Life is Full of Changes
When I started this blogging adventure, I had it in my mind that it would be a place for fun, learning, exchanging ideas, and connecting with other parents. I did not plan for A Hesitant Housewife to be about my personal life but alas, Life is Full of Changes.
There have been many extremely stressful things that have been continuously piled on myself and my family over the past 1 ½ years.
I won’t go into too much detail but just to give you a small idea of what went down: We purchased a new home, updated and fixed our old home, became landlords, all while parenting a spirited 3-year-old and managing my dad’s rental property. None of these difficult and exhausting events would compare to what was coming around the bend.
One of the Hardest Days of My Life
It was a Tuesday like any other Tuesday. My dad had called me to discuss something about his rental property. We spoke briefly about the issue and then I asked the routine question of how he was doing. He responded with, “Not so well. I’ve been having trouble reading lately. Sometimes it’s hard for me to follow a conversation. Even dialing a phone is getting a little hard. I’m not sure what’s going on with me.”
As I stood at my bedroom window overlooking our beautiful new back yard, taking in the changing colors of the autumn trees – my heart felt like it was going to pound out of my chest and I immediately began to sweat and shake.
Dad didn’t believe me when I told him that I believed he was having a stroke (his second in eleven years). He wouldn’t let me call him an ambulance because he was so worried about the cost. He even mentioned waiting for a couple of days because he had two important clients coming in the following day.
After completely losing my patience with him, he finally agreed to allow me to pick him up and take him to the emergency room. He was admitted immediately and hours later, my worst fear was confirmed – he had suffered a significant ischemic stroke in the left side of his brain.
Ischemic stroke is when an obstruction (clot) prevents blood from getting to a part of the brain. Hemorrhagic stoke is when a weakened blood vessel ruptures and spills blood into the brain. Ischemic stokes are much more common than hemorrhagic – about 87% of all strokes ( Stroke Awareness Foundation).
I remember sitting in his private room of the ER, waiting for the results of his MRI and thinking about how all of our lives were about to change, forever.
I vividly remember seeing the doctor approach, his shadow looming for a few moments behind the privacy glass and thinking – these are the last moments that my life will be anywhere near normal for a very long time.
Things Will Never Be the Same
The hospital sent him by ambulance at 2 AM to another hospital that had a specialized stroke center. Following in my car, running only on adrenaline and fear at this point, my mind took me down every dark path that you can imagine.
Will he need around the clock care? Will he have to live in a memory care unit? Is he still in danger of dying? Will my dad be the same kind, loving, funny guy after this? What about his house, his business?
After many tests, they told us that he was lucky to be alive. The stroke had happened 10-14 days prior to him calling me. Dad could have easily suffered subsequent stokes or had bleeding in his brain. He was a very, very lucky man.
Dad stayed in the hospital for nearly two weeks where he received intensive speech, occupational, and physical therapy three times per day. After discharge, he went to a rehabilitation center for another three weeks where he continued daily intensive therapy.
I went to see him every day and each evening he and I would do “homework”, which mostly consisted of brain games, playing card and board games, reading, and writing. All of these things were critical in getting his brain to rewire itself around the injury.
The doctors all gave us a pretty grim outlook for the future. They said he may never be able to read or write again. That he would be unable to manage his own household tasks, finances, or activities of daily living. They said he could not live on his own.
He moved in with my family and we slowly began to find our new normal. Every day he would surprise me. His memory improved, his “homework” became too easy and I routinely had to find more difficult tasks for him to do, his reading was very slowly recovering as well.
Three days a week I would drive 128 miles per day to take him to run his business. The other days he would stay with his girlfriend and/or roommate at his house. To say it was an exhausting time in my life would be a huge understatement.
The plan was for us to continue this routine until we could get his house on the market and downsize his business. Life, however, had something else in mind for us.
Stress Around Every Turn
On a cold, snowy Minnesota day, just one left turn away from dropping my dad at work, we were struck from behind by a full size SUV going 55 MPH or more. It felt like a bomb went off inside of our car.
We were transported by ambulance to the same hospital where I took my dad on that terrifying evening in September. Thankfully, the air bags and car seat (with a 5 point harness) did their jobs very well. I walked away with whiplash, dad got 5 stitches in his scalp, and while my son was completely terrified, he was physically unharmed. Our car, on the other hand, did not fare so well.
The first car that we ever bought brand new and had only put 27,000 miles on, was totaled. I was left unable to drive because of my neck and PTSD from the accident. Because dad had to be able to get to work, he moved back home where he has been ever since.
The good news in this long story is that my dad has made huge strides and has totally proven all of the doctors wrong. He truly has blown us all away.
I am not at all embarrassed to admit that I have been in therapy since shortly after the car accident. I had to find a way to cope with all of the overwhelming stress and the PTSD before I ended up totally breaking down.
As my life is slowly normalizing and I am coming back to physical and mental health, I hope to go back to a regular posting schedule. That being said, the overall objective of this blog may shift a bit, as my own objectives have surely shifted.
I still want my content to focus on cooking, crafts, parenting, keeping a home, and the connections that I have with my readers. However, I now feel like there may need to be a bit of the personal side of my life as well.
Life is Full of Changes and all we can do is roll with the punches and do our best to adapt and overcome.
Thank you for waiting for me and for reading.
For more information on strokes, their symptoms, and how to prevent them, please visit: The National Stroke Association.