Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Chronicle of a Stroke, One Month and Beyond

From Jenny Sue Got Married, originally posted February 5, 2011.

 Yesterday was a full month since Al's stroke. All the intricate details that I thought I would remember are now fading into a blur. Al ended up spending 2 more days in ICU, and then was finally transferred to a regular unit on Sunday, January 9. Even though it was only 4 days, it felt like I had moved to the hospital. I had left my slippers, a stash of healthy snacks, and even a toothbrush in Al's room. It was a bit of a rude awakening to be transferred to a shared room, where we didn't have the entire run of the place. I took home my slippers and toothbrush. Once Al was settled into his new digs, it was time to bring the kiddos in to see him. I picked them up from school and we headed straight to the hospital. But first, we had to stop in the gift shop, of course. After loading up with a travel-sized Battleship game; an MSU Spartan key ring, a container of candy with a miniature "Get Well" balloon, and a big-eyed stuffed Panda bear that Faith chose so Al wouldn't be lonely. The kids were definitely thrilled to see him, but Faith had the hardest time seeing her big, strong Daddy so tired and weak in a hospital bed. She stayed by his side during the entire visit, and her eyes teared up many times. When it was time to leave, she didn't want to let go of his hand. Later that night, as we we snuggled together in my bed, Faith asked me, "Mommy, why did God let this happen to Daddy?" "Well, honey," I began, "Sometimes God lets things happen so we can learn to trust Him more." She responded, "How can I trust God if He let this happen?" All I could do was hug her, reassure her that Daddy would be OK, and pray that God would give her an answer to that difficult question. On January 11, Al moved into the rehab center at the hospital, and since then he has undertaken the grueling work of re-learning to walk, talk and move his entire left side. While still in the ICU, an Occupational Therapist - a slight woman - came in to get Al out of bed and into a chair. She had him sit up in bed, and then helped him swing his legs over the side of the bed. She then strapped a gait belt around his waist and had him scoot his hips as close to the edge of the bed as possible. When she helped him to stand, I was stunned to see the complete lack of ability demonstrated by his left side. He looked like a palsied child instead of my strong, able-bodied spouse. I swallowed hard and tried not to cry. They had originally thought he would spend 2-3 weeks in rehab, but his release date was soon pushed back to February 17 and it has been stuck there ever since. The consolation is now that we're into the month of February and only about 10 days remain until we receive him back home - 10 days that will now be packed full of painting, moving furniture and minor renovations. We will be moving our bedroom to the first floor and doing some minor tweaks to the bathrooms to make them more "user-friendly" for Al.

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