Thursday, April 17, 2014

Life's Unexpected Challenges

There is nothing that happens in my life, and the lives of those that I love, that ever fails to convince me that this is not a world of illusion. A world where there are so many synchronistic events, and often endless challenges that just further teach us to rise above those challenges, to call forth our deep and 'true' nature, and to remain as centered as one can be.... when life turns upside down in a blink of an all see-ing eye.

Yesterday, at about 7 a.m. my husband had a stroke.
It began as a relatively normal morning. The kind where I am chattering too much as I've already been up for hours and hours by the time my husband gets up at 5 a.m. Where he tries to do his daily Sodoku inspite of the background commentary that I like to provide on the sunrise, the weather, the cats, the chickens, the extended family, or what terrible tragedies happened in the world while he was still sleeping, and I was not.

He seemed perfectly normal, and he left for work by 6:30 a.m....stopping at our son's house (they build super energy efficient homes together) for their daily carpooling commute.

By the time, our son had come out to get in the car, my husband knew that his face felt odd. He tried to say that he probably shouldn't drive and they should trade places. But the words came out completely garbled and unrecognizable.

They switched places and drove straight to the ER, calling me on the way (speakerphone paired). I told them he was probably having a stroke, to find an aspirin in the glove box to give him, and I would meet them there. 

Long story short, my husband was, indeed, having the first symptoms, and did indeed have, a stroke.

And strangely enough, it was a good thing they couldn't find the aspirin bottle in the car. He didn't get his first hospital aspirin to thin his blood for another 8 or 9  hours when he was finally sent up to a hospital room in neurology.

It turns out that in some cases, you don't want to thin your blood by taking an aspirin yet for fear of other things happening and he was one of those cases. Go figure. Again, things seem to happen for a reason and sometimes not happen for a reason.

Yes, his speech (lips, tongue, facial muscles that control those) has been affected by the stroke, but he was very, very fortunate. It was a surface level blood clot in the vessels of the brain that broke free to create the stroke and not a deep tissue clot ...or it could have been disastrously worse.

He had the full work up of CT scans, MRI, bloodwork, and countless repeated memory and various stroke tests to judge the extent of the damage. And get this, one test, the neurologist removed a simple, ordinary safety pin from the lapel of his white drs. coat to poke my husbands, arms, legs, face, hands etc. etc.

He has no paralysis or limb involvement, just facial,tongue, lips so brushing his teeth was a challenge, but he did find his mouth (and not the eye) with the food and later a toothbrush and he will be o.k. in a bit of time with some speech and physical therapy.

All three of our grown children were able to join us and lend their help and support and we ended up with a lot of family by the end of the day. He has a nice big room in the Neurology ward on the seventh floor of the hospital....with a view of our State Capitol building and its famous gold statue of a pioneer man.

We were voted the nicest family in the ER's entire day...they liked us so much that they kept us for  8 hours in two different ER rooms.  Read the ER room sign in the collage above and imagine just how some people must behave (we were voted the nicest family of the day) Hard to believe but true.... some families need to be asked to leave the hospital because they lack common sense and apparently there is no cure for that, yet.

As I told a friend, you never know "what shoe" will drop next. Even when you get dressed in a hurry to drive to the ER to meet your husband and son and don't notice you are wearing two different styles and colors of shoes. And you get to wear them all day and evening long. Turns out all of the nurses loved them, laughing at me raised everyone's spirits, and reminded me that sometimes, you have to take yourself, and everything else light-ly or life will just plain, pull you down with the seemingly endless challenges. And yes, I'm the one who finally noticed, got my husband to laugh by showing him my shoes, and made a point of showing everyone all day long to lighten the atmosphere of worry.

You do your best to not let it be a bigger challenge than you can deal with by making the very best of it that you can. You have to laugh as the silly things, be grateful for the good ones, and know you can handle the not so good ones a lot better than you think you can.

Think good thoughts that any remaining clots will naturally dissolve and that he will not have any more 'follow-up- strokes,  and that things will just get better and better.

Gosh, this is a strange and interesting, albeit challenging life! But oh, am I, for one, learning and learning, growing and growing, and getting stronger, and stronger, and stronger!

Now, to pick out a clean outfit for a new day, drive back to the hospital, and try not to wear the other set of the mis-matched pair to complete today's ensemble!

Michele Bilyeu blogs With Heart and Hands as she shares a quilting journey through her life in Salem, Oregon and Douglas, Alaska. Sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting, with small format art quilts, prayer flags, and comfort quilts for a variety of charitable programs. And best of all, sharing thousands of links to Free Quilt and Quilt Block Patterns and encouraging others to join her and make and donate quilts to charitable causes.   Help us change the world, one little quilt, art quilt, and prayer flag at a time!


  1. How fortunate for things to have occurred in the manner they did. Someone must have been watching over him.

    I hope his recovery goes well.

  2. Glad you still have your sense of humor. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family

  3. That is so funny about your shoes. Yes, you do have to laugh or it will just all be too much to bear. I'm so glad your husband is getting better and wish him a full recovery. Thanks for the inspiring words. I needed them today as we have been living through a series of problems one after another. I am thankful that it's nothing as bad as you have. I wish you and your family the best.

  4. Sending you hugs and many prayers Michele. May his treatment be miraculous.

  5. I am so sorry, Michele. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

  6. Hi Michele..Glad your husband is doing better and hope he has a quick recovery!!! Sending hugs and prayers to all.....

  7. I know the rules sound absurd and as if they would fall in the category of common sense, but.... My husband was in the hospital ER in March and we had as many as 9 people in the room with 2 young children. The nurse said we could have as many as we wanted as long as we couldn't be heard from the nurses station right across the corridor. At change of shift the new nurse came and was surprised that anyone was in the room. She was very gracious and said she wouldn't ask anyone to leave as long as we were quiet and his vitals stayed in line. The doctor who came in just complimented the 4 and 6 year old granddaughters on their manners. They don't care as long as there are no problems. The people 2 doors down had to have people leave twice because they were upsetting the guy with the probable heart attack. Logic did not prevail. So being voted the nicest family on the ward, is a great honor and speaks to the values of common sense and common courtesy.

  8. Better mis matched shoes than a matching stroke right!!! Count it all good and keep us posted :)

  9. Life sure has a way of turning ones life upside down. Hehe one does need lighter moments and your shoes did it. Hugs

  10. miracle after miracle and all good news in the end..I am so glad your family was able to gather round you and your husband at the hospital. thank you for taking the time to post and share with us. Being able to let love and laughter guide you through your life is such a blessing! I think you did great to be able to find your way to the hospital!!
    I will hold all of you in love and light Michele...gentle hugs

  11. How terrible that your husband had a stroke but how wonderful that you son was with him, that they were able to get to the hospital in a timely fashion and that he got wonderful care. You are all in my thoughts and I wish your husband a speedy recovery! The mismatched shoes sound like they lifted everyone's spirits, mine included. Take good care of yourself and your Mr.!

  12. I just read a passage..."We are all just walking each other home"...
    Such a blessing for you to have the gift to cherish still another day..
    I am hanging in there with you..hugs

  13. Your husband did indeed have a Angel on his shoulder
    I am so very sorry to that your Husband had a stroke.... What a shocking and horrible experience to go through. How lucky was he that he had your Son with him....
    I wish him a very speedy recovery.... And fingers crossed you don't need to run out of the house again in mis-matched shoes!
    My prayers and thoughts are with you all
    Hugs xx

  14. Bless all your hearts! Wishing strength & humor to all of you.

  15. So sorry to hear bout your husband's stroke, Michele. Hoping for a speedy recovery and he returns home soon.

  16. So thankful for all the good things that happened during your husband's stroke and that he will recover. Hospitals do appreciate the nice people and sounds like you are one! I don't believe there are coincidences in this world-everything happens for a reason. And the reason you had on two different shoes was for comic relief during a stressful time!