Friday, 29 September 2017

Persistence

I think I've mentioned that I had a few more stories about my dad and his life-changing stroke (click here) and the years following it, and that some of the stories were quite funny. And also that I should write them down, to make sure I remembered the smiles as well as the sadness.

So, here's one. It's from the very beginning of his stroke journey.

My dad was living with his lady friend at the time. In her words, "he moved in after his heart operation [a few years prior to that] and never moved out." He hadn't been feeling well for a few days, and before she left for work that morning, she asked if he'd like her to stay home. He was still groggy from sleep, and he said, no, it was fine.

She was driving away from the house when my dad realized he wasn't fine after all. He pulled on his pants (trousers, for those of you across the Atlantic) without bothering to fasten his belt and went to the door to try to call after her to stop. He shut the door behind him so the dog wouldn't get out . . . and the door locked behind him. On the tail end of his belt.

He couldn't get the belt out of the door. He couldn't get back in the house to telephone for help. He was having a stroke and was losing his coordination and ability to think.

With much fumbling, he managed to step out of his pants and work his belt out of the loops, then put his pants back on. Luckily, his car was in the yard and the keys were in it. (Oh, how many times we had appealed to him to take his keys out of his vehicle! Once he had all his mechanic tools stolen from our front yard because of this, but that's another story.)

Anyway, he got himself into the car and drove to his buddy's house a couple of miles away. By the time he got there, all he could do was lean on the horn until his friend came to his door to see what the noise was.

From there, his buddy took him to the emergency department of the nearest hospital, which was a fifteen-minute highway drive.

My dad told me this story as he lay on the stretcher in the ER. He could see the humour in the situation, perhaps because he didn't realize yet how serious his condition was. Being similarly unaware, I thought it was funny, too.

At the time.

So much for recording the funny moments, because now I'm having trouble seeing the joke. Now it just makes my heart ache.

But it also makes me marvel at the human spirit, and think about the part that luck plays in our lives.

Dad's drive to survive allowed him to overcome several dilemmas and get to his buddy's house, even though his brain wasn't working properly.

He was unlucky to have had a stroke to start with, but he was lucky to only gradually lose his muscle control. He was lucky his keys were in the ignition. He was lucky he didn't go off the road or hit another vehicle. He was lucky his friend was home.

And I was lucky, too -- to have him around for another eight years, to talk to, to help care for, to learn family history from, to be a bridge to closer relationships with some of my relatives on his side of the family, to laugh with and cry with, to share memories with, to share the making of new memories with (a marriage and the births of two great-grandchildren) . . . and to love.

Some day soon, I'll tell you another story, which I hope turns out to still be funny when I write it. It involves chocolate, so that's a point in its favour right there.

If there a lesson in today's story, I think it would be this:


If everything seems too much, just look for the next step to take . . . and take it. Then the next step. And so on. You can do more than you think you can.



Have a good weekend, my friends.




36 comments:

  1. He did a great job, it's a remarkable story. I'm glad he got to stick around and you got all those benefits, it could have been lost in an instant

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    1. You're right. He had a hard time in those eight years as he was permanently paralyzed on one side, but I treasure the time we had and he made the most of it too.

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  2. That's not amazing story about your Dad and his stroke. He really knew what he had to do.

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    1. The will to live is very strong in most people, I think. It certainly was in him.

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  3. I suspect that you need more time. There are dad-tales from here which made me laugh initially, weep later, and are now making me smile again. I am hoping that laughter will follow (in the fullness of time).
    I love your father's determination. With luck AND determination a surprising number of things become possible.
    Hugs.

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    1. I suspect you are right, although I didn't realize it until you said it, EC. I thought I had gotten past the weepiness, but . . . not so, I find. Hugs in return, dear lady.

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  4. What a great story! your dad must be pretty special to be able to have done those things while having a stroke.

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    1. He had a strong will to survive, River. I was amazed to hear how he saved himself.

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  5. It makes my heart ache, too, Donkey. But I do admire his quick thinking. I like your kitten/tiger meme, too. Did you ever watch the TED talk by the brain scientist who had a massive stroke? Her name is Jill Bolte Taylor. You've probably seen it but if you haven't, it's worth your time.

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    1. Yes! And I read her book, too. Amazing story, and she worked so hard for her recovery.

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  6. Such a great story. All the factors which worked in his favour that day! Incredible really. You were so fortunate to have that eextra time with him!

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    1. I sure was lucky, although he paid the price - he never recovered movement in one side and spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair in a nursing home. However, he was an optimist and always tried to look on the bright side, and that helped so much.

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  7. Oh my, that had to be hard to write and you did it beautifully.

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    1. Thanks for those kind words, Arleen.

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  8. Funny at the very first telling and heart breaking now. Life is like that, isn't it?

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    1. I was surprised to find that although I was still thinking about it as being a funny story, it was no longer funny. But then I hadn't told it to anyone since those early days. A lot of water under the bridge since then.

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  9. Your Dad sounds like a strong willed man, it takes a lot to overcome stroke symptoms, and it is good to be able to look back and laugh at some of our situations during the very serious episode. Laughter has gotten me through a lot and even though not funny we still have to laugh at ourselves sometimes.

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    1. Laughter got us through a lot, too, in the eight years after his stroke, Jimmy. There was often not a lot to laugh about, but he and I and the staff at his nursing home tried our best, and succeeded a lot of the time.

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  10. It's interesting that your own reaction to the story changed as you wrote it. I can see the humor, but like you, the tragedy as well. The poor guy! He WAS lucky in a lot of ways, but that's a lot to deal with in a single day!

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    1. I was so surprised that I couldn't see the humour in it any more, Steve. We thought it was quite funny at the time. Hindsight is probably the culprit :)

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  11. A poignant post. Your dad had a fighting spirit. Thank you, too, for the message about just taking the next step.

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    1. He really was a fighter, and it's not something I would have predicted, because he was a very mild-mannered man. But he definitely fought hard to live many times after that day.

      Just taking the next step isn't an original thought, but when I saw this picture and put it with the story, it just rolled out of the keyboard - glad to pass it on, A.

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  12. I'd laugh at the story if not for its tragic outcome. As it is, it made me want to cry... and cheer for your Dad's indomitable will.

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  13. I wonder if I would have stopped to replace my pants.

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    1. Hah! I wonder . . . and - me too. Probably we would, Joanne :)

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  14. Thanks for sharing, jenny_o. The story made me chuckle even though it was a life and death situation. I can definitely see why you had a hard time finding it funny after you wrote it down. Have a good weekend as well. Take care.

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    1. I'm happy that the humourous side was still evident, Mr. S! I hope one day I'll find it funnier again.

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  15. Your dad was lucky that he had you. I was lucky I had (have) Briana. When I was in acute rehab from my stroke, I met people who just didn't have anyone. They made me understand how truly lucky I am.
    Humor helps, and you sort of have to take it where you can get it.
    When I was still in the hospital, before rehab, I had a few visitors most evenings, and saw a few folks I hadn't seen in a while. One evening, while my friend Brenda kicked our asses at Scrabble, another friend came into the room and wanted to know what was the matter with me.
    "I have a hole in my brain" I told him, "a brain-hole."
    This somehow struck me as funny, and I started cracking up, followed one by one by my Scrabble playing friends, until the room was ringing with uproarious laughter.
    The nurse came in to see what was up, but I was laughing too hard to tell her, and all I managed to say between wheezes was "brain-hole".
    She stuck around long enough to ascertain that I wasn't in need of a medical intervention and left.
    I don't know whether that incident had anything to do with the fact (that I learned from reading the bill) that they ran over a dozen drug screens on me while I was there...

    -Doug in Oakland

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    1. Heh! Sometimes the funny just builds and builds from something small to something huge! I love it when that happens!

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  16. Thanks for sharing this with us, Jenny! I laughed but I also felt my heart being squeezed. It is a bittersweet story that I imagine stirs all kinds of emotions in you. Your dad sounds like a strong and resourceful man. When you write about him I think about my own father who was just as important to me. We won the lottery with our dads and it's hard going through the world without them.

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    1. We were very lucky, weren't we Martha? And we're still lucky, having good memories. So many people don't get to have either.

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  17. He was a strong spirited man. I'm glad he had the chance to spend time with the family.

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    1. We were all glad about that, too, John.

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  18. Only a highly Strong and Humble person can find his such situation funny.

    i am agreed nothing works just suddenly .
    every incident has long process operated by NATURE behind it.

    though his habit of leaving his car keys in car gave him a little shock of theft but later it proved to be happen FOR REASON!

    thank you for sharing this heartwarming story dear Jenny!
    i would love to read more stories from you my friend!

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    1. Oh baili, you are so right that he was a strong and humble person, and I agree with your observation that this is the kind of person who would find his own situation funny, and not care about the embarrassing parts of it! And yes, it was lucky his keys were in the car . . . things work out in unexpected ways!

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