Easter 2007 started off like any other holiday...
My parents and I went to the Easter Sunday service at church. After that we went home to change then headed to my grandma's for her annual Easter lunch and egg hunt. On the way to my grandma's, my dad and I were talking about how we were going to wire a lamp I was making in wood shop (because yes, I took 3 years on wood shop in high school). Everything was going perfectly normal.
Once at my grandma's, my dad began to not feel well but didn't tell anyone. We knew something was up when he decided to not help hide eggs and instead began to fall asleep on the couch. He claimed he was just coming down with a cold or something. He spent most of the day there napping with my 1 month old nephew sleeping on his chest. It wasn't until we were about to leave that my dad wasn't looking so well and my mom and sister made the decision to take him to the hospital.
Upon arrival at the hospital, my dad told the triage nurse that he had a bad headache and for part of the afternoon was having vision problems. They then rushed him back into a room and started to perform tests.
After a few hours of waiting, the doctor came to talk to my mom and I and told us news we we're not prepared to hear...
"He is in the middle of having a major brain stem stroke and we can tell by the scan
that he's had a few mini strokes in the past. Unfortunately, there isn't
anything we can do for him except let it run it's course."
My heart broke.
Was my dad going to die? He's only 55 years old. He still needed to be around to see me graduate in a few months, to walk me down the aisle, to see his grandkids grow up...
If he pulls through, will he ever walk again? Feed himself? Tell us he loves us?
FACT: The brain stem controls all of our vital functions for survival. A brain stem stroke may effect breathing, heart beat and blood pressure, as well as hearing, speech and swallowing. A stroke in this area can also create paralysis as messages need to get through the brain stem on the way to the rest of the body.
As my mom sat with him, I had to make the phone calls. Having to call someone with bad news and not knowing the outcome was difficult and with every call, the tears were streaming down my face.
My dad is a strong man though and he proved it that day.
He ended up spending days in the hospital - which made my day consist of going to school, going straight to the hospital to sit with him, going to EMT class, then home. At night I could hear my mom in her bedroom crying and I couldn't help but cry myself. Luckily, he was able to come home from the hospital and didn't need any rehabilitation.
The affects of the stroke will always be with him. The balance issues, the vision problems, the constant ringing in his ears... But he is still here with us.
This Sunday marks exactly 5 years. He was able to watch me graduate from high school and next year will be walking me down the aisle. I couldn't be more grateful. My parents are the two wonderful people and I can't imagine my life without either of them.
Every day, take the time to tell the ones close to you that you love them.