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!