The Anatomy Of A Stroke [Month 2]

I get messages most days asking about my dad. I generally reply saying things are progressing well, but slowly, and had intended to make this generalised update over the weekend – exactly two months after suffering his stroke [19th December].

But, suddenly, in a moment, everything changes…

Last week one of dad’s physio sessions decamped to the local golf driving range; a new experience for both girls supporting him, whose first job, after placing the basket under the wrong delivery chute, was to roll around scrabbling to pick up the 50 balls now randomly bouncing around the hard-stone-floor corridor. Considerable hilarity ensued. I wish I’d witnessed that. And to highlight my dad’s often twisted perspective, he later bemoaned his apparent loss of form without a shred of irony!

Other than that, the last few weeks have mainly been characterised by the inching forward in hand mobility and walking distance; the sheer tiredness associated with the mental and physical effort; and the small tremor in his hand, which the support staff believe is likely to be a combination of working it so hard, coupled with his own sense of anxiety and frustration.

Everything changes…

Early yesterday afternoon my step-mum was set to go to the supermarket and dad happily decides he’s fit and well enough to go, too. His first return to routine mundanity; now a genuine challenge.

Apparently he tired quite quickly. My step-mum told him to go and sit down. He wouldn’t. Eventually, at the checkout, he admitted to feeling quite unwell. They got back to the car with him ‘wobbling all over the place’. Now a little concerned, my step-mum returned to the shop and asked if there were any first-aiders present. No less than four of them swiftly descended on the car and immediately called the emergency services.

The rapid-response paramedic arrived. ‘He was the strangest colour. His lips looked almost blue and he said he couldn’t see anything.’ The problem wasn’t obvious, but she wasn’t happy with the ECG trace, so an ambulance was called and off they went to A&E.

Time dragged on. Five hours later, amidst a hectic A&E with people on beds in corridors, and the ECG monitoring had revealed nothing. Dad was feeling better – though exhausted – and asked to go home. He was disconnected from all the wires and traces, slowly got dressed, and was pulling on his coat as the doctor approached, “I’m sorry. You’re not going anywhere…” The blood tests showed some abnormal results which suggest a problem with his heart.

24 hours later and the cardiologist still isn’t entirely sure what the problem is. Three men are next to each other in beds at the end of the ward, currently grouped together as ‘Mystery’. He’ll definitely be there all weekend now, with little further investigation likely before Monday.

I think he’s beginning to crave much less drama and mystery and considerably more mundanity. We all are.

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