I thought I’d be writing a post on my trip to Maasachusetts…something about seeing Katie who’s in a beautiful Hospice House for her last days, something about seeing Smiley, that amazing high school teacher who still shines with peace and love, something about visiting Dad and Annette who are finding daily life harder and harder or something about my mom who thought I was her sister and kept reminding me that even if I was older, she was still smarter.
And I thought I’d write about my trip to Keys with ten year old, Lana, about visit to the turtle hospital and snorkeling on the reefs, about what an incredibly amazing swimmer she is and how I need to get in shape of I’m going snorkeling again. Oh my, the reefs and the life they contained were gorgeous.
Instead I need to write about Jerry. We were lucky. It could have happened in Europe last month. It could have happened when I was in Massachusetts or the Keys. Instead, Jerry had a stroke less than 24 hours after Lana and I got home from our trip. Lana and I came in from turtle 9:00 on Saturday morning and Jerry was having a cup of coffee and playing a card game on the computer. Looked perfectly fine until he tried to talk. Garbled, making no sense at all.
Say one coherent sentence or I’m calling 911, I said, heading for the phone.
More garbled stuff that probably meant “I’m perfectly fine.”
I picked up the phone while he said “no, no”
Honey, sit down, I said. You’ve had a stroke.
Damn. He kept following me around while I talked to the dispatcher.
Sit down, I demanded.
He sat and the ambulance was there in minutes.
EMTs arrived and Jerry headed to the hospital. God bless,Martha, who dropped everything to come and stay with Lana and later take her to the airport and send her off on her first solo plane ride home. I honestly don’t know how long it was before I arrived at the hospital but when I got there they had already done the CT scan, he had been evaluated by a neurologist and they were in the process of admitting him.
Stroke hit left side of the brain…major language deficits but absolutely no motor impairment.
I’ll make the rest of the story short. He came home Monday afternoon. We start speech therapy tomorrow. He’s already made progress. He can tell you his full name, his kids’ names, my name, the days of the week, maths of the year, count and sometimes actually comes out with a full coherent phrase or sentence. Of course, an hour later he might not be able to do any of these things but still considering that he couldn’t even tell you his first name on Saturday morning, he’s done well.
And I’m getting better too. I was a major mess. Jerry wasn’t aware there was anything wrong with him but I was very aware there was something wrong with me. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I could feel the tension in my chest and in my throat. I did a lot of slow breathing ..still do…but I’m still wound a bit too tight. (A bit?) And I am so aware that caregivers need to take care of themselves. Heaven knows I’ve said it to enough people including Jerry when he took such good care of me for seven months. It is definitely is easier to be the sick one. Caregiving is exhausting and far more frightening.
The kids have been worried about me and are coming …I told them to wait a bit till I start to run out of energy. And not to worry…if it got to be too much for me, I’d leave their dad at the door to the hospital with their names and phone numbers pinned to his shirt. Erin said to make sure I put Sean’s name on top.
So we are living a pretty quiet life…doctor’s appointments, as much work on speech as he’s willing to do (okay, I driving him nuts asking him to name everything) floating and exercising in the pool and napping. Right now I can’t leave him alone and the neurologist said he shouldnt have company for a couple weeks..too tiring and stressful…but we’re lucky…plenty of people to run errands, give advice, drop off food and books and magazines. We’re going to make it through this…but oh my, it is so quiet around here.
So, my friends, send prayers and positive energy…pray that I’ll have the sense to ask for help when I need it, that we’ll both continue to see the humor in this, that we’ll both stay patient and hopeful even if progress is slow, that I don’t push too hard or too little, that we come out of this particular tunnel laughing.
Love to all