Friday, December 14, 2012

Stroke Progress: 1 year out

My mother in law had a stroke almost a year ago.
We had a really scary Christmas because of it.
She has diabetes, COPD, and doesn't take care of herself the way she should.
We acknowledge that, but cannot change it.
Last year around Christmas we noticed she was acting a little slower than normal.
I think most of us attributed that to her COPD and likely bronchitis.
It was the season for sickness and that was usually how she started.

On Christmas Eve we were celebrating at my grandmother's house and we got a call.
My husband rushed around gathering things to throw in the car and just kept repeating to me,
"We have to to go to my mother's house."
I was very angry with him because he wouldn't explain and I was having to leave my family celebration.
Once we arrived, I noticed that we had called an ambulance to assist her.
Thankfully, my children were asleep in the car and didn't see any of this.
Inside the house were my brother and sister in law and the paramedics.
Her blood sugar was alarmingly low, so they gave her medication for that.
Everything else seemed okay.
As we attempted to move her from her chair we noticed that she had an accident in her chair.
I knew immediately that she would be mortified at that fact and I also knew that was NOT normal for her.
She was coming to with the medication for her blood sugar and KNEW it was Christmas Eve.
She did NOT want to go to the hospital.

I can vividly remember the look on Sean's face when he realized that she had an accident in her chair.
He was terrified and his face said so much in that moment.
My husband played it so cool that day and I wouldn't know anything he thought or felt until much later.
Anette did not want to leave her house, but I insisted that she go.
Daryk and Sean were very hesitant to send her to the hospital that day, and I felt like the bad guy for insisting upon it, but I did.
She pleaded with me not to send her.
I remember her crying when I told her that she had to go because she was sick.
I held it together until I got in my car.
On my drive home I sobbed.
I took my kids home and Anette went to the hospital.
I don't remember much else from that day. 
I don't think Daryk was there much.
I do remember going to the hospital late that evening.
I sat with Sean some while he was with her at the hospital.
Mom (that's what I call Anette, my mother in law) was very quiet at the hospital.
Anette and quiet and two words that should never go in the same sentence.
She was unusally quiet.
Multiple tests later and they were all inconclusive.
She was sent home on Christmas Day. 
Christmas was very chaotic and we had Taco Mac for dinner.  :)  Yummo!
But she was home.

It didn't last long.
A few days later the same thing happened, back to the hospital she went.
At this point I was scared.
Her family has a very strong history of cancer and several instances of brain cancer.
She was transferred twice to different hospitals to receive treatment and have tests.
The initial diagnosis was a brain tumor, so we prepared for the worst after we were given news that she had 6 months to a year to live.
Thankfully that diagnosis wasn't accurate. 
She had a stroke.
A slow moving, weird, not normal stroke.
That went misdiagnosed and untreated for too long.
A stroke is the stoppage of blood flow to brain: a sudden blockage or rupture of a blood vessel in the brain resulting in, e.g. loss of consciousness, partial loss of movement, or loss of speech.  SOURCE

This seemed to fit her much better.
But she hasn't been the same since then.
I cannot believe it has been a year.
She is strong and has made a great recovery, considering it took almost a month to diagnose her.
I think if she had been diagnosed appropriately closer to the incidence of stroke she would have been able to recover better.
She still doesn't talk as much as she used to.
She isn't as active as she used to be.
She doesn't leave the house as much as she did before the stroke.
Her movements aren't as steady and her endurance is not what it was when she first moved up.
She still does everything she did before the stroke, it is just slower.
Her brain still processes things slowly and her response to questions isn't always what you expect. 

Oh, and she's mean as hell... but I'm not sure that's new.  :)

But she's here.
And she's mostly healthy, all things considered.
I know most people don't absolutely love their mother in law.
And I don't love everything about her.  She drives me crazy most days.
But I wouldn't trade her for the world. 
She loves my kids with a force that only God could stop.
She loves me and has taken me as her own.
She loves her own children with a love that makes them choose her time and time again.
I pray every day that my own children feel that same kind of love from me.
Watching her choose to live every day is remarkable.

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