Sunday, March 15, 2015

I’m Not a Doctor I Don’t Need “Patience".

Before I begin this week's article:
Since this week's presenter is from Texas, I wanted to show the Strike Out Stroke video from the Texas Ranger SOS event but I don't have a 2014 video of that game. However, we will be having a Strike Out Stroke event at their 2015 game on May 13th and perhaps a video of that. If you are in that area, please attend the game that day as it will benefit both you and us. 
 This week I am presenting the video of the Strike Out Stroke event at the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game:  Click Here

The following was contributed by Charles Smith a caregiver and Odessa, Texas, Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camper along with his survivor wife Nita. In this article Charles chronicles the events and daily life during the early recovery days of Nita's stroke and their "new normal". 

by Charles Smith
This used to be my motto: "I’m not a doctor I don’t need “patience”

Well five years ago February 24, 2006, I had to change all of that kind of thinking and God gave me the patience I needed to get through a major crisis in my life.

Nita had gotten her hormone shot that Friday morning and before the day was over she came down with an extremely bad headache. Over the weekend she appeared to have flu-like symptoms, something that was going around the Odessa area during that time of year. Little did we know that she had started suffering from a stroke. The following Monday she got in to the doctor and got treated for the flu. That afternoon she started slurring her words and we thought that was caused from the medicine she was taking. She still appeared to have the aches and pains associated with the flu. On Wednesday I was at work and my son stopped by the house and immediately seen a big change in her. She had forgotten things and was talking in meaningless jabber. He got her to the Doctor’s office and they got her over to run MRI’s and other tests. I rushed from work to find her finishing up the tests. The X-rays and MRI’s showed that she had a stroke that went up both sides of the brain. She was started on medication to get the swelling down and the Doctor informed us that there was a chance that she might not ever remember things again and that she might not ever regain normal speech again. The medicine they put her on would bring down the swelling and we should see improvement. She did not remember anything for the next two weeks. She would get up each morning and shower and clean up and then most of the day she would lay in the bed. Each night I would tell her “Babe you’ve had a stroke.” The first night I told her that she told me without slurring her words she said plainly “It’ll be OK”.

Nita's neurologist Dr. Abdul Kadir calls her his miracle patient.

I typed the following as events took place. To share with Anita at a later date:

I’m not a doctor I don’t need “patience”

But I had to learn patience.

February 24, 2006 our lives changed and at the time we did not know what the outcome would be.

“Don’t leave me alone in the twilight” (“Twilight”a song sung by Rick Danko of the Band) “Twilight truly is the loneliest time of the day”. And I experienced that loneliness while you lay in the bed in such pain.

I didn’t know what was going to happen to you. You had such a bad headache. I could not imagine life without you.

I took a few days off from work. At night (twilight sometimes) I would sit at the computer and download music and every now and then I would look in to see if you were awake. I would stare at the walls a lot and wonder what I would do if you were not here with me.

You would stay in the bed most of the time during the first several weeks. I would lie in bed with you at night and talk to you. You were hurting so bad with a headache and could not talk very plain. I told you that you had had a stroke. You looked at me and as plain as day you said “It’ll be OK”.

I was there with you all the time that I could be. The kids (Michael, Melissa, Rubi and Kenneth) were there also and helped me very much from making sure that we made doctor’s appointments to whatever needed done. Your mom and dad and my mom and dad were there when we needed them. Doug (the neighbors on corner), brought over BBQ and boy was it good. Some of the people from church brought food. Wauneta Hoover brought a roast and you loved the gravy and potatoes. Mom brought a stew. We had a lot of food.

Mom and dad came over and had supper with us. You tried to say something and slurred your words. It upset my dad, he got up from the supper table and went outside. You watched him leave and said “Mister, is he OK? Do I need to go see about him?” you always want to try to help. You knew that he had a problem choking. You always wanted to help even when you were hurting yourself and you always thought of others first.

One night the cat jumped on the bed and you said “what is that?” That is Snuggles our cat. You said “what’s it do?”

We would sit at the table and try to get you to eat. It was sometimes hard to figure out what you were saying that you wanted to try to eat. You did not eat much and you would smell of your food before you would eat it. When we tried to give you your medicine, you always wanted to know what it was and why you had to take it.

At night before I went to bed, I would sat at the computer and listen to music. I would download songs and play them for you. You would be in our bed listening. You seemed to like listening to music. You would say things like “who is that singing?” and “I think I remember that song”.

Sunday morning one week later you balanced the check book and seen where I had written a check for the house insurance. You ask me why I had written it. It was kinda like you were upset that I wrote a check and paid it. You said “there’s money talk to the lady” I had no idea what you were talking about. You had saved money for things like house insurance and other emergencies. I did not know where you had it hid.

Our first time we went to Wal-Mart and you looked around the store and said “wow they got a lot of stuff here”. As we walked down the main isle looking for whatever that we needed, you would point and say “bottom right shelf” and there would be the item that we needed. You seemed to remembered where things were.

You missed two hockey games and we went to the Tuesday game as we were going in you said “do you have the keys?” I said what for and you said “so we can get in the game”. I said “you mean our tickets?” You said yes. You carried a pillow in to hug on.

Melissa was helping clean our house and had mentioned that she didn’t like your vacuum cleaner and that we needed to get a new one. You told her “ask the lady, the lady knows” you said “there’s one in the closet. Talk to the lady” We found a new vacuum cleaner in a box in the hall closet.

One afternoon, Melissa got home and when she was entering the house yelled “Hey LADY, I’m home”. She would always say “Hey LADY” when she would come in the house. It dawned on me that when you were telling us to “talk to the LADY the LADY Knows”, that YOU WERE THE LADY.

As you started coming out of your sleep stage, You came back to me and in a very special way. Thank you.

You were just like a young child (around 2 or 3 years old). Everything was new to you and every thing you said was so innocent. It reminds me of what the bible says about “except ye become as little children ye cannot enter the kingdom of heaven”.

I told you your favorite group was Jethro Tull, you said “It is?” And laughing you said “No that’s your group”. You knew I was teasing you. We would laugh a lot and cry a lot.

We had to help you learn what things are. You studied while we sit out on the porch. Michael and Melissa build us a railing around the front porch. We sit out there when the weather is nice. Once you ask me a question about what you were studying and I answered you and you looked up at me and said “you’re so smart”. (it was something easy) You learned something new every day.

The day after Melissa’s Birthday Rubi came over and started working with you and teaching you the ABC’s and how to count. Rubi would stay with you most of the day. She was very good teaching you things. Kenneth would help teach you things too. He would say Ganny that’s right when you would answer something.
We went to Old Sorehead Trade Days one weekend. The drive over there scared you riding in the truck. Everything was new to you. You walked around staring at stuff and trying to remember what things were.

I would take you out behind Family Dollar and teach you how to drive the truck. You said “can I go down this road?” and we ended up driving out around by the Rexene Plant. You passed the curve in the road and said “hey isn’t this where we shot fireworks with Leo Cloud?” (That was way back when the kids were little and you remembered that). The next time we drove I let you drive to the service road and to Love’s Truck Stop. You wanted to get out of the truck with it in drive and still running.

I came home one day and you had been digging in the kitchen cabinets to see what was in them. You told me you found some wooden things and you started describing them with your hands. (They were clothes pins) You said as you pinched your fingers together “boy they’ll hurt you too!” I ask you what they were called and you did not know. I ask you what you used them for. You said oh they were Clothes Hangers. You were close.

We lost my cousin Curtis the day Mom went to Dallas to the hospital. Memorial Day weekend we went to see her. You helped feed mom while we were in the recovery room. Sunday when we were getting ready to come home we went to trader’s village and looked around. You lost so much weight you needed a belt to hold your pants up. You wouldn’t let me buy you one so we found a strap and you used it for a belt. Then we went to Cabela’s and you looked at all the stuffed animals and read the names. You liked that store. While we were driving north bound on I-35 a car in front of us pulled over to the right like he was going to get off on the off-ramp and then suddenly he swerved back into the lane we were in. You said “that dingle-berry almost got us”. I said where did that word come from? You said “is it a bad word? It just came out.” We both laughed.

I didn’t think we would ever be going to Colorado again.

One day (June 2006 a week before we normally go on vacation) you looked outside the kitchen window and said “are we going to take that on a trip this year?” I said “take what”. You said “the trailer”. I said where would we take it? “To Colorado.” Well if you think you would like to try to go there, then I will setup vacation. We spent three weeks at our old camping spot. The first night it was kind of cold and I said would you like to run the heater and you said No. The next night you were taking a shower and I started the propane heater. When you got out of the shower you said “where did you get that?”. I said we’ve always had that. Boy was you glad that we had a heater. You thought that I was wanting to run the trailer heater that would drain the battery.

We had a camp fire and we studied the sky at night watching for shooting stars and satellites. I would ask you what they were and you would have to think of what a shooting star was called or what a satellite was called. We would look at the flowers and robin redbreasts and the sage brush. I would test you each day as to what they were. At night we would watch TV. You liked watching Concerts that I had on DVD’s. You were intrigued with the way people played musical instruments.

We went to wash the clothes at the laundry mat in Salida. You stood there staring at the washing machine after we had put our laundry in it. I ask you what was wrong, and you said I don’t remember how to put the money in and I had to show you. You said that you would be OK by yourself so I went to get water for our trailer. When I got back you were so excited and said “I was able to start the dryers because I watched how the other ladies put their money in them”.

The world keeps swirling by and there is more of it that I want to see and do with you.

You came in one Saturday morning in March 2007 and with a real cheerful voice and a big smile, you said “want some pancakes for breakfast?” You were reel happy to be able to do things for me.

One Saturday we went to fort Stockton on our motorcycle and met Ishmael and Silvia Rangel. They were eating at the Mexican Food Restaurant.

3-25-07 our truck was parked in the church parking lot and Richard Siler came up to me and said “do you drive a chevy pickup with a camper shell?” I left with him, leaving you alone in the pew. After church services Glenna brought you out, you had been sitting there crying not knowing what was going on and it scared you.

You didn’t recognize the scenery going to Carlsbad (going to John Raymond Stevenson’s funeral) You said “I don’t know where we are, but I know you know how to get us there”

You met Steve in Colorado Springs at the flea market. He had a stroke about the same time you had yours. You and him starting writing letters to each other.

You enjoy concerts and we try to go to them during the summer.

Summer of 2007 You enjoyed going to my Odessa High School class of ’72 reunion you had a good time.

While I was at work one day, you wanted to paint the house, so you got the paint and latter and got on the house to paint the eve over the porch. You got scared and couldn’t get down. Lupe saw you up there and rushed over and helped you get down. Please stay off the roof.

You like going to flea markets.

We went to the 2007 Air Show a jet flew over and made a loud noise and it scared you. You stood there and cried like a little child, I had to hug on you and tell you that it was OK and tell you isn’t it neat the way that jet can fly through the air. 

You stopped crying and we both started laughing.

We went to Glenna’s to eat ice cream. You would visit with the ladies from church.

You sharpened a pencil in the pencil sharpener 8-24-07 and said you new how to do that cause you had watched me sharpen one the day before. You said “that is a neat machine”.

We went to Amarillo and watched a hockey game. We shopped route 66 shops. We got up to a blizzard the next morning and came home early. We’ll go back again sometime.

We lost Snuggles our cat December 2007. We both are having trouble dealing with that. We seem to always find little things that remind us of her. She was a very special cat. She really started talking to us the last year that we had her. She was your buddy.

One Saturday we got up late and I said would you like to go to the Carlsbad Caverns and you said sure. We went and had a good time. You were kind of nervous about going down the elevators but you did OK and had a lot of fun. You said they have new handrails. You were remembering when we had gone there years ago that in that particular area there use to not be any handrails.

We went to see Leon Russell sing at the Hog Pit with Sharon Gene. Melissa went with us.

You’ve had a hard time eating because you almost choked on a Doritos Chip. You have gone back to not eating well. For the next full year you had a very hard time trying to eat food and I thought I was going to have to put you in the hospital. One night around midnight you woke me up crying. You said you were hungry. You told me that you did not remember eating anything that day while I was working. I got up and fixed you a pimento cheese sandwich. I went in to the computer and typed you up a list of food items, so it would help you remember things we had in the cabinets and frig, that you could eat, while I was at work. I bought a little insulated soft lunch box for you and I would put snacks in it. That way you always had a snack handy to eat. I would look in it to make sure you had eaten something and you would have to tell me what you had eaten that day.

Sunday 2-24-2008 We rode the cycle to Goldsmith and took the back roads and came out on highway 385 near the roadside park, then we came home. You enjoyed the ride.

You know how to find the Little Dipper.

You can’t wait till warm weather comes cause you like working out in the yard.

You like to watch the movie Wild Hogs. You always laugh when you watch it.

March 8, 2008

We went to Sweetwater, Texas to the Rattlesnake Roundup. We did not see the snakes, but we went to the Gun Show and Craft Show. We had sandwiches in the truck and then went to the flea market. We bought me some tools. We had seen a vendor that sold Cowboy Potatoes (potato chips) when we first started at the flea market and we said we would get something there on the way out. You couldn’t wait to leave so we could stop by and get some potato chips. They filled the plate about eight inches high. We put salt and a lot of ketchup on them and went to the truck to feast. You ate some of them on the way home and later that night when we got home. They were good!!!

March 9, 2008

I run you out of the house so I could do our taxes. You were trying to be quiet but in doing so you were making all kinds of noise cleaning stuff. You stood in the bedroom trying to figure out how you would be quiet. You decided you would go to Walmart. I finished figuring our taxes and called Melissa to come over so I could figure hers. I had Melissa call you to ask where you were and let you know she was here. Michael and Kenneth came over we started a campfire and to cook hotdogs. Kenneth helped put the wood in the fire pit. He was having a lot of fun. Mom stopped by while we were getting the fire going. She ate with us. Later after you came to bed you said that you did not eat good today. So we got up and you was able to eat Pimento Cheese. That was one of your favorites.

March 23, 2008

Easter Sunday: Raining outside. Everyone is coming over for hotdogs. It stopped raining and we were able to start a campfire and cook wieners. Mom brought potato salad and a ham. Bo & Jo, Amy, Mom & Dad, Melissa, Michael & Kenneth, and Randy came over.

March 25, 2008

We ground up the rest of the ham and made ham salad. Mom & Dad loved it. You were able to eat it. We will carry some of that on our trip to Canton next week.

March 28, 2008

You went to the rodeo with Melissa.

You came in and asked me if it would be alright if you went to the rodeo. (I was still sick with tonsillitis.) You really wanted to go but you didn’t want to leave me at home by myself. I told you to go ahead and have fun. When you got home you were so excited and started telling me all about the cows and horses and how big they were. You had a good time.

April 5, 2008

We went to Canton 1st Monday Trade Days.
Then we pulled the trailer over to Shreveport, Louisiana and took a day trip to Vicksburg, Mississippi. In Vicksburg, we went through the Civil War Battle Grounds. You ask me why would people want to kill each other like that, weren’t they all Americans. We stopped at Traders Village on the way home and had to go to Cabela’s that was your favorite store.

April 17, 2008

I told you about the goat that jumped in the deep hole. You said “poor little thing, he didn’t have a choice.” David and Loyd found this deep hole on Greg’s property. They couldn’t tell how deep it was. So they threw rocks down in it and still couldn’t hear them hit bottom. David found an old transmission laying around and had Loyd help him pick it up and they threw it in the hole. All of a sudden Loyd yelled “Look out”. A goat charged out of the mesquite and headed right towards David. David barely got out of the way and the goat jumped right in that deep hole. Greg came over to them and saw them looking in the hole and said, “Have ya’ll seen my goat. I had him tied to an old transmission.”
This is the last of what Charles wrote but certainly not the last of what they shared together and how they grew in the following years. It certainly is a testament of the love of a husband for his wife. 

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