Wow! Time flies. I looked back to see when my last post about “us” happened, and it was 2014. So let me try to catch you up.
In January, all my children came for the great occasion of my army man-child marrying his German sweetheart.
After celebrating this great occasion, my children took me out to dinner and had what my friend, Lauri, calls a “come to Jesus” meeting with me. They were concerned about my health. (I am sure it had nothing to do with the horribly ugly skin rash I had over most of my upper torso and face.) We talked a bit about what might help me and I conceded a few days of respite somewhere away from home would be nice. Since the stroke, 4 ½ years ago, I have not been away from Strokeman more than two nights and three days at one time. I admitted needing a break, and they encouraged me to do what it would take to make that happen. It took me a few days to even think about what would be a reasonable plan, but I did, and I began to work towards a trip to see my sister in California. She was lining up massages and counseling and walks on the beach. I was counting the days, and hanging on for dear life.
Then, Strokeman got a case of the flu that hit him so hard he could not think well enough to make his legs work. He became so impaired, so quickly, that I thought he’d had another stroke. The EMT’s that came at my request assured me that he was just really sick with something. I made the mistake of letting Strokeman control his own destiny at this point, and sent the paramedics on their way.
Just a few hours later I found myself in the bathroom where Strokeman was unable to control his body enough to get the two feet from the wheelchair to the toilet. In my efforts to help him, I moved the wheelchair out of the way to be close enough to … I don’t know – pick his legs up and move them? … I found myself in the ridiculous situation of standing next to a man twice my size, who was leaning his head on the bathroom wall, while resting an increasing amount of weight on my shoulder and saying to me, “I wish you would stop panicking. Can you just stop panicking?”
I could not. I also could not continue to hold him up. Fearing he was going to fall and cause us, both, bodily harm, I worked at lowering him to the floor. As I put a pillow under his head, he said, “What did THAT accomplish?”
I did not stop to explain. I simply called the paramedics back and had him transported to the hospital. After several hours in the Emergency room, they admitted him for observation. (Apparently, being hammered with the flu is not an adequate diagnosis for a true admission to the hospital.) I realized could not take him home. He needed way more than I could offer him.
They managed to keep him a few days while running various tests, and I made preparations to have him transferred to a Skilled Nursing Facility for some physical therapy. This was the fulfillment of his worst nightmare. From the very beginning of our stroke adventure, he has feared being “dumped” in a nursing home. When we left the hospital he was still in such weakened condition that he didn’t really argue with me about the plan. It didn’t take him many days before each visit started with him begging me to take him home.
During his one-month stay at the skilled nursing facility I managed to get some much needed rest (on nights he didn’t call me to tell me he was not being taken care of). The facility was close enough to home that I could visit daily. I did what I could to keep him from feeling abandoned, while maintaining that he must regain his strength before I could bring him home. He stopped begging to leave and made valiant efforts to do as the physical therapist instructed – for the most part.
While I couldn’t bear to leave him for long, I did take this opportunity to make an overnight trip to OKC to see some dear friends from Africa. It was good to visit with “aunt” Jeanine and “uncle” Glenn Boyd who had been surrogate parents for me when the borders between Kenya and Tanzania were closed, making it difficult for me to get home from boarding school. We spent the evening remembering stories from another lifetime. Their oldest daughter, Becky, is a dear friend, and she managed to take a break from her family to come spend the night at her parents’ house. There is something so comforting about drifting off to sleep in the middle of late night conversations in the dark with an old friend. Another friend, Rilda, came over for supper and stayed to visit for a while. This was a trip I have wanted to make for years. So many of my aunts and uncles from Africa are growing older and frailer, I felt as if I was racing against time to see them.
As the time grew near for Strokeman to be brought home, I decided to make a quick trip to see my parents. I got my youngest son, David to come with me to do the driving. On the way back, we stopped in Waco at our favorite local restaurant, Lula Jane’s. As we sat there enjoying a bite to eat, David broached the subject of selling the house. I told him all the reasons I had given up that dream, and he proceeded to do away with all my excuses. I agreed to at least try to start down that path again. I dreaded it. Not because I didn’t want to leave this house, but because the road seemed full of insurmountable obstacles. I just didn’t think I could do everything I needed to do to make it possible. But I knew I had to try, if for no other reason than to come to an arrangement where David felt comfortable leaving me to get on with his own life.
Once I got home and got Strokeman home, I began interviewing realtors. I fully expected they would tell me what I was endeavoring to do was impossible – and one did. But there was one who made it all seem doable. He promised to help make a long complicated process as easy as possible. Thus, the new leg of the journey began.