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  1. Stanley Fink
  1. Correspondence to Stanley Fink, stanley.fink{at}

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We were on a family vacation in Northern Botswana in July 2002, at an airstrip near Chobe National park and due to fly in a small single-engined Cessna to another park. My wife, Barbara, had disappeared and I could see my eldest son (Alex) rummaging through his luggage. I tried to tell him to gather his possessions as we had to board quickly but although the words were formed in my mind they would not come out. It was like playing the old amusement arcade game with a mechanical grabber that needed to be guided to pick up a toy and then guided to let it slip out. Although the words were formed in my brain, my brain would not let go to let me mouth the words.

I had an out of body experience looking down at the situation and trying to analyse what was going wrong (I am, by nature, a scientist even though I trained in law!) I saw Alex telling Barbara that Dad was playing a practical joke and pretending not to be able to speak. I saw Barbara asking the pilot to make a detour to a medical facility. I managed to utter, “Don't separate”.

We were airlifted to Johannesburg and a local GP diagnosed a ‘mini-stroke’. She gave an anticoagulant injection and we flew back to …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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