I was assembling lentil soup in the crock pot when Bill’s stroke happened. I had added the last ingredient, the pork roast that Bill’s boss, Paul, had given to Bill. This pork is special because Paul raised it at his house and had brought it to work. Bill loved it so much, he brought me a piece home to taste. Now there was only a bit of the pork left. He brought it to me in support of our recent discussion on whether to raise pigs of our own. These pork leftovers cinched it for us.
It is Sunday the 23 of December, 11.10 AM . Bill is sitting at the table reading the internet, drinking coffee, eating toast and taking vitamins. I washed my hands at the sink, humming along with the radio. He sat back and said something odd and I didn’t understand what he said.
“What? What did you say?”
He told me “Something terrible happened”.
I asked, Yeah but what? He couldn’t tell me he said.
What he said didn’t make any sense at all. I asked again, “What happened? What did you read?”
He slapped his hands on his knees, said ” I can’t tell you”.
A few minutes passed while I tried to understand what he meant, trying to get more information about what he read. He struggled to tell me, but what he tried to say became even more confusing. He seemed to have a flash of anxiety and frustration and he bolted up out of his chair, and headed out the front door, then changed his mind and went out on the back patio. Standing there he looked confused. I dried my hands and motioned for him to come back in and talk with me. Over and over he said “there is trouble”, “something is wrong”, “what time is it”, and “I can’t tell you”. When he started repeating “whats your name”, I knew there was something more than what he read on the internet. I started to freak out a little bit. How he acted reminded me of a co worker in college who had experienced a stroke in a staff meeting, but we didn’t understand she was in medical trouble at the time.
Plastered on our kitchen door is a bunch of pictures and magnets. Pictures of relatives who have grown up, reminders of good times we had, my son when he was young and a recipe for gooey butter cake from my daughter in law. Also, four magnets from the American Heart Association. 2 on recognizing a heart attack, 1 on recognizing heart failure and the biggie for this day, recognizing stroke.
I read the list of warning signs. Sudden numbness, didn’t seem like it. Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, Yes he did seem confused and surely wasn’t speaking well. Sudden trouble seeing, No, he seemed okay. Sudden trouble walking, he always had trouble walking and keeping his balance. It was so weird how he was acting though, so I told him I thought he was having a stroke and we needed to get him to the hospital, was that okay?
He agreed. Now I was really freaking out. I felt scared and all I could think was get to the hospital. It never occurred to me to call 911. He went to the bedroom, changed into his jeans, tried to put on his shoes, while I grabbed coats, car keys and cell phone. All I could think of was getting him there as fast as I could. After his shoes were on, we head out the door into the truck. He had given up trying to talk, so he climbed into the seat and sat as we headed out to the hospital. Fast.
We live less than 5 miles from the hospital. Luckily, Sunday mornings no one is on our little country road. It took just a few minutes down our country road to get there, Bill held my hand, squeezing it tight until we pulled into the emergency entrance. Jumping out of the truck, I headed into the emergency room entrance, while Bill tried to get out of the truck. So far, we had been fortunate, considering he hadn’t lost consciousness, lost his strength or hadn’t experienced cardiac arrest. A nurse sat inside a glass cubicle, right across from the entrance. I could see her to the right as I went to the check in desk. She heard me as I said to the receptionist I think my husband is having a stroke. She seemed very calm, but moved fast as she grabbed a wheelchair and met Bill as he was trying to get out of the truck and wheeled him into the hospital. By the time I filled out a post card, and moved the truck out of the drive into the parking lot and re entered the hospital, he was already in having a CT done.
He was returned to the examination room #22, before I removed my coat. About 5 people converged on the room, while one nurse explained that people would be asking me the same questions over and over. I can’t remember the reason why they did it, but it made sense at the time. The others were putting in IV’s, asking Bill questions, taking blood pressure and discussing what to do. The Doctor came in, introduced himself, heard the story and then the Pharmacist came in with TPa . He explained the TPa treatment was to dissolve the blood clot that he had in his brain. How important it was to know when the symptoms occurred, what the risk associated and the benefits were for the TPa. I signed the paper. Bill kept asking “whats your name”.
Next week. The first few days post stroke.