Tuesday, January 06, 2015

A Stroke of Bad News

We were out of town for New Year's, visiting Amy's family. I called Dad to wish him a happy new year on the 1st, and he just did not sound right. I called Alan, and he went over there. He found Dad with a skinned, bloodied nose and a bad gash on the inside of his left arm below the elbow. He cleaned him up and had him sit on the edge of the bed to have him change shirts. After he did, he laid back on the bed, exhausted, and said he just had to lie down for a bit.

We were all four there the next day, and Dad sat in his chair and slept the whole time. He opened his eyes and smiled, but said nothing. I'm not sure he ever went to the bathroom. The guys swapped out his recliner for the one my fake grandma gave us that lifts a person get up and out.  Alan took this picture. My dad never goes unshaven. It's not event the terrible scab that gets me about this photo. It's the measure of bewilderment in his eyes. My dad was always quick-witted, clear-headed, and certain, so this physically hurts me.

By late afternoon, we all realized he had to go to the ER. They helped him to Alan's car, and I rode in back to keep an eye on him. I remembered to grab the handicap placard out of Dad's truck first.

Because of the stroke symptoms, he was seen immediately. A CT scan revealed older strokes and some plaquing. He would have to stay the night for observation and more tests. We left about 10:30, and Alan stayed until 11, letting us know the room number before he went home.

The MRI showed evidence of a recent stroke, which made sense of the exhaustion and terribly slurred speech. He was cranky about having to be there and wasn't afraid to let us know.

He ended up at Sacred Heart until today. It was the most heart-wrenching conversation, but after many tears and prayers, Ryan and the PT were able to get Dad to the place where he was compliant. Dad's actually the one who opened the door when he said, "I don't want to burden anyone." They told him it would be a burden on Wayneen and me because we'd have to stay with him 24/7 if he went home. There was a look of resignation on his face when he said to that, "I'll do whatever they say." The PT emphasized that it'd only be for 7-14 days of rehab to get him strong enough to go home and get around safely.

The timing of losing his hearing right at this time is rotten. It makes communicating so much more difficult, and I think it leaves him feeling a greater sense of confusion and helplessness.  When we got to the nursing facility, he was still on the gurney when he looked at me and said, "Sure wish I knew where we are."  That's when I started using the speech to text feature on my smart phone. I held it up so he could read it. I wrote, "This is the rehab place where you'll get stronger so you can go home."  He wanly smiled like "Whatever."

As I said goodbye tonight, I told him I was going home to get some rest and to love on Ladybug. I would be right back in the morning.

Help me, Lord. This is completely new ground for me. I trust You to hold us tenderly and to lead us through this haze. Protect my sweet dad. Comfort him with Your felt presence.