About 9 years ago dad had a stroke. I was at work on a Monday morning and got the phone call. I worked in the city at the time so was able to go straight to the hospital. Mum and dad live 2.5 hours away and dad’s brother was giving her a lift as she doesn’t drive in the city, and probably was in no state to drive. Dad was on his way in a helicopter as hospitals aren’t equipped to deal with things like this in the country.
Although 20 or so years earlier my grandmother, his mum, had a stroke and she stayed in the local hospital, before it closed, until her second stroke killed her. I’m guessing stroke treatment has come a long way during that time as she didn’t have any operations for stents for blocked blood vessels.
It was an anxious time sitting in the waiting room. Waiting for the rest of the family to arrive and waiting for dad to be admitted. There was a bit of a stuff up though as when I asked I was told that he would be coming in by plane and ambulance. We found out later that wasn’t true – he did arrive by helicopter. We were eventually allowed to see him.
He couldn’t move or speak, but he could cry. That shocked me more than seeing him lying on the emergency hospital bed more than anything because he’s not a crier, except for the time I left on my backpacking holiday in my mid-20s I saw a couple of tears escape from his eyes.
The first few days were a bit of a blur but things soon settled into a routine. The lad was only about 5 or 6 so he didn’t really get what was going on and taking him into hospital to visit dad meant short visits on my part, although sometimes I was able to visit at lunch times as I could walk there. Mum stayed with my sister and went to the hospital every day except for some weekends when she went back home.
There was another guy in the bed next to dad who was only in his 40s and apparently his stroke was related to the amount of recreational drug-taking he’d done. I felt for his mum who was from the country and had to stay in local accommodation to be around for him. Dad was in the Royal Adelaide for around 4 weeks and this guy was there before and after dad left. I wonder sometimes what happened to him.
He had quite a few visitors pop in to see him during his stay so sometimes a visit to him meant a bit of a social occasion catching up with friends or relatives besides immediate family. At least we could chat among ourselves as it was a bit hard to converse with dad as his speech had been affected.
Dad was quite determined to recover though and what spurred him on was being allowed to drive again. Once he had surgery to put a couple of stents in and once he reached a milestone he was allowed to go to a rehab facility where he spent another 4 weeks or so.
Just in case you were wondering what early indicators of a stroke are?
The National Stroke Foundation recommends the F.A.S.T. test as an easy way to remember the most common signs of stroke.
Using the F.A.S.T. test involves asking these simple questions:
Face Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?
Arms Can they lift both arms?
Speech Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
Time Is critical. If you see any of these signs call 000 straight away.
Dad’s pretty good now. He got his driver’s licence back and all his movement and speech – although I think he mumbles more than he used to.