Wednesday, March 21, 2012

On A Serious Note

Two years ago my baby brother had a stroke.

 I say baby because at the time he was only 47. He was very young.
Before March 15th 2010, I thought primarliy older people had them. I knew young people had them, but no one really talked much about it. I had heard about mini-strokes or TIA's, but not massive strokes.  

I spent all day in the garden and had gone up to change when my brother, Rob called to tell me that Dave had had the stroke. He was being air lifted to Waco from his small town. I knew immediately that this had to be more than a TIA if he was being air lifted. I frantically called my husband and daughter to see where they were so we could head down to Waco. 
It was one of those - I can't get my fingers to dial a phone number kind of moments. 
Turns out my husband was sitting in the driveway talking on the phone. 
I changed out of my gardening overalls and we hopped into the car. If I had taken a moment to think about it, I would have realized that I should have taken a change of clothes and some toiletries, but I really wasn't thinking.
My brothers and I lost both of our parents by the time I was 17 years old. We endured severe trials together so we are really close. 

Dave was a teacher (he can no longer teach), an avid DIYer, and a junker. 
We talked all the time. He was my go-to person for venting or laughing about school stuff and thrifty finds.

Things were very serious when we got to the hospital. He had a major stroke affecting the left side of his brain. It affects movement on the right side, but it also can damage speech. We wouldn't know about cognition, memory and other things for a while. 
He was not out of the woods, so to speak, for about 4 days and it would be a while before we would know about any long term disabilities. 
A thoughtful hotel in Waco supplied us all with toiletries when we got to it at two in the morning. 
I remember how kind they were to us. I tear up thinking about it. 
That kindness at a moment when we really needed it, still ministers to me. 
I don't remember much about the next 4 days, but a couple of things stand out. 
I remember being thankful that this happened 30 minutes after Dave parked the school bus after his route.
I was also thankful for the outpouring of the small town they had moved to.

Bill had to go back to work but Bekah came to stay with me. She was unable to find a job at the time, a blessing because I needed her strength and support. One of the joys in having adult children is seeing them rise up to the occasion when roles are reversed.  
I kept waiting for a miraculous awaking like you see on the T.V. but that did not happen. He woke up, but his recovery seemed very slow. It was a least a week before we knew that he even knew who we were. 
Miraculously he was able to get up within a week but he was a slow getting around. 

We were all so thankful he was alive, but he was completely altered by this. Before he was quick witted, with the sarcastic family humor. Suddenly he was silent. 

It sent me into a very odd sort of grieving. 
Not really a depression, although it would have been understandable to be depressed. 
I shared what happened with my friends when I got back to my life and work, but I am not sure anybody outside of the family really understood. I wouldn't have before...
But what if someone you loved suddenly couldn't speak anymore? So much of dialog is two way.
 I am pretty good at chattering if the need arises but there are only so many stories I can prattle on and on about.
Another misconception I had about strokes was that the victim could at least write to communicate. (Thank you again, television.) That was not the case here. There was really no way for Dave to communicate except by gestures. Can you imagine how frustrating that was for him? 

 Dave is probably one of the bravest people I know. It is extremely sad that he had to give up his teaching career,because he was a great teacher. As I have watched his recovery, I am really in awe of his strength. He spent 6 weeks in rehab and another 8 months away from home in a brain rehab group home. He went daily to speech, occupational, and physical therapy. People kept telling us that the brain is an amazing organ and that it has incredible powers to repair itself. 
Sometimes in midst of the long recovery process, I am not sure I believed them. 
But, it has been two years. 
There have been plateaus, but for the first time since the stroke Dave picked up the phone to call me a few weeks ago. We had a wonderful conversation, a dialog, something I will never take for granted with anyone again.
I can spot people now who have the same kind of gait and say a prayer for them, because they may have had a life altering, catastrophic brain event as well.    
The quiet person sitting in the chair may not have been quiet before. 
It is just easier to retreat to silence when communicating is so difficult. 

This is Dave and his amazing wife at the final Ranger game when they won the
ALCS Pennant in October of 2010. Dave has always been a huge baseball fan and a fan of the Rangers in all the years they lost. Their winning season kept him entertained during the long months he was away from home in rehab. I don't know, but we all felt that in God's big picture He was using this to help heal Dave and give him joy in the midst of sorrow. I'm sure he was not the only Ranger fan who found hope in their miraculous win. 
Read about it here: 

Thanks for letting me share,


  1. Beautifully written.
    Beckie in Brentwood, TN

    1. Thank you, Beckie! I appreciate you taking the time to comment.:)

  2. I agree.....beautifully written post. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you, Jane. It was something I have thought about for a while.

  3. Wow that is an incredible story! Thanks for sharing something so painful~Dave is quite a guy.

    1. Thank you. He is amazing. Their county wide garage sale is tomorrow. He is heading out with his little golf cart. :) Thanks for the comment.

  4. It's always difficult to see a loved one go through something like that. One of my brothers had something similar. Dave seems like a great guy. Thanks for the visit, and the follow. I'm following you back.

  5. Thank you, Rosemary for stopping by and taking the time to comment. :)