Our daughter just finished her 5th grade year in elementary school. Summer plans were awaiting us…and we were excited to prepare her for middle school.
My husband had recently returned from Philadelphia. He was there to help my father in law who recently was going through treatment for prostate cancer. Even though it was a tough trip, my husband came home in good spirits. Pop Pop was doing well considering the circumstances. Our marriage was solid and strong despite the normal trials and tribulations. He was on the fast track with his new job. All was well – we assumed.
We were clearly oblivious to the signs of what was going on. They were not obvious signs. A young man, 47 years old, physically fit. The headaches? Oh, that was stress from worrying about Pop Pop, or stress from work – so we assumed. That morning when his arm was a little numb? Oh, that was because he slept on it wrong – so we assumed.
That night though, as we lay in our bed, he struggled to move. We both laughed, made jokes about his age, until he stood up to stand. “Where are you going” I asked – and he simply said “to the bathroom”, before I could say another word – he fell to the floor. Instinctively I struggle to lift him as he says; oh, my God I am peeing on myself. He again laughed as I helped him stand – but something was not right. Still not catching on to what was happening, when he asked for his blood pressure medication, I got it immediately as he shared that he did not take it that day. Typical for him to be sporadic. No matter how physically fit he was, his pressure has been an issue since I met him. Yes…oblivious.
As I helped him clean himself up something within me triggered. He sat on the bed and I gave him some jeans and a T-shirt. I ran upstairs, woke our daughter, and quickly shared that we were going to take her Dad to the hospital. It was 3 a.m… Within 10 minutes, we were in the car with him proclaiming that he was fine. I drove quickly and within 15-20 minutes, we were there. I pulled right up to emergency and said go ahead in, I will park. He got out of the car and I was inside within a minute. Everything quickly moved and much of that part is a blur. His pressure was around 200/110. They put him on some form of a drip to take it down. He would be staying there for the night for monitoring.
I remember us getting to his room. There was a couch in the room for our daughter and me to lay on. The nurses kindly brought us blankets. We rested while they took him down for a CT scan. He returned, laughing, joking. My husband was back. He got up from the wheel chair, got into the bed. He asked us to go home, let the dog out and when we came back to bring him something decent to eat. Right before I left we were told there were no clots and they would monitor him for the day to be sure his pressure stayed down. No mention of a stroke, no mention of a mini stroke. As we left I felt relieved. Soon though, I would find out how clueless I was.
We did as he asked. Took care of our pets, showered, changed, and headed back to the hospital. I called enroute and asked if he could have a sub from Subway. There was no restriction and he was complaining about the warm Jell-O and the unseasoned chicken patty they had brought him. We again, laughed as I shared we would be there in 20.
What happened between the time we hung up to the time I walked into that room is unknown. There was a lot of commotion at the nurse’s station on his floor. Chatter about someone’s son drowning in the family pool (I later discovered that it was one of the nurse’s 3-year-old son). I proceeded to his room, where he sat with the hospital tray of warm Jell-O and yuck chicken (as he just claimed 20 minutes ago). I looked into his beautiful green eyes and I knew something was wrong. I grabbed his hand and said what is wrong and all he could say was he did not know as a tear rolled down his face. More blur as I remember opening his door and demanding the nurse. The doctor that I guess was on staff walked up to me and asked me what was wrong. He said he was just in with my husband, he just shook his hand. He was sure he was going to be OK…and I told him to come back in and check again. Again, more blur.
The staff quickly whisked my husband away. For a moment, I remember nurses holding me, I remember the doctor telling me he was sorry, he was fine 10 minutes ago. In that blur, I remembered my husband laughing with me telling me about the warm Jell-O and in the midst of the blur, our sweet daughter, held on to me. I looked at her, and I swallowed my pain, my fear and wiped away the tears and although I did not realize it then, at that moment, I instantly became a different woman.
Our daughter and I waited in the room together, the door was open and we listened to the chatter about the nurse’s son, and we quietly talked with each other. Still unsure of what had happened but we had faith that he was going to be just fine. Then the doctor comes in. He has a neurologist with him. They regretfully share; my husband was in ICU.
My husband, who I met in my first year of college, who was only 47, and just three years older than me…had suffered a massive stroke. Right there in the hospital.
Yeah, I was not the only one that was … oblivious.