I woke up early this morning and was going to go back to sleep but the things that happened over the past year have been going through my mind. There are really rough times in this blog, but also good things which outweigh the rough so read both blogs to get to the positive and the whole picture. But to tell the story I have to tell it all. Besides, even if no one reads these it is therapeutic for me.
One year ago today, October 31, 2013, I got up early and went for a walk for a few miles. I got home, and helped get my 3grandkids (1 by youngest daughter and 2 by older daughter.) ready for school. My daughters had a lot of problems and I was trying to make sure the grandkids were taken care of. Long story but I'll leave it at that. After they got ready, I drove the 3 grandkids to the elementary school where they go. A 4th grandchild, who was almost 14 then, also lived with us but was out of town. We were supposed to leave right after I took the younger ones to school. She was 2 hours away in a different city and was getting out of a treatment center there. I felt okay that morning. When I got home from taking them to school my oldest daughter said she was almost ready. I went to get some cottage cheese from the fridge to eat quickly before we left. I turned again to the fridge and opened in and suddenly got hit by very severe dizzines. I remember I couldn't even let go of the door of it and could sit or lie down. I had to ask my daughters to help me. Then I got really sick every time I tried to move or open my eyes. I thought it would pass in a few minutes. I felt a slow headache creeping from the back of my head up to the top. I thought it was my position because I often had problems like that. But this was worse than usual. I tried to move a little to stop it but it didn't help. My daughters kept asking me if I wanted them to call an ambulance but I said to wait. One told me I couldn't drive that 2 hour one way drive. After about 10 minutes when it didn't go away I told them to call 911 and tell the operator I wa having a stroke. Somehow I knew that although I didn't have the drooping on one side or speech problems or other typical signs of a stroke. Once the paramedics got there (we lived in a small town about 5 minutes from the hospital where they were stationed) I remember one telling me that my blood pressure was some 260 over something (never remembered the bottom number) which was extremely high for me. After that I don't remember anything.
I woke up a few days later and I was in Phoenix, AZ in the hospital. It was 6 ½ or more hours by car from where I lived in southern New Mexico. My oldest son was there with his wife. They had come from Texas over there. I have vague memories or that time. I don't know if it was the stroke or the meds or both. I was on heavy painkillers as well as all the other meds they had me on. I had a tube in my head to drain blood since I had a brain bleed with the stroke. Apparently if I had been flown to Albuquerque instead of Phoenix I would have had a drainage tube from my head to my stomach to drain off fluid which would have been much longer, if not the rest of my life. It would have caused much more complications with incontinence, infections, and other things. But the ER doctor in Silver City, the rural town I lived in, knew about what was being done in Phoenix. I had hair about to my shoulder blades and often wore it in a pony tail. There was a good sized patch cut very very short for the drain tube to be put in but the rest was still as long. Until the drain came out they couldn't wash or comb it and had tied it out of the way with some hair ties. It was matted and ugly. The drain tube came out after 11 days. I have to have frequent CT scans before it came out. They always did it between about 1 am and 5 am. Why do they have to wake you up in the middle of the night to take you to CT LOL? Once the drain came out I asked my son and DIL if they knew of someone who could cut my hair but they didn't. But a nurse happened to be in the room that said she could do it for me. So I had it cut really really short to even it up. I didn't want anyone to try to comb or wash my hair long because it was so awful and it made my head hurt just to think about it. I did get accidentally called a man a few times by techs until they realized I was a woman because my hair was so short. I had colored my hair for years and now it was gray because it was so short and just the roots. Here is a picture taken then of how short it was!
See how short it was! I also didn't want part of my hair long and part almost gone. This picture was taken to send to the school counselor at my grandkids elementary school because she and I had several conversations about the kids. The last day they saw me I took them to school and everything seemed okay and by the time they got home I was gone She wanted a picture to show them and reassure them. The day after the tube came out I was moved from intensive care to the next step down. Still had a private room in the step-down room which was nice! I had to walk with a walker then and could barely get around. It was a major job just to go to the bathroom! I had therapy in my room some and they made me get out and walk with the therapist in the hall which seemed so major. I was still very dizzy and nauseous then and turning over in bed was also a major task. Amazing how we take the simplest things for granted!
When I was going to be moved from that room to another area for inpatient therapy that was more intensive, my son asked if I could be moved to Dallas which is about an hour from where they lived, instead of so far away. My DIL has worked as a flight nurse on helicopters for a medical service, and by then was a nurse practitioner. They finally agreed, and on November 21 I was moved by commercial airline from Phoenix to Dallas since she came to be with me and take care of me on the flight. I was in the brain injury hospital from Nov 21 until release on Dec 3rd. I did get a 6 hour pass for Thanksgiving and my son took me to his in-laws' house for dinner. That was very nice. I had about 4 hours a day of therapy there with physical, occupational, speech, and recreational therapy. I was never sure when they would get me from my room. They had a schedule, which changed daily but I didn't have one. But it was still nice.
In the process of the ambulance my glasses got broken. I had a lot of trouble with my eyes because of the stroke and dizziness but it was also made worse by not having my glasses. I did have my computer prescription glasses, but I had so much trouble I couldn't use them much. Between leaving the hospital and checking into the hospital in Dallas was a short window once we landed but enough to get my eyes checked by a doctor not far from the hospital and get new glasses which I got a couple of days later when my DIL picked them up. I could only wear them for a little while, but then as time went on I was able to wear them more and it was so good to be able to see clearly again!