Behind the Curtain: This Post Could Save A Life.

My dad and me back in 1992.

 

Hey, everyone! Believe it or not, the title isn’t clickbait. I mean what I
said. As some of you may have noticed, I did not post last week. Why? My Dad
was in the hospital.

Writers come across things every day that become research. Nuggets of
information that will make their way into a book…this experience was a bit of
information I never wanted. I now know what it feels like firsthand to watch
someone I love having a stroke. The terrifying part was that it didn’t look
like what I saw in the movies or what I’d always heard about.

At roughly 5 a.m. EST last Saturday, I had been up all night working to make
a deadline when I heard my dad screaming for help. He’d sat down and couldn’t
stand up again. My mom and I helped him up and with a walker he was able to
move back to his bed where we could get a better look at him. He could walk,
lift his arms, give two thumbs up, smile equally on both sides of his face, and
he even buttoned his own shirt. He was also able to repeat a simple sentence to
us after a couple of tries and continued to say it correctly when asked. This last
part, especially, threw us off because his speech can be garbled when he first
wakes after sleeping hard. In these moments he was also still actively having a
stroke.

Dad was even able to carefully (key word) walk down the stairs on his own.
(Mom and I were with him the whole time if something went wrong.) Given all
these things, we didn’t understand what was happening because, seemingly, all
functions were intact. His speech was clear once he was fully awake. I stayed
downstairs with him while my mom made preparations to take him to his doctor’s
office when it opened because something had clearly happened, but what? The
terrifying answer would come when my dad turned to me and asked me to go and
get his electric razor so he could shave…only none of those words came out of
his mouth. No, what my mechanically minded, smart, capable father said was
this, “Go get my cookie to brush my face? I need my cookie. I want to
brush my face.” As comical as this would have been in literally any other
situation, this sentence dropped the bottom out of my stomach. If it hadn’t
been for the hand motion he was making, I never would have known what he meant.

I asked him if he wanted his razor and he said yes as if it were the most
natural answer in the world. I calmly told him I would get it, but that he
needed to understand that wasn’t what he has said to me. He then told me his
head was hurting and I ran upstairs to tell my mom something was extremely
wrong. I brought him his razor and Mom came downstairs so we could decide the
next move. Dad was still repeating correctly, the simple sentence we asked him
for, “The red ball.” It’s his other words that were getting jumbled.
We tried to call his doctor and when she didn’t answer, we made the choice to
drive to the hospital rather than wait for an ambulance. By this time, an hour
or more had passed since he first called for help.

At the end of all of this my dad, praise the Lord, ended up being okay. He
spent two days in the hospital after it was determined he had a mild stroke.
He’s now 100% back to himself and I give God full credit for this. My purpose
with this post, though, and stepping away from my normal book banter, is to say
that a stroke doesn’t always look like the movies. Sometimes someone can button
their shirt and smile. They can even repeat a sentence after a try or two and
all their words may be clear. Please, if you have ANY reason to suspect a stroke
in someone, do not wait. Call for help or get them to the emergency room
because with a stroke, every second counts.

Sincerely,

Justina

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