TIAs: God’s Little Reminders

Yesterday started out really good. My husband and I got up, went for a Starbucks breakfast, hiked part of the way up Mission Peak, did our grocery shopping, visited his parents, and then came home to cook a Mexican meal. About 8:30pm I got a call from my sister saying she was calling 911 for Mom. Mom’s speech was slurred, she got lost inside the house (a house she’s lived in since 1978), and wasn’t self correcting when she got stuck with her walker.

Yep. She was having another stroke.

Mom has been having mini-strokes (TIAs) since 2005. We’ve gotten used to spotting them. Her first good sized TIA was in 2008 – that’s what got me started with losing weight and being healthy back then. It was my wakeup call.

We met the ambulance at the closest Kaiser hospital with a stroke center. They were wonderful with her last TIA. But this time was different. The doctors didn’t seem to want to understand that her speech isn’t normally slurred, that she doesn’t normally get lost inside her own house, and that she’s normally aware enough of what she’s doing that she can call for help if her walker gets stuck somewhere. We had to argue because they said she seemed “fine”. I finally looked at the doctor and said “My mother doesn’t normally sound like she’s downed a 5th of whiskey. She doesn’t normally think she’s at Oak Knoll and living in Oakland. She doesn’t normally get lost on the way to the bathroom at home. This is not normal. We are not taking her home until we know she is stable.” Sometimes being the health care advocate and having Power of Attorney means being forceful.

Around 2am her memory showed improvement, but not her speech. My sister said that she felt like she could take care of mom if she were to go home. I didn’t see mom getting any worse, and she was in much better condition than she was during her last ER visit. So we took her home.

Mom doesn’t remember anything about last night and her speech is still slurred. She’s still having problems with walking. We know that she’ll show improvement over the next month until she reaches her new “normal.” We’re old hands at this, right?

Is it bad that I use my mom’s strokes as a reminder to live healthfully? Is it bad that I use them as a reminder to live life to the fullest? Probably not. But every time they happen I think of them as God’s little reminders; another kick in the pants to keep me going and to remember what’s important.

My mommy

My mom had another stroke on Sunday/Monday.  We’re pretty sure that it started on Sunday.  We took her to the ER and they sent us home because they couldn’t see anything wrong in her CT scan and blood work.  Monday my brother called 911 because she couldn’t tell that her left hand belonged to her.  They took her to the stroke center at Kaiser Fremont.  The ER doctors verified that she had an acute ischemic stroke, which has caused the brain to “neglect” the left side.

She’s doing better, but still has a lack of sensation and coordination with her left hand/arm.  Getting her out of bed is difficult; so far walking is impossible.  She’s much more awake and aware of her surroundings and she fed herself today.

After her last stroke we decided that it would be best to give me power of attorney over her medical decisions and my sister over her financial decisions.  On Monday I had to sign paperwork regarding resuscitation, feeding tubes, and breathing apparatuses.  It was heartbreaking.  Today I had to verify the paperwork that had already been signed.  It was so hard to read the decisions that had already been made and make sure that they follow along with mom’s wishes even though they go against my own.

I asked her roommate how mom did last night.  She said that mom kept calling for me and trying to get out of bed to find me.  Not my brother, not my sister… me.  Her roommate kept telling her that I had to go home and mom kept saying, “but Danie takes care of me, she remembers everything and she doesn’t get mad.”  Even though my siblings take care of her on a daily basis, she looks for me when she’s in distress.

She started yelling for me again today when I was on my way out to get lunch.  I felt so guilty leaving, but I can’t be there all the time.

My husband praises me for being so strong and loving.  He said today that seeing me at my mom’s side reminds him of why I’m the perfect woman for him.  I don’t know how much of this is strength because I’m weeping as I’m typing this.  I just do what needs to be done.  I call it being an adult, not being strong.

Time to dry my tears, blow my nose, and fix my makeup.  I told mom I’d be back to visit her in a little while – I don’t want to make a liar out of myself.

 

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