Saturday, April 16, 2011

Where Have I Been?

Granny celebrating her 90th birthday  August 29, 2010
Life has been hard this year due to illnesses in our family and right when the sun began to shine and healthier days had come, our lives changed forever in an instant.  It started with strep throat that went though 5 of our 9 family members.  Then the flu struck Ethan and me.  I was literally in bed for 3 days and not 100% for over a week.  Then Lilly and Ellie each had a virus with fever and headaches that lasted almost a full week each.  By God's mercy and grace, we survived all of those illnesses and by early March, we were all looking forward to restored health and new life symbolic of spring and Easter. 

On St. Patrick's Day around 7:10 pm, the phone rang.  David was at a meeting at church, and I was busy cleaning up dinner dishes so I let the answering machine get it.  My dad's voice came screaming through the line.  He had found my grandmother on the floor of her kitchen.  She was taken by ambulance to our local hospital.  Her speech was slurred, but other than that she passed all of the typical "stroke tests"  - could stick out her tongue and move it both directions, could smile, had bilateral strong grasps of both hands.  She was getting ready to be dismissed when I was told to make sure she could walk.  I noticed when helping her get dressed that she was leaning very much to her left.  Then when she stood up, she could not walk and it took all of my strength to keep her balanced and upright.   The original thought was that perhaps it was a reaction to cough syrup that caused her dizziness and fall.  However, at this point we knew we were dealing with something much more signficant.

After transferring to a larger and better equipped hospital, it was determined that my dear grandmother of 90 years young had sufferred a severe stroke deep within her brain stem and thalmus.  Her stroke was termed a "stroke in evolution" which meant her symptoms evolved over several days.  36 hours after being found on the floor by my father, she could barely open her eyes, had left sided parlysis, very slurred speech, difficulty in swallowing, attention deficits, left visual field cut, disassociation of her left arm, and left side neglect. A woman who had been completely independent and lived alone was now completely helpless.  I was scared and extremely sad as my grandmother was no longer the woman I had known for my whole life.  I was also overwhelmed - she is a widow and has only my father and me to care for her.  I knew I was in one of the most difficult times of my life; deep within a valley; in the middle of a storm.  Yet, just like the lyrics to a popular Christian song, I managed to still somehow "Praise Him in this Storm"!

The sun is shining again and the storm has moved on.  It has been 4 weeks and 2 days since Granny's stroke.  She has spent 1 week in the hospital, 3 weeks in a rehab hospital, and was just moved on Thursday to a rehab unit at a nursing facility.  We  pray her next stop is back home.  And we have hope that that may very well happen.  She may never be able to live alone, but there is great hope that she will be able to return home with help.  Her physical therapist, Kenneth, told my father just yesterday that he would have her up and walking next to the rail before she left.  That was wonderful news.  Her spirits are good most of the time although she does become weary and gets discouraged from time to time.  She has always been a fighter and if anyone can overcome these obstacles, I know my Granny can do it!

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consummed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3: 22-23