changes: a change in the ability to speak, numbness or weakness especially in one part of the body, unsteadiness and imbalance, a very severe headache that comes on suddenly, and a sudden change in thinking. If any of these sudden changes happen to you, you should get to the hospital as soon as possible, because there are drugs that can be administered intravenously that may help to dissolve a clot and restore function, where as if not given, you may end up with a permanent disability.

We in the Hampton Roads area have been blessed not to have seen destructive weather in 2005; but when we say Happy New Year, ring out the old year and ring in the new, whether pertaining to the weather or our health, we are only saying that we hope that our fate in 2006 will have good things outweighing the bad, and that 2006 will be one of the happiest years that we have ever had.

We have now experienced Times Square; now it is up to that fate to take us to only God knows where.

Wall is a former News-Herald reporter and is a regular contributor to this section.