Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Bleak Days

The doctors verified today that Dad had a major stroke on Sunday evening. It has damaged some of the same frontal areas affected by Alzheimer's without limiting in any way his mobility, so the stroke was masked to a degree until an MRI was done.

My early theories about what happened on Sunday were partly correct; something did go wrong when Dad went out to his car. I presumed that Dad got confused from Alzheimer's and didn't remember to drive home. Their theory now is that Dad's vision was affected (we've verified that he sees as if looking through a narrow slit), and he walked back into WalMart because he knew it wasn't safe to be home. I am firmly convinced that, as much as Dad wanted to return to his house, this thoughtful, generous, selfless man walked back into the store because he knew his driving home would be unsafe to others. I suspect he stayed there to see if the problem would pass; as his brain suffered more and more injury from the stroke, he finally collapsed.

Yesterday, I thought Dad was just reluctant to eat; now I realize he didn't see the food I offered him because I was holding it below his very limited field of vision.

Dad has lost friends to strokes; he has always said that he hoped he would go suddenly rather than dying in stages from a stroke. Life can be relentlessly cruel...

Because he has full mobility, he has been combative and aggressive; the doctors say that is normal, and in some patients it never ends. They offer a desolate prospect of Dad having to live in a nursing home, restrained for his own protection.

Another stroke is still possible as well, since Dad's blood pressure remains dramatically elevated. The next few days will give us some clearer picture of what the remainder of Dad's life might be like...

I wrote with disapproval earlier about Dad having eaten almost a dozen cookies in spite of his diabetes. Now I am glad that he did; those cookies could not have contributed to his current state, I've been assured, so I am glad he savored those cookies when he could still appreciate them. He denied himself so many things for so very long, and joy had eluded him more and more frequently since Mom's passing. I picture him now, eating slowly as he always did, chewing deliberately and cherishing each bite. "Makes the good last longer," he remarked when I asked him why he sometimes ate slowly. I hope the good lasted a long, long time, Dad...

3 comments:

Lanny said...

Cliff,

My friend, I am so sorry this has happened. Reading your posts brought back a flood of memories about my mom and how a progression of strokes took their toll. I have pretty good idea of how you must feel. Hang in there.

Know that you are in our thoughts and prayers.

CoyoteAllyson said...

Me and my parents both give you our deepest empathy. My mom's dad also had a stroke, and lost the ability to talk (and he loved to spin outlandish tales!). Both my dad's parents had Alzheimer's, and their personalities (especially Grandaddy Clyde's) changed dramatically.

I know this is such a tough time for you, but do remember you are not alone. Your other "family" is also concerned, and we are all here for you in thought and deed.

*hug*

Anonymous said...

Cliff,
Please tell my big brother that I love him and give him a big kiss for me. You are all in my thoughts and prayers. Please let us know if ya'll need anything.
Love, Aunt Martha