Tag Archives: stroke

More Strokes & Other News

Hello everyone!  Phew…  In my previous post I told you about my folks visiting and my step-Dad having a stroke while in my backyard.  Well the medical upheaval continued.

Step-Dad was released from the hospital on Saturday, September 24th.  He rested that day and we all went out to dinner (his request) and they attended church with us on Sunday.  He was able to talk with Mr. CR who had lymphoma and was an encouragement to him.  Yes, my step-Dad was diagnosed with cancer about 4 weeks before their annual trip to see us.  His doctor said it wouldn’t be a problem to take the visit.

Monday and Tuesday he and I spent many hours talking about my soap business.  He has been helping me ‘launch’ my business as well as help me stream line the production process where I can, think through establishing a website and all the behind the scenes things that have to happen before the website is ready for the public.  Don’t ask me about domain names… what hard work THAT was!  😉

Also on Tuesday we were supposed to visit some local gift shops in order to find a few that would be willing carry my soaps.  We had stopped at 3 and were on our way to the 4th one when my mom said step-Dad’s tongue sounded “thick” and asked how he was feeling.  We then got to the gift shop and I had gotten out of the car and he had opened his door.  He was sitting in the back with Arrow.  He had started to swing his feet out of the car when he slurred a word.  He had not lost any strength on his right side.  We shut the car door and by the providence of God we were across the street from the firehouse, so we drove there.  Also by God’s providence they were “home”!  My step-Dad walked into the firehouse, and was slurring his words a little and sat in their chair.  The firemen drove the ambulance around and brought the gurney in.  By that time (less than 10 minutes) he had lost strength in his right side and had to be helped onto the gurney.  Off he went to the hospital… again.  We followed… not “followed” but drove along at a safe speed behind the ambulance and actually arrived only a few minutes after them.

Step-Dad was taken to the emergency room.  They were very busy.  He was offered the same drug taken previously (t-PA), but because of his very high blood pressure his risk factor for significant bleeding, possibly leading to death, was significantly higher.  They declined the t-PA this time around.  The doctor ordered Heparin, but then changed his mind and after 20 minutes that was stopped.  He had a CAT scan somewhere in there…

Then we waited… and waited… and waited… and waited some more.

The emergency room nurses were unfriendly, stood around the counter talking and acted like we were an interruption to them if we came out to ask for anything.  Step-Dad was unable to find a comfortable position in the very uncomfortable emergency room bed.  There was also no way to get out of the emergency room to other parts of the hospital without having to go through security doors… and then no way back in… we didn’t have a badge to open those doors.  So we couldn’t leave to get food or water.

After 4 1/2 hours he was sent up to the 5th floor ICU because the doctor was up there.  He hadn’t even been “officially” admitted.  Even the nurse said she had never heard of this before.  She had no orders and couldn’t do anything for him.  We were told that the doctor would see him in about half an hour so we went down to have dinner… at 9:30 PM.  Poor Arrow!  It had now been over 9 hours since he had eaten lunch.  He was a real trooper, but v-e-r-y hungry!  We got back up to Step-Dad’s room 45 minutes later and the doctor came in a little after that.  He explained the treatments options and what tests he was ordering.  Step-Dad was given a blood thinner.

The doctor asked how they wanted to have his care handled if his heart stopped.  Mom told the Dr. that they have a living will and wanted no artificial life support.  Step-Dad agreed with her.  The Doc verified that step-Dad was “Do Not Resuscitate” and they both agreed.  I stopped them to ask if step-Dad’s heart were to stop they really didn’t want the hospital to attempt to restart it at all???  They had not understood what the doctor was asking, for all they wanted was not to be kept alive artificially long term.  And your care options are much more limited with a DNR code… so please be careful!  There is no “life saving” treatments with a DNR… for you have asked for no life saving measures.

Thursday step-Dad had another CAT scan and a Transesophageal Echocardiography (TEE).  The latter is a more in depth scope of the heart from inside the body instead of through the chest wall.  It showed that his heart is fine.  The cancer raises the white cell count in the blood, making the blood thicker.  The thicker blood is what ’caused’ step-Dad’s  strokes.

The CAT scan showed lesions in 4 new areas that were not there on his CAT scan a month ago.  These new areas are the left axillary armpit, left lower neck, right kidney and the liver.  The first biopsy found cancer in the lymph nodes on the right side, in his back, just above the waist.  That is where his pain has consistently been.  The doctors here said these new lesions were suspicious for cancer and they suspect lymphoma.

The folks changed their flight to fly home on Saturday evening.They have already scheduled an appointment with an oncologist for the end of the week.  They were given copies of all Step-Dad’s scans, records, and treatments to give to his doctors in Minnesota.

May the Lord’s will be done and He be given glory through all this.

Fourteen things I am thankful for:

#1 – medical technology that allows doctors to “see” inside our bodies

#2 – the gift of my step-Dad.  He is like a dad to me and he says I am like the daughter he never had.  🙂

#3 – that Arrow & I were able to be there at the hospital with my folks for support and encouragement

#4 – Step-Dad’s positive attitude and generally cheerful disposition, even through all the hospitalizations, ambulance rides, numerous needle pokes, scans, etc

#5 – Step-Dad’s planner – he had his MN doctor’s phone numbers, list of all his medications he was taking, travel info & phone numbers so travel plans could be changed, and his file on my soap business

#6 – the hospital’s free parking & free Valet parking service

#7 – the general cheerful decorating of the hospital building & grounds

#8 – Mrs. GB, who came to visit with her dear children – such a sweet blessing

#9 – AMcD, who works at the hospital Step-Dad was in & stopped by to see him… twice!  Last time to pray with him the day before he was released the second time

#10 – BMcK, who called to talk with Step-Dad & pray with him

#11 – my church family & extended brothers and sisters in Christ who have prayed diligently for Step-Dad since his cancer diagnosis

#12 – the Lord’s gracious arrangement of small details: changing my menu to accommodate being at the hospital, being “right there” at the firehouse, parking spaces right inside the parking garage,

#13 – I didn’t eat out of frustration, or stress during the entire visit

#14 – I was prepared for an emergency: I knew when to call 911, my cell was charged, when I couldn’t eat anything at the hospital cafeteria (very little gf & df) I could easily pack my own food, Arrow could easily grab some games & drawing materials to keep him occupied at the hospital, my gas tank is kept full, I have maps & atlases in the car (GPS might not work!), I had easily prepared food on hand for those late night meals

Blessings, ~Mrs. R

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Watermelon Lemonade & A Stroke

Just thought I would pop in quickly to say “Hi” and let you know I probably won’t have much time to post for a few more days.  My mom and step-Dad’s annual visit started on Thursday morning.  They will be with us for a week.

Arrow and I went to pick them up from the airport at 9 AM.   After they picked up their rental car and checked into their hotel they came to our home and we fixed lunch.  It has been such beautiful weather that we decided to eat outside on the patio.

I made a wonderful Watermelon Lemonade!  Just cube up a seedless watermelon and fill your Vitamix blender to the top with the watermelon cubes.  Remove the seeds if you can only find the seeded variety.  Add 2 – 4 splashes of organic lemon juice (or the juice of two lemons) and agave nectar to taste.  I used about 1/8th of a cup of nectar.  Start blender, turn variable to high & speed to 10.  Mix for just 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Blend a little longer if needed.  Adjust sweetness if necessary.  Pour over ice.  Made 4 – 16 ounce glasses.  Enjoy!!  Everyone really liked this.  Not overly sweet and very refreshing.

I was unaware of how nutritious watermelon is!  It is packed with antioxidants.  Also a good source of vitamins C and A.  It is rich in vitamins B6, B1 and magnesium.  It is 90% water.  I did not know that watermelon is considered more nutritious than other fruits!  It is also a better source of lycopene than tomatoes!!  Watermelon is also full of electrolytes, potassium and sodium.  I had NO idea that one of my favorite summer melons was so good for me.  What a double bonus!!

Mom & Arrow went inside to clear up the dishes after lunch and my step-Dad and I stayed outside to talk about my soap business.  He has been helping me get my soap business launched, running, profitable and have me think through various ‘soap process’ decisions.  As we sat there talking he suddenly started slurring his words.  He would chuckle and say “isn’t this interesting” or “isn’t the strange”.  He was completely unconcerned about the slurring and he continued to talk about my soap business.

As the slurring continued he then realized that he was unable to use his right arm, hand or leg.  It was then I started asking him lots of questions about any pain, dizziness, indigestion, if this had happened before, and many more I don’t remember.  Between my questions about his condition he still talked about my soap business.

After some minutes I asked him if he would like to try going inside to lay down on the couch, to which he said yes.  I called Arrow and together we got him up (barely) and then attempted to maneuver him into the house.  With only one usable leg and we had to get him across the patio, UP one step, across the room and it was then I realized we then had to turn him around to get him onto the couch!  Once we had started I didn’t think it would be safe to return him to the wood-slat patio bench.  We would have had to ‘drop’ him onto the bench and they are not the sturdiest things on the planet!

With the help of the Lord (angels perhaps?) we did get him to the couch safely.  That was when I decided that a  call to 9-1-1 would be prudent.  They arrived within a few minutes and whisked he & mom off to the nearest hospital.  Arrow and I left a few minutes later.

What in the world was I thinking when I decided that it would be “wise” to bring him indoors and lay him down on the couch!!??!!??  I mean really, the man had no use of his right side in the least, and Arrow and I were going to help him into the house?  What if he fell and hit is head on the cement, patio door frame, shelves, cabinet, piano etc??!!!  What if we dropped him?  He could have had mush worse injuries from my bad decision.

Of course hindsight is perfect.

When we arrived at the hospital they had already done scans and found a blood clot near his brain.  They were preparing him to get the t-PA blood clot busting medicine then have him transferred to a Tacoma hospital that specialized in strokes, known as a “drip & ship”.  That was administered and I stood talking to him while it went to work busting up the clot.  After 15 – 25 minutes his speech was UN-slurred as suddenly as it had started!  His right arm and leg were also no longer immobile!  What a miracle and blessing from the Lord!!

The second ambulance crew arrived to take him to the other hospital.  Then there was the new hospital staff and surroundings to settle into.  We had a special visit from Mrs. GB a sweet, precious friend from church with her 4 sweet children.  I also had a call from a sweet friend from New Mexico!  We got him all settled into the second hospital and then we all went home and had dinner.

Friday evening he had an MRI to determine the extent of the damage the stroke left on his brain.  From all indications there is not one speck of any permanent damage to any area of his brain.  I know as we have talked and I have witnessed his “shift change cognitive assessments” (I don’t think that is the correct name but it’s what I can think of right now) there is NO lack of mobility or strength, NO memory impairment, NO cognitive impairment.  None.  Zip.  Nada.  Every single tech, CNA, or other medical personnel (that I have been there to witness) has said, “Wow you look great!”.  And truly he does.  If I had not witnessed the stroke I would NEVER have been able to tell that he had one in the first place.  So now his and mom’s job will be to do what they can to prevent any further clots from forming in the future.

It was very interesting to talk with him about the actual event.  The nurse on Friday evening had asked him if he had been aware that he was slurring his words during the stroke.  He said that he was.  I asked him is he had been aware that he was having a stroke and he said he did not realize that at all.  He remained unconcerned as this “interesting” phenomena was occurring and I kept thinking he was having a stroke.  His calm, unconcerned, this will pass attitude, kept me from taking action in calling 911 a few minutes earlier, though that call was placed about 15 – 20 minutes after the stroke onset.

It has been a very “eventful” and “interesting” start to our annual visit with my mom and step-dad to say the least!  🙂

God has graciously granted us a miracle beyond all hopes and expectations.  I am still in shock and awe at the mercies of the Lord granted to my step-Dad.

SIGNS OF A STROKE (from the booklet at the hospital)

* sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.

*sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding

* sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes

*sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination

*sudden, severe headache with no known cause

If signs are present CALL 9-1-1!!

Blessings,  ~Mrs. R

top photo from art.com (link in sidebar)