What Happened???


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



26 thoughts on “What Happened???

  1. How about laughing AND singing! I hear good things about singing therapy (and it’s fun)! Love to both of you. XOXO ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♪♫ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♪♫ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪


  2. MAry, Went to Mass this morning with Deb George, her sister and husband and lit a candle for Jerry’s fast recovery. prayers and good wishes. keep me posted.
    Mary Hanson

  3. Dear, dear Mary. I know how your heart beats fast, how you stare at him knowing that this too will go away, how if he moves at night you jump up. Mary, you and Jerry are two of the strongest people I know. Just know that you have many friends. Sometimes a big cry helps. Know that I am here.

  4. How about laughing AND singing! I’ve heard great things about singing therapy (and it’s fun, too)!


    Sending love to you both,
    XOXO ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♪♫ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♪♫ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪

  5. Oh Mary what can I say i love you both I am praying but find it a bit hard you and Jerry have had more than your share and it does not seem fair. I will be back about August 24 make a list of things I can do for you Please xoxoxoxo Paula

    Sent from my iPhone


  6. My dear friend, we wish a speedy recovery for Jerry . You both are in our prayers

  7. Deirdre Christman

    I can believe it’s harder to be a caregiver than a care receiver. The fact that you’re writing the blog, though, is a good sign. You’re processing. I’ll be over tomorrow with dinner and anything you want from the store. Just let me know what time. Love to you both.

  8. Hi Mary,

    So sorry to hear about Jerry! We never know from minute to minute what is in store for us, it’s so scary! However, it sounds like he has made some excellent spontaneous recovery with regard to his language so that’s a really good thing – usually means the prognosis is good! Thank goodness he has no motor impairments to make it twice as difficult for you both. I had a chance to work with stroke patients at Mercy at the beginning of my SLP career so I know how frustrating it is for those who lose their language skills and the caregivers who try to communicate with them. There were four areas that we assessed and then treated if needed – written expression, reading comprehension, auditory comprehension, and verbal expression. It sounds like the verbal expression is definitely impaired, hopefully the other areas are intact. Speech therapy works so have faith!!!! Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you remotely with regard to the language “stuff”. My thoughts and prayers are with you, Jerry, and the rest of the family. xoxox


    Sent from my iPad


  9. Winging many prayers and positive thoughts your way. You know the rules…one day at a time. Susan

  10. Wow what well informed and helpful friends you have! The singing therapy sounds amazing.
    You are musical Mary. Jerry couldn’t have a better advocate. As always I am in awe of your strength. I only wish I could give you a big hug. Take care of yourself. Love to you both.

  11. Love and healing prayers for Jerry and calm for you, Mary.

  12. HOLY COW!!! You just never know. I am praying for you both and know all will turn out well. Thank God we are educated to know the signs of a stroke. See you in the sand.

    xoxo Elin

  13. Trevina has been so kind to keep me informed and prayers have been going up nonstop. Glad to hear that Kate is being cared for so well. Special prayers for you too. This too shall pass and you’ll both do well. Love,Judy

    Sent from my iPad


  14. If I can do it, YOU can do it!!!!

  15. You r right about easier to be given care than be a care giver. But if anyone can do it…YOU CAN,,, one day at a time. Do yoga too. You both will laugh about this in a while. Love u. Jo

  16. Gladys Lazarcheck

    Dearest Mary,
    I am so sorry to hear of your husband’s stroke. The Lord knows you don’t need this, but I am so glad everyone is helping you. Please let me know if I can do anything as well. You are a very strong woman and I know you both will come through this together as you said out of this tunnel laughing!!
    I miss you. Take care.


  17. Amazing how you knew that Jerry’s garbled speech was a sign of stroke. My Billie is such a prankster (not too different from his dear friend, Jerry), I would have thought he was being his ridiculous self, trying to freak me out. I wish we were able to lend our support nearby, but knowing the strength of your community of friends, I know you both will come out of this stronger and with your sense of humor in-tack, especially realizing you have the amazing capacity to translate garbled language, much like a mother or teacher understands the language of her little ones, even if no one else has a clue. Please know we send our love and a constant stream of well wishes for you both.

  18. Mary, sooo good that you had your Europe fun and trip to MA and Lana’s visit before Jerry’s problem indeed!
    You are both strong people and with your help, he will get thru this! Do rely on your family and friends…they want to be there for you…me included!

  19. Mary,
    I hold you, Jerry, your household in my loving thoughts and prayer. Keep on writing as a way of being with what is and allowing your friends to be present to you. Love, Natalie

  20. Would love to be a part of the singing therapy. Just say the word and we will arrange for a special sing-along! Meanwhile, keep on keeping on as only you know how to do so well.

  21. How serendipitous…Diane Rehm is discussing music therapy for the brain! I too would love to be a part of this. Would certainly involve lots of laughs which we all could use right now. We’ll talk..or sing!
    Also put me on the dinner list…how does Friday sound? Let me know a good delivery time. Love to you both!

  22. Mary and Jerry. Many prayers and healing thoughts on their way to you. I truly believe Jerry will do very well with your love and guidance. And thanks for the description of how it happened. I made Lou sit down and listen. Very important for all of us to be aware for ourselves and for others. I wish you peace.

  23. Mary, my dear frined. Thanks for keeping us posted. We are thinking of you and sending hugs, prayers, positive vibes and lots of love. Take good care of yourself, please. I know you will embark on this journey with faith ,determination and strength, like you have in the past. Love , Mari H


  24. Mary,
    Healing and happy thoughts and prayers to you and Jerry.
    Carol Malott

  25. Wendie Highsmith

    Mary-OMG! Beyond glad you caught this! And what a difference it is making.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you!!

    Love, Wendie

  26. I am so very sorry. Sending prayers and positive thoughts your way. Please add Lee and I to your list of willing helpers.

    Sent from my iPad


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