Wednesday, June 30, 2010

How To Ensure The ER Will Talk About You

As I mentioned previously, my father suffered a stroke not too long ago. 16 days ago to be precise. And because we like to make sure that we will be remembered (good or bad), my family takes certain precautions upon entering the ER. It is of the utmost importance to make a lasting impression on those who give so much to making the welfare of the community better. My family does our part to make sure we are not forgotten. This includes:

  • My 71 year old father denying he needed ANY medical attention. Of course, as he was saying this, he couldn't hardly open one eye, limped, slurred every single word that exited his lips and had one side of his face drooping. Nah, Daddy, I just didn't want to do my homework this afternoon and decided that I'd druther run you to the ER instead.
  • Daddy telling the ER physician we accused him of forgetting his own child's name. (While en route to the hospital, he couldn't come up with my sister's name. I asked him mine, and he thought and thought before saying, "Dr. Robin". Told you he was funny, even during a stroke.) When the doctor asks you what your kids' names are, reply without missing a beat, "Nosy and Busybody". That'll show 'em. [FYI-I informed my sister that she was Nosy and I was Busybody.]
  • Make sure one member of your party wears the LOUDEST flip flops in the county. While your father may not be complaining or bellowing in pain, we need to make sure that everyone knows you're there. Noisy shoes will remind them to come and check on you.

Thought we were finished? Ha!

13 days later, Daddy was sent back to the ER under doctor's orders for a CT scan after experiencing several hours of mental confusion (including making my sister go to the mailbox at 7:45 a.m. and trying to make me check the mail even earlier, thinking I was my mother despite our nearly 30 year age difference-that made Mama's day).

Of course, thinking only of the comfort of our parents, my sister stayed at the house, ready to transport my mother to the hospital once she arrived home from work. So I took Daddy back up to the ER and awaited the diagnosis. He had been doing so well, that all the confusion was such a shock.

In walks the ER doctor and nurse. "Well, sir, so you're confused? What seems to be the trouble?"

My father replies without missing a beat, "You just wait until my wife and other daughter get up here. Then you'll see why I'm confused."

Needless to say, the medical staff laughed (as did I). They ran a bunch of tests and said that he was going to be okay. The confusion could be with him for a few months, or indefinitely. However, Daddy still has his sense of humor, and we are so grateful.

Explaining this whole mess to everyone though-once we got home, one of his sisters called. Daddy tried and tried to explain it. Then finally, he called Mama to the phone. Mom listened for a moment, then burst out laughing. "That's pretty much it," she answered. I asked her later and she said, "Your dad kept telling them, the girls felt bad so they put me in the hospital."

Any wonder Daddy won't let me help him with anything?

"A cheerful heart is good medicine." Proverbs 17:22

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Hope Comes One Bite At A Time

Ten days ago, my family experienced a life changing event: my father suffered a stroke. Now, thank the Lord, things are slowly returning to normal (although you could make an argument we weren't all that normal to begin with), but it's amazing how you measure progress.

Sometime I will tell you about how Daddy was completely and utterly himself throughout the ordeal (which meant even in the throes of a stroke, he was still laugh out loud funny), but things I've never even thought about I take for granted.

For example, eating. Being able to hold a slice of bread in your left hand and use it to move your food around is a BIG deal. Trust me on this one. A week ago, Daddy was released from the hospital. That first night home, he tried to eat. We stuck a dishrag in his lap because a napkin wasn't big enough. He couldn't hold anything with his left hand. He would try to pick up bread and his hand-eye coordination was off. He couldn't hold anything, even when you put it in his hand. It was painful to watch your father, whom you have seen as a powerful figure your entire life, be reduced to being fed with a fork by you.

And the left side of his face was paralyzed. This meant that he would "hide" vast amounts of food in his cheek. We were in constant fear that he would not chew his food well and choke or that he would not feel the food there and leave it in there. Mealtimes required extra vigilance.
Even though we put on brave faces for the visitors and well wishers, it was hard. We heard the doctors say that he would get better, but had doubts.

Fast forward to this morning. Eating breakfast with toast, there sits my father, holding his toast in his left hand. Again, this miracle had previously gone unnoticed in our household until this week. Not only that, he could bite and chew without needing assistance from us.

This morning I learned that God works in all kinds of ways. He does send us hope. This morning, He sent it one bite at a time.