Tag Archives: stroke

Another worry

Things are calming down to a quiet roar in Pinklea-land. My mother continues to progress well and it looks like she’ll be released from the hospital this week, possibly Wednesday. We’ll find out for sure tomorrow, I think. She was able to come home for a visit on the weekend, just to see how she would manage with a walker in her own home. While she was happily ensconced in front of her own big screen HD TV, watching golf and chowing down on an Uncle-burger from A&W, my brother and sister-in-law phoned her and that perked her up even more.

Today is Mom’s 82nd birthday, and although it’s not exactly wonderful to celebrate one’s birthday in the hospital, DD and I still tried to make it fun for her. We brought her cards and a small gift and mini cupcakes, complete with a burning candle for her to blow out. We even sang “happy birthday” to her. I think she liked that we made a bit of a fuss over her birthday – who wouldn’t? A number of my aunts and uncles emailed me to convey their best wishes to her for a happy birthday and a speedy recovery, which of course I did.

So with Mom on the mend and things now humming along reasonably well in that area of my life, naturally I have a new worry.

I need to renew my passport. This means the dreaded passport photo, a.k.a. the how-awful-can-a-person-possibly-look picture, this year complete with the extra horror of “What do you MEAN I have to brush my fringe off my face?! I ALWAYS have my fringe hanging down almost to my eyebrows! I CAN’T brush my fringe completely off my face and look anything like me, never mind a sentient human creature! My hair just doesn’t DO that! I just CAN’T!!! N – O – O – O!!!

Pray for me. Please.

Energy flagging …

How do people do this? How do they work and take care of their homes and families and deal with a parent in the hospital? I’m wearing down, and it’s only been six days and I’m on Spring Break and not even working right now.

I feel like there’s a lot of pressure, lots of responsibility on me. I guess there is, but I also think I may put it there myself. I’m trying to be a “good daughter”, and I know my mom appreciates that I’m there every day. After all, she was my role model when my dad had his first stroke: she was at his bedside every day. I am assuming that she expects that of me, but maybe she doesn’t. She has encouraged me to do what I need to do, be it go to the hairdresser, to PG’s place to watch a hockey game, or simply sleep in till noon. She has said that she doesn’t need me to be there all the time.

I mean, she’s pretty busy herself. She’s got two therapy sessions a day, which tire her out, so she’s resting a fair bit. She’s working hard at regaining as much mobility as she can so that she can go home. In addition, it takes her a long time to get to and then use the bathroom. She’s also got books to read, word search puzzles to do, TV programs to watch. There’s three square meals a day for her to eat. It’s not like she’s sitting there pining for visitors all day long.

But I feel like I need to be there every day, for myself. I need to know what’s going on, how Mom is doing, what progress she’s made. I need information. It’s hard for me to deal if I don’t know much about a situation. Plus, I am the go-to person for everyone in our extended family. I have spent hours on the phone with aunts, uncles and cousins, and have given my phone number to everyone if they have any questions. I have emailed and texted my brother, sister-in-law, DD, PG, and few other close friends pretty much non-stop since this all began last Thursday.

I suppose I have been running on adrenaline since Thursday. And now I am tired. Even Mom told me I looked tired today. I am sleeping well at night, but I guess I need even more. And what I really crave right now is time alone, just for me, without any pressing issues to take care of.

So I am going out for lunch with my gal pals tomorrow. We will eat and drink and laugh and I will feel loved and supported in the way that only my good friends can do.

And then I will carry on.

Reality check

My phone rang at 6:30 on Thursday morning. It was my mother – my mother who rarely phones me, never mind that early in the morning. I knew something was wrong immediately.

Her voice was weak and quavery. She said she’d fallen on her way to the bathroom. She said her left leg and hand were numb and tingly. She asked me to come over.

She doesn’t live far. I was there in fifteen minutes, heart pounding all the way. I cannot begin to describe the terror I was feeling.

Mom was laying on her bed, on her side. She looked awful, pale and ill. I held her, she repeated what she’d told me on the phone, her voice a little stronger now that she wasn’t alone any more.

I called 911. I told the operator that I suspected a stroke. I gave her Mom’s address, and she assured me that help was on the way. She had me ask Mom to smile, which Mom did with both sides of her mouth even. She had me ask Mom to raise both arms above her head, which again, Mom did with both arms even. She had me ask Mom to say “The early bird catches the worm”, which Mom did, articulating clearly if weakly. I already knew that those are the three quickest ways to determine whether or not a serious stroke has occurred, so I started feeling a bit less scared.

The paramedics arrived. I set out all Mom’s medications and her medical card for them to note for their paperwork. They asked her a few questions, had her do the same things that the 911 operator had had me get her to do. They checked all her vital signs. They reassured her – and me. They brought the stretcher close, but she still had to be practically carried the four or five steps to get to it. Her left leg was not lifting off the ground. She was so weak. They took her to the nearest hospital. I followed in my car.

We waited two hours in the hallway before being taken into the emergency ward. Mom had to go to the bathroom during that time. Again, the paramedics had to almost carry her because that left leg was so unstable. That exhausted her again.

Finally in a bed in emergency, she was hooked up to monitors and the colour started to come back to her face. The feeling came back into her hand. She was able to move her left leg while lying down, but she still was unable to support herself enough to walk. The emergency doctor checked her over and mentioned that her heart rate was fluctuating erratically, a condition known as atrial fibrillation. I googled it immediately. It’s quite common in the middle-aged and elderly, is quite treatable, and people with it are more prone to strokes.

The internist arrived at 4:30 pm. He too noticed the atrial fibrillation. His preliminary diagnosis was a small stroke, possibly due to that. He ordered more tests: CT scan, ultrasound, ECG. He checked Mom’s leg strength. I thought it was stronger than before.

Mom spent the night in the emergency ward. I spent the night at home, waking up every couple of hours.

Back at the hospital the next day, Friday, Mom’s own GP visited her. She said that the atrial fibrillation was new for Mom, but that it was definitely treatable. She reassured Mom that after a few days there for further testing, observation, and a bit of physical therapy, she would get Mom a walker and she could almost certainly go home and continue to live independently. I relaxed a bit more then.

Mom finally got moved to a bed in one of the hospital wards at about 5 pm. I helped settle her in, put all the things I’d brought for her away in the cupboard beside her bed. I ordered her TV service so that she could watch the curling tournament that she was upset about missing. She started reading one of the magazines I’d brought her. She looked healthy and relaxed. Just before I left for the night, the nurse brought her a walker, showed her how to use it, then took her down the hallway to try it out. She was walking immeasurably better than I’d seen yet, lifting her leg properly and moving smoothly. I exhaled in relief.

I think she’s going to be okay.