I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, August 16, 2020

The Magic Shoes

SG's rainbow Crocs
Well, not long after I finished last week's post, SG went outside to talk on his cellphone to a friend, something he does once a month or so, and I thought nothing of it. He was wearing these shoes when he came back inside and said something to me. I couldn't understand him. It was unintelligible. Uh-oh, I thought: this isn't right. He grabbed our whiteboard and wrote, "Difficulty talking." I asked him to raise both arms, and he did, but his left one didn't come all the way up. "I'm taking you to the hospital to see what's wrong," I said. When he didn't object, I knew we were in trouble. I drove him carefully the ten minutes to the hospital while he sat in the seat next to me, using the whiteboard to "talk."

When I drove up to the emergency room door, I rushed out to tell someone that I thought my husband was having a stroke. Almost immediately, he was whisked away in a wheelchair and the attendant asked me to park my car and then come back, which I did. My temperature was taken and I was asked a few questions before finding out where he was. When I walked into the room, he was surrounded by five or six people who were doing various things, and a nurse told me he was being taken for a CT scan to see if they could identify a bleed. He was lying there with his head back, eyes closed, and the shoes sticking out from under the bed. I was afraid until the doctor reassured me. He was still unable to say anything understandable, but he could almost form words, and I was relieved that he didn't seem any worse.

I learned that they were working quickly to determine whether or not to give him a dose of Alteplase, a drug that dissolves an ischemic stroke blood clot. I was asked when this all began, and I told them it was only an hour ago, or less, and they got two doctors on video to help us decide whether or not to administer it. By this time, SG was able to form a few words, which relieved me somewhat, and after consultation, he and the doctors decided against the treatment. While I watched, they asked him some questions and performed a few cognitive tests to determine how bad the stroke was. I was now able to see now that the left side of his face was drooping, and that he had definitely had some sort of event. As he lay on the stretcher, the rainbow shoes continue to elicit plenty of comments.

It's no exaggeration to say that I was scared and frightened for him, but the amazing treatment he was receiving made me again grateful for the incredible care we receive at our local hospital. The head nurse also made sure I knew he was likely going to survive and had what appeared to be a mild stroke. "Mild" because he was conscious and able to communicate, even though he couldn't talk. She told me that he was going to be admitted, and since by this time it was after noon, I went home to get some lunch.

When I returned, he was not in the room, and I panicked for a minute, before I was told he was receiving an MRI and a few other tests and would be brought back soon. The feeling of helplessness I was having didn't get any better, but I knew he was in good hands. When they brought him back into the room, I could see he was aware and was able to talk even a little better. He sounded like he had just finished a bottle of vodka and was slurring his words, but they were almost understandable. "He's going to be moved into a room on another floor, so you might as well go home until then," the nurse said.

I didn't want to go, but there was really nothing to be accomplished by standing around, so I went home, where I paced around the living room, not sure how our lives were be altered by this event. I wanted to be with him, to have him back and whole again, and it was impossible to know anything for certain, except that he was alive and in good hands.

When I returned to find he had been given a room on the fourth floor and was being given yet another test, so I got to see his new room before he did. When he came in by wheelchair with a cute nurse attending him, I was so relieved to see him looking alert and smiling at her, even if it was a bit lopsided. I was told that his left side was compromised, but that he did have some sensation there, which was good news. He was still wearing the magic shoes, and by this time dozens of people had commented on them. "Nice Crocs!" "Wow, those are amazing shoes!"

A doctor came in to check on him, and I was told that he had suffered an insular ischemic stroke, on the right side of his brain, which affected his left side. The most common side effects of this type of stroke are dysarthria ( a condition in which problems occur with the muscles that help produce speech, often making it very difficult to pronounce words), and motor deficits. I watched his therapist get him out of bed to use the bathroom, and he seemed a little wobbly, but able to get there without too much help. That encouraged me a lot.

He ended up spending three days and two nights at the hospital, and when I brought him home on Tuesday afternoon, he was able to walk up the steps himself, while holding onto the railing. He was so exhausted after all the trauma that he even went to bed in the early evening, which is very unlike him. I kept checking on him, and he was resting very comfortably, and my spirits rose with the hope that he would soon be okay. Part of the effects of this kind of stroke is that he had no appetite and when he tried to eat, he could taste nothing. But he could eat!

Now that it's been almost a full week since it happened, I have watched his daily progress with simple amazement. He is nothing if not determined: his therapist told him to try to pick up a quarter off the counter and turn it in his left hand. At first, he couldn't do it at all, but he persevered and showed me his progress. Yesterday I saw him with his juggling balls (actually little weighted pillows), and he would throw one from his right hand into his left. It took some doing, but now he can throw it back and forth and almost always catch it with the left hand. And he can walk briskly around the apartment, telling me he's ready for a ten-mile run (he was joking of course). But his mental capacities are not dimmed in the least, and his sense of humor is intact. What else does a person need if you've got that, and a partner who loves you? And magic shoes, of course.

And love him I do: I am beginning to become proficient in Stroke Dialect and can almost always understand what he's saying to me the first time he says it. We will be seeing the doctor after three full weeks on aspirin and Plavix, as well as a statin, and he is determined to get over this as quickly as possible. He has begun to taste food a little, and although he says it's not the same, at least it's beginning to return somewhat.

My heart swells with love for him several times a day, and I am happy to see his progress as I try to keep my desire to help him in check. He has always been an independent and stubborn soul, while I crave to make it better, to help him however I can. The best way is to support him emotionally while letting him do the hard work, I'm learning. We both are during this time. And several people have wondered, as I have, whether the stroke occurred because of Covid, which he had in late March. There's no way to tell.

It doesn't really matter at this stage. He's been poked and prodded and tested extensively (he was tested for the virus while still in the emergency room), and he will get over this, even if his ability to talk might take awhile to return, he's made incredible progress in just a week. I'll let you know next Sunday how the week has gone, but we are counting our blessings and know we are in good hands, both here on Earth and also Up There. Until we meet again next week, I wish you all good things, dear friends.


Mona McGinnis said...

DJan, my kindest regards to you and your partner. In an instant, life can take a turn.

gigi-hawaii said...

I wish SG a speedy recovery, and it looks like he is continuing to improve. And those crocs are amazing.

Marie Smith said...

Life can change so quickly. However, with a loving spouse and great medical care, one can recovery well from a stroke if it is caught early. Take care of yourself too, Jan. Thinking of you both...

ApacheDug said...

My gosh DJan, I didn't even realize I was holding my breath until I got to the end--you had me on the edge of my seat here. I'm so sorry for what SG (and you) had to go through, what a stressful & scary experience--but I liked how his colorful shoes were a constant "good thing". (Those are some pretty cool crocs!) Very glad to hear SG is on the mend and being so proactive about it too. What a week.

Far Side of Fifty said...

So good to hear of daily improvement! I love those Magic Shoes!! It is hard to see your best friends struggle to get better, just be nearby if he needs help.
It sounds like he got the care he needed at the hospital...yes I have heard that people who had Covid are most likely to have strokes or heart attacks...but I do not know if that was a proven study or just speculation. You never know what to believe anymore.
Hang in there Smart Guy...you are in my prayers!
Hope you are having a normal Sunday instead of a scary one:)

Sheila said...

So glad his stroke was a mild one and that he's recovering well. That's great that your hospital let you be there with him. Sounds like he got and is getting excellent care. My 47 year old DIL suffered a Covid stroke (yes, it's real) and my son was not allowed to see her until he picked her up to go home. Awful for them both. Wishing SG a speedy and full recovery.

Friko said...

Oh DJan, how very frightening for you. I know what it feels like, my Beloved had several TIAs, always recovering fully.
I wish both of you the very best, keep strong, keep the love in your heart and keep working at recovering. And three cheers for magic shoes.

My very best wishes.

Elephant's Child said...

Echoing everyone else.
I am thrilled that he is recovering so well, and absolutely love those shoes. I don't usually like crocs - but they are a definite exception.
I will continue to hold both of you in my heart, and cheer from far away.

Arkansas Patti said...

Life can sure change on a dime can't it? You both did everything right getting him quickly to the hospital. So glad he is home now and working on getting better. A lot he can do himself with the support of his loving wife. Keeping you both in my prayers that this will all soon be behind you.
Not a croc person but those really are neat.

Gigi said...

Oh, DJan! I can't even imagine how you were feeling. I am so thankful that he is improving and will continue to pray for the two of you and keep you in my heart. Sending lots of love and hugs..

Rian said...

OMG, DJan, I haven't had my laptop in a week. It's been in the shop for repairs. So when I just got on and read this, I couldn't believe it. So glad he is doing well. I will pray for a quick recovery. You must stay strong for the both of you. I'm really glad you were able to be with him or at least visit in the hospital. I hear stories that they won't let anyone but the patient in. Will they be able to tell if the stroke was a result of the Covid?

Red said...

Thanks the information. I wish both of you a speedy recovery and hope you to get back to what you were originally. It's a terrifying tense experience to go through.

Trish MacGregor said...

My God, you describe this journey so well and beautifully that it's like a guidebook for anyone else whose partner is experiencing this. My husband also had COVID back in early March. Stay well, DJan, and healing thoughts to you and your husband.

Linda Myers said...

Oh, DJan, I wish I could have been there with you. It is so frightening when someone you love is having an event. Breathe in, breathe out, my friend.

Mary said...

Wishing your husband continuing recovery.

Rita said...

Thank goodness it was a mild stroke! Stubbornness and independence will serve him well with his recovery. Attitude and spirit are everything. He is blessed.

I watched a blood clot travel through Dagan's brain after heart surgery when he was 19...whole side drooped and didn't work. Luckily it came loose and kept moving so that by the time he got to the MRI it had ended up in his lung. Not that that was a wonderful place, but a lot better than the brain. Scary stuff!

Did they test him for antibodies to make sure he had covid? I've heard a lot about blood clots with covid. I'm so glad they let you be with him. So many are kept isolated from loved ones. :) *love and hugs and wishes for fast healing*

Linda Reeder said...

Somehow I missed this post. I'm so glad I found it so that I could read about your frightening experience. We who have beloved, aging partners can put ourselves in your shoes and have some idea of the panic such an event will cause.
I am happy that your husband is making progress toward recovery. I look forward to further reports. I send you both my love.

The Furry Gnome said...

Brave of you to write about this. I'll be sending you both best wishes every day.

Anvilcloud said...

Oh my! That was certainly an unexpected read this morning. You both seem to be coping well mentally, and I hope his progress continues. All the best.

Margaret said...

That must have been terrifying, and I'm so happy to read about his progress. I had heard about the connection between Covid and strokes, but it seems like there's no way to tell for sure. I love his shoes!!

Galen Pearl said...

So glad that he is on the mend. I suppose if you are going to have a mild stroke and have to go to the hospital, you should go in high style. Those shoes!! Your Sunday posts often end by finishing your tea with him still sleeping beside you, which is very sweet. So glad that he is okay.

Junk Journal Penpals said...

Wow, that was scary for you. I was glad to read that he is recovering. It must have given you such a jolt! and he is the cook? right? Let's hope he continues the recovery in leaps and bounds. Take care, both of you xx


Junk Journal Penpals said...

ps I have a new blog, https://starproms.blogspot.com

I had to give up on the old one because I was receiving too many anonymous, unwanted comments.

William Kendall said...

It sounds like he was in the best of hands, and that he had the awareness to know how to respond in the fact that he knew to write down things as it was happening.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Wow !
Glad you were able to recognize his jokes so easily. It seems like the recovery is going well. Yes it was scary for both of you. I look forward to learning more about how you progress next Sunday. I am no longer typing the words I am using voice dictation to be able to express myself.
As you deal with the recovery of stroke I try new ways to deal with my blindness.
May you and smart guy continue to enjoy many lovely years ahead.
By the way I love those magic shoes .

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

The word jokes above should have been strokes. it will take time for dictation to be accurate . Sorry for the error..

The Furry Gnome said...

Glad he's recovered so well and you're feeling so good about it. Yes, make every single day count!, I should know!

Glenda Beall said...

I just read this post and am shocked about SG having a stroke. Reminds of the time my Barry had a mild ischemic event. He could not raise his hand but he could speak. It is so scary when someone you love so dearly experiences such a traumatic thing. I am so glad he is responding and working hard to overcome this. My heart goes out to you, my friend, because watching and trying to be of help is very hard. Knowing what to do and not do is a real learning experience. My love to you and best wishes for a complete recovery for SG.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, as with everyone who's left a comment here and all who, I'm sure, read your weeding blog without leaving a comment, I am stunned to read this, but, oh, so relieved that SG is recovering. I trust that clearer speech will follow. How difficult this must be for the two of you. You are both in my prayers and thoughts and visualizations. I'll go now and read your next posting so I can learn how things are progressing. Peace, pressed down and overflowing like honey into the pores of both of you.