Today we celebrate our 5th anniversary.
Five years ago yesterday we had a normal day at the office. A went to the aquatic center and swam 35 laps. We went out for dinner and spent a quiet night at home. A totally unremarkable day.
But all that was about to change.
And our life would never be the same.
Around 2:00 AM on April 7th, I awoke to my husband thrashing around in bed. My first thought was that he was just trying to get comfortable.
But the thrashing continued.
I asked, "Are you ok?"
I asked again.
Still no response.
I turned on the bedside light. A looked at me but would not speak. This was all very confusing. Was he having a dream? Was he disoriented? Was he teasing me?
"A, stop it! What's wrong?"
"Speak to me or I'm calling 911!"
Within minutes the bedroom was filled with EMT's, police and local volunteer firemen. The room was hardly big enough to hold everyone who responded. The preliminary diagnosis was "cerebral accident" better known as stroke.
We were taken to the nearest hospital at their recommendation even though there is a stroke center within a 45 minute drive. If this were ever to happen again, I would insist that he be taken to the stroke center. However, when in shock one tends to accept what the official protocol. Once at the ER, a CT scan was taken to determine if the stroke was caused by bleeding or a blockage. The test results did not show any bleeding in his brain but because the stroke happened while A slept, we had no idea when it actually occurred. The miracle clot busting drugs, which have a very limited window of opportunity to be administered, could not be used.
After all the testing it was determined that A had an occluded carotid artery which was blocking blood flow to his brain. The medical protocol for someonw with A's medical history is to have a carotid doppler every 5 years. A was only 4 years into that span; had he been given the test, the occlusion would have been discovered, treated and the stroke prevented. Although the artery was later cleared, the damage was done, much of it irreversible.
A spent a week in the hospital and then transferred to a rehab center where he spent another 6 weeks in physical, occupational and speech therapy, followed by continued therapy at home and then outpatient speech therapy at a local college for 2 years. Today A can walk and has become quite adept at using only his left hand. He can speak although he continues to suffer from both apraxia and aphasia, speech disabilities which can make verbal communication chaallenging at best, difficult most of the time and impossible on occasion.
To say our life has changed is an understatement. Nothing is the same. Absolutely nothing, from work to finances to mobility to safety...it just affects everything.
But today we are 5 years post stroke. That is a good thing, a very good thing in light of his medical history.
And we have each other, our family and our faith. Although the future is uncertain, as it is for so many families right now, we do not dwell on what has been lost or what might have been. We choose to focus on what we do have and are thankful for these past 5 years that we have been able to share together.