I spent the last 3 nights in the Stroke Unit at a hospital in Dublin. Now there is something I never thought I would be saying. I am home now, finally showered after having worn the same clothes around the clock for 4 days, and comfortably resting in clean, cosy pyjamas. Declan is here with me while Brendan sadly remains in hospital still struggling to have his PEG feeds increased.
In short, I am ok.
After having a CT scan of the brain with contrast & angio, MRI scan of the brain with contrast, chest x-ray, ophthalmology exam, loads of blood work and even more lights shined in my eyes than are on the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center in New York City at Christmastime…I am ok.
I did not have a stroke.
I have to pause and re-read that line over and over. I did not have a stroke. We still aren’t 100% certain what happened, but have an informed guess (possibly an adverse reaction to one of Brendan’s medications, scopolamine, getting in my eye). What is certain is that there is no neurological issue, damage, concerns. All is clear! I am going to take the next few days at home with Declan to rest and recharge my very depleted batteries. And, I will reflect with gratitude and thankfulness – two words that simply don’t come close to capturing what I am feeling at this moment.
As I lay on a trolley in the A&E after the ambulance brought me from the hospital where Brendan is to the hospital with the stroke unit, I was truly terrified thinking that I may not see my boys ever again. I lay staring up at the ceiling, tears streaming down the side of my face into my ears, and wondered if at any moment I would slip into a place I would never return from. I lay there alone, waiting, praying that I could be granted another chance at this journey called life so to be there for my boys as I’m all they have.
Here I am, granted another chance.
I’ve always thought life is full of lessons, and I learned more of them these past few days. I learned more about love and commitment from the elderly lady in the bed next to mine as I watched her and her husband interact after 60 years of marriage. I learned more about family bonds from the lovely elderly lady in the bed directly across from mine as I watched various family members come in and out daily bringing care items and indeed, bringing love and laughter. And I was reminded that not everyone has someone as I watched others, like me, have no family to visit them as they lay alone filled with unheard emotions and, most likely, fears.
I also learned that I need to take better care of myself. To eat better, exercise more, and grant myself time to relax. I will have to work on the last part of that lesson and tell myself it is not selfish to take time to relax. (Having said that, it must be noted that for a single parent, full time carer, this is not an easy task – and sometimes it’s impossible. This is a prime example of why carers need more supports!)
Amongst all the testing, it was discovered that my cholesterol is very high, which of course puts me at risk for stroke or heart attack. This has been a wake up call, no doubt about it.
So, it’s time for a few days to relax. A few days to prioritize some things (like myself). A few days to reflect and begin to set out on what will be a newly gifted journey.