When my mom had a mild stroke almost five weeks ago, I turned Lou and said, “I think I need to blog through this. It will help me. And maybe it will help someone else.”
Jesus. I’m really glad I didn’t.
First of all, now that my mom is walking on her own, fixing meals, and completing chores, it seems like a real whiny thing to do. Writing about my “struggles” during this experience is insulting to anyone who has had to endure a normal or severe stroke. Heck, it’s insulting to describe MY struggles at all. I’m not the one who can’t use her left hand.
Five weeks ago, however, I didn’t know everything would be okay. I completely lost the ability to imagine improvement. I guess that’s why they call it a crisis.
But things have improved. Including my attitude. And to celebrate, I’m capturing some of this crazy business in a list.
Ten Things About My Mom’s Stroke (in no particular order)
1. “Don’t freak out.” That was the lede when Brother #1 called to tell me mom was in the ER. I didn’t freak out. Not until much later.
2. My freak out. On her first night in the hospital, she assured us all that we should go home to sleep in our own beds. Lou, after picking up takeout for me, scooped me up from the hospital to take me home. By the time I arrived home, I was sobbing hysterically. Lou simply gathered a few things for me then drove me all the way back to the hospital so I could spend the night with Mom.
3. I ate a sandwich. This, in itself, is not memorable. But when you eat a sandwich on the drive back to the hospital mid-freak-out, it’s quite a sight. Sobbing with tears and boogers streaming, I moaned, “Why the FUCK did this happen?!?!” over and over. Meanwhile, I was shoving a sandwich in my mouth as avocado and tomato slices slid out from between the bread. I picked up the avocado slices with my fingers and ate them. I didn’t have a napkin. (This item would also make my list of top five most unattractive moments of my entire life.)
4. I forgot. Lou tells me that in the days following the stroke, he managed to sneak me away one morning for a hike on North Mountain. I have absolutely no memory of this. None.
5. Hair is down. When I arrived with Lou and Brother #3 in the hospital, Mom’s hair was down. Gray, wavy, and thick, it covered most of the pillow. She always wears her hair in a french braid because she hates having it in her face. As soon as we walked in, she burst into tears. Then she asked me to braid her hair.
6. I learned how to french braid. “Who did your braid?” I asked Mom the other day. I figured it was her friend, Sammie (the other frequent braider). “You did,” my mom answered. I felt proud. It was a fine braid.
7. Mom squeezed my hand. On day one, her left hand couldn’t do anything. One morning during week three (or so) I put my hands in hers. She looked me right in the eyes, scrunched her brow, and squeezed my hand. I squealed.
8. Spring training. Mom spent two weeks at Scottsdale Osborn Hospital. While I stared out her window, endless families flooded the streets to watch spring training baseball games. They were wearing ridiculous hats, drinking beer (or whatever), hopping in pedi-cabs, and having a blast. I was in hell. But I was happy for them.
9. I became a lady. Sorry to be gross, but this was total bullshit. The day of the stroke, I unexpectedly got my “lady-times” while we were all at the hospital. Whatever!
10. I got mad. I wish I could tell you that I handled this entire thing with grace, love, and patience. I didn’t. Not even close. But I’m not ready to write about that yet.