Yesterday, while sitting in the emergency department room where my dad was being assessed for the severity of the stroke he had, I listened to him tell the doctor that he didn’t want to be resuscitated or put on any kind of machine if any event happened and it came to that. I told him he was my hero and asked him what I was going to do without him, and he said, “Then you can be a hero.” Fortunately, those words were no longer slurred when he said them.
My mom had called at around 0830 hrs with a hint of panic in her voice. “Dad just had a stroke and his right side won’t work. Go get Frank and come out. I need your help to get him in the pickup. I can’t get him up by myself.” Frank drove around 140 mph as I discussed with him that we needed to be careful of Dad’s neck because of that stenosis and we tossed scenarios back and forth as to where we might be having to get him from in the house out to the pickup. A county deputy followed us off the Interstate and my brother got out and flagged him down for help before he could switch his lights on. Fortunately, we knew the deputy. When we got to the house, we found Dad in the chair closest to the door with Mom holding him up. “It’s his right side.” The deputy took off his bulletproof vest and helped us lift my dad into a chair with rollers on all four legs, then he and my brother and my mom carried him out to the pickup. My dad, speech slurred, said, “I feel so helpless.”
We got my dad into the back of Mom’s pickup and I buckled him in. I sat next to him in the back seat while Mom drove to the hospital – close to 30 of the longest miles I have ever had to endure as a civilian. I kept Dad talking, slurred as it was, and paced my question-asking as not to agitate him. I found out from him that he had awoken that way, and had made it halfway to the bathroom from the couch as it worsened. (Later, I found out that Mom had helped him the rest of the way to the bathroom, then, when he couldn’t use his right side, she had lifted him up off of the bathroom floor where he fell and basically carried him out, down the hallway, across the living room, and sat him in the chair next to the door. My mom is 71 years old!!! And no, she’s not bigger than my dad!!! That’s when she called me for help.) When we finally made it to the hospital, my brother got a wheelchair while I went in and told the nurses at the desk that my dad was having a stroke. My brother lifted my dad out of the pickup as I held the wheelchair and then helped support my dad as Mom steadied the wheelchair and my brother got my dad better situated in the chair just as the nurses came out to help. They got him in the back right away while I parked Mom’s pickup in the parking lot. Frank had already parked and run down from the parking lot. My brother and I sat in the entryway watching the automatic door that would never quite close and when it would almost close, opened again, malfunctioning… It passed the time while Mom was in the back with Dad. Mom came out and said that Dad was doing better (probably due to her quick-thinking response of giving him two Extra-Strength Exedrin at home) and that they were going to do a CT scan. I gave her the keys and then had Frank take me home and I came back in my truck. Frank had told her that he and Kristin would bring Cullen by so Dad could see him later when he was in a room.
When I got back to the hospital, Dad was having his CT scan done and Mom was in the emergency department room by herself. It was then that I found out about what I have described above concerning the process of this whole thing. A neurologist, Dr. Richards, came in and assessed my dad. Fortunately, we got the same hospitalist that saw Dad a year ago when he was diagnosed with the spinal and cervical stenosis. Besides being good-looking and intelligent, he got along well with my dad, which was a Godsend at that point. He explained that they were going to keep my dad overnight, then do an ultrasound of his carotid arteries and his heart, and probably release him this morning. Dad just wanted a cigarette and some sleep. After they got him up to a room – Room 608 – they armed the pressure sensor in his bed so that he couldn’t get up by himself without setting it off. On top of that, he had a particularly rough-around-the-edges nurse that hardly spoke English. I knew that wasn’t going to last long. My dad barely has any patience when he’s feeling his best, and he definitely wasn’t feeling his best… Frank and Kristin brought the baby in and Dad enjoyed that. Mom and I bowed out for the day while they were there so that they could visit and then Dad could go to sleep afterwards.
I called my older brother Marc and filled him in on what I knew. Marc said to tell Dad that he loved him and not to be too stubborn… On that note, it was no surprise to me that my mom called at 0600 hrs this morning and said that Dad was home. He left AMA (against medical advice). Stubbornness at its finest… I guess I’ll talk to Mom later today and find out what happened. I let Marc and Frank know via text that Dad was home.