Vacation and Strokes

Hi everyone. I really don’t have the time to be writing this but I thought I’d just let everyone know I am finally back from my “vacation”. I don’t know what planet I was on when I thought this trip was going to be relaxing and fun.

OK, there were a couple of bright spots at the beginning, in Tennessee. Spending time with my sister Lois, my niece Tiffy the rest of the family and Tiffy’s new beau; going to Dixie Stampede with my mom’s best friend; a half-day on the lake with the jetskis (even though it resulted in a sunburn for me); going to see Star Wars Episode III with Tiffy and Nate. Dollywood would have been fun, but the heat was too much for my sweet Lola, so Hubby and I had to leave early and head back to our hosts’ home for a few hours.

The second half of our trip was in Panama City, Florida, to attend my sisters’ wedding. It seemed we were busy the whole time running around taking care of other people. Hubby and I never got into the swimming pool, hot tub, and only got on the beach once and that was for after-the-wedding photos. OH! And we had “Tropical Storm Arlene” while we were there. But if I had had the chance, I still would have spent some time on the beach if I had time. But I didn’t. It took more time than I realized to help get the wedding in order, since we had to move it inside because of the wedding. Plus, even if I didn’t take Lola with me wherever we went, I had to go running back to the hotel to feed her every so often, because I couldn’t seem to pump enough milk; Lola was cleaning out the supplies every time we nursed. Obviously in a growth spurt.

The wedding was nice and my sister was very happy. So that was good. But there was a lot of drama involving my dad while everyone was down there.

Then, on the way home from Florida, about one hour south of Cincinnati, I got a phone call from my sister. My dad had just had a stroke and they were taking him to the hospital. This was Monday afternoon the 13th. We drove as fast as we could to Cincinnati and went straight to the hospital. What greeted me there broke my heart. The right side of his body was completely paralyzed, and he was desperately trying to talk to all of us, but the words just came out in an incoherent jumble. He looked so scared and vulnerable, and one should never seen one’s father that way.

There were brain scans, and blood draws and a lot of waiting. Let’s see, there was me, Hubby, Lola, Princess, my mom, my brother Stu and his wife, my brother Bri, my sister T, my cousins Kim, Teresa and her kids, Cynthia. After a while Lola was getting VERY cranky, so my oldest brother Stu sent Hubby & I home with his wife. We had just walked into their house when the phone rang. We were told they think Dad is dying, we need to come back.

So we did. By the time we got back, his condition had stablized and they weren’t sure now what was going on.

And thus, it has been the last few days.

My dad was in ICU until yesterday night. He is no longer in critical condition so they have moved him to a regular room, and in a few days he will be moved to the rehabilitation department. He is getting a little easier to understand, he definitely understands what is being said to him, definitely knows what has happened and what is going on, and he is getting movement back in his right arm and leg. After they made sure he could eat (thickened liquids and very soft solids only), I helped him eat lunch on Wednesday. I speared the food on the fork for him and he lifted the fork to his mouth. The only problem is the right side of his face is still paralyzed and he can’t feel the food on that side of his mouth. We have to make sure he actually swallows all the food, or he could aspirate or choke.

There are definitely some issues. He has verbal and oral apraxia as a result of the stroke. I found this definition of it on a website:

Apraxia is a motor disorder in which volitional or voluntary movement is impaired without muscle weakness. The ability to select and sequence movements is impaired. [CG: Dad was told “Rub your nose and then tap your knee.” He rubbed his forehead and then rubbed his stomach. Basically, following given directions is difficult for him.] Oral apraxia affects one ability to move the muscles of the mouth for non-speech purposes. Someone with oral apraxia would have trouble coughing, swallowing, wiggling their tongue or blowing a kiss when asked to do so. Verbal apraxia, or apraxia of speech is an impairment in the sequencing of speech sounds.

After the doctor told us that he is going to make it this time, and is slowly recovering, Hubby and I had to come home. We drove home Wednesday night. Thursday was filled with phone calls from my dad’s current wife, from whom he is separated. Dad was able to communicate to us that he did not want to see her, and that he wanted us to take care of him and his affairs. After a lot of crap, the patient advocate came in to see dad. My dad signed a Power of Attorney and some other paperwork designating my mom (his first wife) and my oldest brother as his advocates. I know it is strange for a man to pick his ex-wife for that, but they were married almost 40 years. They divorced because of my dad’s alcoholism, and because of his affair with this current wife. My dad still loves my mom and really wanted to get back with her since the split, but my mom wanted peace in her life. She still cares for my dad deeply and so he knows she will look out for his best interests.

Needless to say, the other wife isn’t happy about it. I have always been kind to her so she kept calling me all day, even though I had no control over the situation. They haven’t been living together for a year and a half. I don’t know why she would expect to keep control of his finances, etc. Crazy.

It’s been a stressful week, and I’m still worrying about what will happen to my dad next. He will need constant care, and it looks like my mom will be the one providing it. I am worried about her and her iffy health. I don’t know if she will be able to handle it.

OK, that’s enough of an update. Lola just woke up, and also we need to go shopping for father’s day presents for Hubby.

I can’t wait until there’s a stretch of time where things will calm down.

See ya later.

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