By Allen Steele: I was notified about Greg Benford’s stroke on Dec. 28, a few days after it happened, by Naomi Fisher, his close friend and now caregiver, who was with Greg when the stroke happened. Although most of the SF community has been kept in the dark about this, mainly to give Greg the distance he and Naomi both need during this time, I’ve been in constant touch with Naomi since the last days of December, and just last night I talked with Greg himself for an hour or so, the first time we’ve had a conversation since the stroke. So I’m in a position to clarify things a bit.
First: Greg is not dying. He’s actually doing much better than he was only last week, when he was still in the hospital. He has been transferred to a rehabilitation center — “hey, they finally sent me to rehab” was one of the first things he said to me; when I heard that, I knew he was getting better — and although it’s likely that he’ll be there for awhile, he’s a long, long way from where he was seven weeks ago when things really were dicey. Alcor isn’t getting his noggin yet.
Second: Greg is not incoherent, nor is he in any sort of daze or unable to understand what’s spoken to him. As I said, we spent an hour on the phone (thus saving me from America’s annual exercise in boredom that we call the Super Bowl) and although he’s still a bit hoarse from being intubated for a long time, I understood everything he said to me and he understood everything I said to him. He even got it when I commented that where he is now is at least better than being in Cleveland.
And third, Greg is in good hands. Naomi Fisher, whom I’ve also known for years and years, has been with Greg constantly. As I mentioned earlier, she is responsible for his survival; if Naomi hadn’t been downstairs when she heard him fall in the shower, Greg would have died then and there. The lady is a brick; she deserves no end of gratitude for him surviving what would have doubtless been a fatal medical emergency
While they’re grateful for the public concern and support, what Greg really wants and needs just now is breathing room, a chance to step away for a while and quietly heal. He’ll be back, folks; my friend is tough, and he’s not leaving us yet.
[Steele’s update, initially left as a comment on File 770’s report about the December 22 stroke, has been published as a post with his permission.]