At first his words didn’t register….I didn’t understand as he tried to tell me how he could not move his left arm and his left leg. He couldn’t flex his fingers, or bend his foot at the ankle. We mentioned it to one of his doctors and, after yet another MRI it was determined that he had had another stroke. It had likely occurred when a clot developed in his arm after a routine blood draw while he was on the respirator and traveled to his brain, resulting in the stroke.
He seemed so small and lost, sitting in that chair in his ICU ‘room’. He was extremely quiet, and I knew what he must be thinking. He had always worked, and took great pride in providing for his family. I knew he was worried about how we would make it if he had to leave his job. I immediately began telling him how we would be just fine, I’d work more hours, we’d cut corners…..I desperately needed him to be positive, and not become depressed. He was adamant as he said, “You are NOT going to make me quit my job!!” I told him I had no intention of doing that, I just wanted him to know that we would survive if it were necessary.
The first few meals I spoon fed him. Then they brought him pork chops. It was a cruel twist that he is also left-handed, so it was very painful to watch him maneuver the knife and fork with his only cooperative hand being the weaker one. He was determined to learn, however. After a few more days he was ready to go to a regular room. As we waited for Transport to take him to his room, we received the news that his platelet counts had dropped to 25,000, from about 250,000, and doctors were concerned that it had something to do with his blood thinner. Up to this point I had been stoic around my husband at all times. With his condition being resistant to coumadin, there weren’t many other options in the way of blood thinners, and as I pondered the horrible consequences of him having NOTHING to thin his blood, I began to panic.
I don’t recall the treatment they used…likely it was Prednisone, but gradually his platelet count began to climb again. He began receiving physical therapy on his arm, hand and leg, and slowly began taking walks. He had gotten into a routine with the physical therapist where they would walk around the perimeter of the 3rd floor. One Saturday SHE was the one keeping up with HIM, and she mentioned that he was getting so much faster. “I have to” he told her, “it’s halftime!!”. I knew then that he would be fine.
His at-home therapy included working on his fine-motor skills, since he needed to write and use tools, etc. for work. He spent hours writing, and had this little machine that would provide resistance when pressed down by his individual fingers. He was constantly exercising those fingers. Before we knew it, he was making plans to go back to work, and for the next year, we settled into a new normal, as we dealt with the limited mobility and memory issues. His lowered heart function also meant that he tired very easily. When he came home from work every evening, he was exhausted.
The end of November, one year later, I would learn the value of ‘practice makes perfect’, and we would begin another chapter with yet another crisis.