03 June 2016

Once Upon a Thursday Morning

8am, Thursday, 26 May 2016…It was a morning that I will never forget.

The alarm went off and David made the morning wake up call to our youngest daughter down on the island. She said, "I'm up. I'm good" and hung up. He didn't get a chance to speak at that point. He tried to stand up, and couldn't. When he tried to speak, it was as if he'd been pitching a drunk all night. He was very slurry and hard to understand. Laynie checked his blood sugar level, just in case it was crashing. It was about 195 or so, so he wasn't crashing. She aborted mission on the candy bar.

He had to go to the bathroom, but could not walk unsupported. Laynie and I did our best to get him to the bathroom and onto the toilet. It wasn't easy when he had jelly legs at this point and he's a pretty tall guy. As he sat there, his speech cleared up and he said that he did not need to go to the ER after all. He thought it was just some fluke and that he was okay. By the time he was finished and he tried to stand again, we know for sure that, no, he was not okay.

He was majorly slurry and jelly-legged again. At some point, he ended up on the floor just outside the bathroom. Laynie and I got ready to take him out to the car and to drive him to the ER. She put her little foot down and said, "I don't care what you want. I'm calling the ambulance," and she did just that. He fell while we were in the carport and fell onto me. We couldn't get him back up. The rescue people got him up and walked him to the stretcher. At this point, he was sweating buckets and said it was very hot.

His blood pressure was extremely high, about 230/120. We requested that the ambulance take him to Oakbend at Williams Way and not to the Wharton hospital. They said they couldn't take him to Wharton even if they had wanted to because ambulances were being diverted from that hospital (this hospital is basically dead and not many that go there make it out alive these days). Anyway, they were taking him to Oakbend at Jackson Street. I had (and still have) no clue where that hospital is. The ambulance driver gave me directions to it. Laynie rode in the ambulance and I followed in the car. I had to make an unavoidable stop along the way, which was good because this stop is where Laynie was able to reach me on my phone. They had been diverted from the original hospital (Oakbend at Jackson Street) to the Oakbend at Williams Way. Thank goodness, because I knew exactly how to get there!

I made it to the hospital and he was in the ER. They had already done a CT scan and were working on some other things like blood tests and waiting for the CT scan results. This original CT scan showed a suspected, but unconfirmed stroke. He was very cold at this point. His eyes were wide open and very glassy looking. He was snoring, but looking very wide awake and so very confused. It was quite unnerving.

He was admitted to the hospital, first to Room 333. By the time he was admitted, it was just past lunch time and he hadn't even had breakfast, which put him in danger of a very low blood sugar. I was afraid that he wouldn't be able to get lunch and that they'd police any food coming in. Thankfully, we were able to order lunch for him. He had swallowing problems the first couple of times that he ate, so every meal that I ordered him after that had to be squishy or very soft stuff, nothing crunchy or very chewy.

Friday was, for the most part, all a blur until evening. He went for an MRI and was only able to withstand the first part of the first one. He was scheduled for three. He buzzed for the technician to get him out of the thing. He didn't hear her responding that we were coming. His back was in horrendous pain. He panicked when he thought she wasn't coming. He had to quit pressing the button on the emergency switch before she could stop her machine, but he couldn't hear her saying anything because of the alarm. I understood his panic completely as I ended up starting to crawl out of the MRI tube that I was in once. Those things are a nightmare for people with claustrophobia. Anyway, we got him out. This technician was a real card, too. She was bound and determined to do things that were my place to do and was very snatchy. Of all the people there, she is one that I most wanted to slap. I mean, really, she wouldn't even let me put a blanket across his shoulders while he was in the wheelchair. SHE had to be the one to do it. And, although I was the one that wheeled him down to the MRI room, suddenly I had become incompetent and could not wheel him back to his room. I figured I hadn't killed him going down there; it was highly unlikely that I'd kill him taking him back to the room. Whatever.

We got a whopper of a storm that night and could hear water leaking in the room somewhere. Though it wasn't actually coming into the room, it was leaking on the ceiling tiles just outside the bathroom door with a nice little "tick, tick, tick" like someone left a clock in the ceiling. They moved him to another room before the ceiling tiles decided to break loose and create a bigger falling hazard for everyone. He was moved to Room 344, where he spent the rest of his stay.

That night, we Skyped with Maggie and Davey. Laynie had a headache and the weather was interfering with her internet connection, so didn't get to join us. After Davey had to leave to go eat, we continued talking with Maggie. She called David's mother to let her know about the stroke, but her connection was bad so she didn't understand completely what Maggie was telling her. Maggie also tried to call David's sister, but just got her voice mail.

Update (I really do not know how I missed this part in the original post!): 
By Friday evening, David had decided that he was leaving on Saturday by 11:59am (check-out time is noon there), with or without the doctor's approval. I shared this with the kids early Saturday morning. Davey asked about calling his dad. Davey is a US Marine stationed over 7000 miles away in Japan.

The phone rang and I handed it to David.  It was Davey. The United States Marine Corps ordered David to 'stay in place' until the doctor released him or else. The 'or else' was that, if he didn't, our son would not be allowed to go on the ship that they've assigned him to be on. So, David had a direct order from Davey's chain of command to stay put in that hospital until he was told that he could leave.  I half expected to walk into the hallway to find a Marine guard posted there. :) It was a good thing that they made this order. You'll see why in the next paragraph.
End of Update

Saturday was a hectic day. David's mother called to check on him and to get clarification about what Maggie had been trying to tell her. David was awake, so I let her talk to him. Toward the end of the conversation with her, he got all slurry again and that same look in his eyes. He'd had another stroke. They took him down for another CT scan, which confirmed a second stroke. Later Saturday evening, he had yet another one for a total of three that we know of.

Sunday was a pretty uneventful day as far as stroke activity is concerned. Blood sugar levels were another story entirely. Here is what I messaged to a friend that morning:

"His blood sugar was dropping. He asked me to get them to check his blood sugar level. I stepped out of the room and told the CNA…

She said she would do it. I came back into the room. She didn't come. So, I went back out to find the nurse…

In the meantime, I gave him a cup of pears left over from supper. Then, a candy bar. Then, I went back out and neither of these nurses was headed this way. There was a guy nurse for another patient near this room…

I asked him to check it and he got up right away to look for the machine to do it. In the meantime, the nurse and CNA finally came to check it. It was at 49, which is critically low…

And that was after the pears and half the candy bar. They straight lined sugar to him through the IV. Now, his sugar level is high, but that is to be expected after sugar straight to the vein. So, the high I am not mad about. Their lack of urgency is what ticked me off and some of my granny showed up to greet their incompetence.

I was so mad I was crying and that makes me even madder. I'm sure the folks downstairs could hear me, too, because I was not using an inside voice.

I could have given them a trip through those nice big windows!

Line 9 on their promises chart says they will help as soon as you need help. Bull cookies!

I know it was during shift change, but a patient should take priority over the reports during an emergency situation.

They kept saying they were sorry. I asked them what good their "sorry" was going to do when they put him in the ground.

They said, "He isn't in the ground." I said your incompetence is going to put him there.

What if low blood sugars cause another one, maybe even a massive one? It would be on them and so would I!

That was all at about 7am. He is off the insulin pump now and back on shots."

Things finally calmed down a bit after a little while, but any trust I had thought to have in them was totally shot at this point. They started him on a sliding scale with medium dose insulin. His blood sugar levels remained over 300 for the rest of the day and throughout the night. They did not want to give anything to counteract the highs because of the way that medium insulin releases itself and does its job (which, by my way of thinking, it wasn't doing its job or he wouldn't have been so high).

We Skyped with Laynie and Maggie for awhile on Sunday afternoon, but other than that, David spent most of the day sleeping or, rather, trying to sleep much as he had the other days. The hospital is NOT the place to get any rest at all.

I believe it was Sunday that the physical therapy people came to check on him. The guy had him squeeze his hands as hard as he could. He evidently squeezed them really hard because the guy went behind the curtain and shook out his hand.

We were under the impression that he would be discharged on Tuesday. His primary doctor came by to see him on Monday and he also evaluated David's left side strength. He told David to squeeze his hands as hard as he could. Now, David held back any time the female nurses asked him to do this because he knew he would hurt them. Most of them were on the small side and he didn't want to break them. His doctor is an average-sized guy, so he didn't hold back. He made his doctor say, "Ouch! You are too qualified for a rehab center." So, he didn't have to go to a rehab center and he was discharged Monday afternoon to come home.

We are diligently seeking to improve our diet which will help us both to lose weight and clean out his arteries, hoping to avoid another stroke. I understand from things that I've read that during the next month especially, he is at an increased likelihood of having another one, and his chances are higher for the rest of his life because #1 he is a diabetic and #2 because he has had a stroke now. We can reduce that risk by doing a major overhaul on his health and lifestyle choices.

Know the signs and act quickly. FAST is the acronym to remember for strokes.

Face - Facial paralysis or drooping
Arm weakness - May not be able to lift arms completely or lift them to the same level.
Speech difficulties - Speech may be slurred and they may not understand you.
Time to act fast!

Resources for more information:
National Stroke Association
American Stroke Association 
Stroke Foundation of Australia

One of the commenters on my last post mentioned the following book and I thought that I would share it with all of you. It sounds like it would be a very interesting book to read! This is an affiliate link, so if you click this link and purchase this book, you will be helping to support our family as we carry on with life after a multiple stroke episode. Thank you!

Please visit David's blog to read his stroke post at: Many Strokes Fell Great Oaks.


  1. God bless you both dear. I totally understand, praying for David.

    1. Thank you for the prayers for David, Denise. May Our Father bless you, too.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Have a blessed weekend!


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