It’s kind of hard to write this but in the wee hours of the morning Tuesday my husband had a stroke. This one is worse than the event he had last June. After the ambulance rolled him into the hospital and the whole stroke protocol kicked in, it was clear this one was a bad one. My husband couldn’t move himself from one side of the bed to the other. His cognitive functions were perfectly fine but his body wouldn’t move. His one eye had taken on a life of its own. It was rolling and his face was hanging on one side. I had a very hard time understanding what he was saying. The doctors did their thing, MRI, CT, blood thinners, the works.
By the next morning, my husband was much better. He could roll himself over. He had substantial weakness in his left hand, just as it had been previously affected only worse. His left leg was weak too. His eye was still rolling around like Alister Mad Eye Moody for those of you into Harry Potter. It was making him see double and he kept making me want to laugh because it looked so funny. Miraculously, his face was no longer drooping and he could speak understandably.
The specialists were called in. The entire sequence of the six CTs and the two MRIs were compared and the whole history reviewed. The conclusion was last June he had a small stroke in his pons region and that was independent of the carotid artery dissection. That stroke in the pons region was minor and he healed up very well. This second stroke again has nothing to do with the healed carotid artery dissection. There is something going on in his pons region. It is likely some kind of genetic issue with his blood vessels, a weakness that caused both the dissection and the first small stroke and the one he just had. As to what it is, we don’t know and we probably never will. Most likely it’s a stroke that is going to kill him one day, maybe soon, maybe not.
By 48 hours after the stroke my husband had again improved markedly. He could now sit up in bed unassisted. His eye was now mostly back where it should be though he was still seeing double. If he concentrated on it, he could force both eyes to focus. The staff of OT and physio were all talking about an extended stay in rehab after weeks in hospital but he fooled them. He improved so markedly that by afternoon he was able to use a walker to get to the toilet and use it and get back to bed without any more assistance other than them hovering over him fretting anxiously about him falling. I had told him he couldn’t come home unless he could get to the bathroom and use it by himself, get up the stairs and get in and out of the truck. Now the most important one was done.
This morning he was once again markedly improved. Today we went to the shower and he bathed with only minimal assistance while sitting down. I did his back and feet. He did all the rest. The whole bed to stand to walker/transfer to the wheelchair thing was easy for him as his balance is rapidly coming back. The Mad Eye Moody look was mostly gone. The OT and Physio people were just shaking their heads over him because he kept saying he was going home Friday. He insisted he would show them he was ready to go up and down stairs and they finally reluctantly agreed to let him try and he did it. Then he did it again three more times just to show them. Second goal met. He is doing so well the doctors decided he should go home. This is turning out to be less of a full on major stroke and more of minor stroke to a transient ischemic episode in terms of outcome at this point. The doctors know our home is already pretty much set up for dealing with walkers and such from last June’s event. They also know I have a lot of supports. Finally, because with COVID19 thing is about to break in our area, the more people out of the hospital the better.
Today I went shopping and bought special bathroom support assists like a sit down thing for the shower. We already had safety bars and such. I bought a bolt on toilet support. I bought him a walker. I rented a wheelchair. If he keeps improving like he is doing he won’t need them in a few weeks. We’ll see how it goes. I am hoping we can give them to someone less fortunate in a few months. On the other hand I might keep them, just in case.
Right after the stroke, once I could leave the ER and go home, I drove trying to resist the urge to just keep driving forever. I thought how I couldn’t do this. I am not up to being caregiver again just after having him back as he was before. Visions of nursing homes and drooling and adult diapers made me want to weep. After a good nights sleep I was ready to go back. His remarkable improvement made me feel a lot better. He said he wanted to die when he couldn’t even roll over. So he knew what I was going through only for him it was even worse because it was his body. Fortunately, it turns out we’re not there just yet.
So what does the future hold? We don’t know. All I do know is the man I love is still there. His body is getting a bit battered but he’s still there. That’s the only thing that matters. I don’t know how much time he has left with me. None of us know. His mother had multiple small strokes, made near miraculous recoveries after each one and lived to age 97. Maybe he’s following her example and that’s what we are in for. Time will tell. For today he’s not dead yet. I’m taking him home tomorrow.