April 28th 2003
I get to go back to my hospital today. But first I have to go to my Primary Care Doctor. She wants to check on my progress. Dr. S came to see me in the ICU. She came to see me on the neuro floor of my hospital. But now, I have to go back to where I had my stroke 24 days ago. I have to walk in those doors and go in one of those rooms. Will I walk out this time? Mom drives me there. I walk in and the nurses have a “happy but terrified to see me” look on their faces. I guess it was a bit out of the usual routine to have a 30 year old Caucasian healthy female patient stroke out in the office. I get it. I am a rare case.
But, Ugh. Everyone is looking at me and whispering. I have my suction machine, but not the Kangaroo. I am going to start Bolus feeding soon, so I am taking a break. (Bolus means that I do not use the Kangaroo, I put the formula straight into my tube in my directly. Some freedom in that I suppose.) So the nurse checks me into a room to see my doctor, but not My Room, where it happened. When she is done taking my vitals, she goes to leave and shut the door. “NO,” I say loudly. I didn’t think to say it. I don’t know where the voice came from. It just came out. “NO, don’t shut the door. I can’t have it shut. Never again.” I repeat. And inside my head now I am crying, I need to hear the voices in the hallway. I need you to be able to hear me. What if this time you don’t come fast enough? What system will shut down on me next? Even though, my mom was right there with me and I would not be alone in the room. Even though, the nurses probably have me down as a frequently checked on patient. Even though, I am with a building of 50 or so medical professionals. Even though, the doctors are telling me that I am healing today. Even though. Even though.
During the appointment my Doctor talked to me about how I was doing, asking me how I was feeling. “Not much,” was my immediate answer. Stroke for me was not painful. Stroke was Silence. My whole body is deathly quiet. And I don’t trust it anymore. So the silence covers fear. She said that the fear was normal. I was doing really well, she said. I was young and healthy, she said. And I had got care FAST, she said. She “suggested,” translation, “you are going to make an appointment with” a Medical Social Worker. I have no idea what they could say or do. (The voices inside my head scream: What can we talk about? Have you been in my shoes? You are older than I am, but you came to work today and after you see me as a client, you can go eat a big hamburger, go to the gym and drive home. What’s the point? ) But what I say is that I will set the appointment and show up. (And in the car ride downtown to my hospital, a new mantra has awoken in my head. Why the he** did you save me Doctor S.? Why didn’t you let me die? And I know this is a horrible thought. And I don’t want to upset my Mom more. So I just listen to the radio and look out the window.)
It is great to see Carole at my hospital. She works out of the PT suite. The PT room is huge and so sunny with a whole wall of windows. People are working and talking and smiling and moving. The space is alive. And off this huge room, there is a hallway. Carole’s room is the second on the left. There is a nice table and chairs and the lighting is nice and Carole is there. There is something about her, here, that gives me Hope. Her warmth and smile, her skill and confidence, her touch, all lift me up. I believe that she believes I will swallow again. And in that belief, I have another new direction and purpose for living. I take care of my babies and I WILL swallow.
The big bowl is full of swab packets and ICE. (This photo was taken inside my freezer on 4/28/16. Yup, I have saved two packets of swabs for 13 years. I brought them to my new house when I moved. I never want to forget where I came from.)
April 28th 2016,
The Monkey Balls were a big hit with my students, in case you were wondering. That sweet treat is a gauranteed laugh and YUMMY. My kids worked so hard. I am proud of them. I wonder often if when I was in 6th grade, I could have worked so hard on a standardized test. I am definitely not convinced that I would. I am in awe of what this generation of kids does.
The test is about two hours. For the remainder of testing days, I try to have engaging lessons that are something new and fun. For two days we worked on 6 Word Stories. Ernest Hemingway wrote, “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm. There are an infinite number of interpretations or tales that come out those 6 words. There are articles, magazines and blogs dedicated to the publication of 6 word stories. I posed this story to them. They had a variety of interpretations. Good. I wanted them to write their own: 3 stories, using only 6 words. The first story is about yourself. The second story is about 7th grade and the third story is a free choice tale. All stories must be 6 word stories. But just sending them off to write by themselves, with that small intro, after tirelessly taking the test, not gonna happen. So I have a group write. One of my gems gets up and scribes on the board all the words the students share about one topic: Mrs. Henry. I am shocked at the positive words they use: baker, sweet, chocolate, silly, brave, courageous, and devilish. All pretty good sounding labels to me. After listing the words, they had to write a 6 word story using some of the brainstormed words. One story was: Mrs. Henry: sweet baker or devil? I’ll take it.
At school and at home, we are busy with the Heart Walk, which has crept up and is now only a week and a half away. I have now heard from two sources that I was seen in an ad about the Heart walk on TV. Yup, it’s true. Last year at the walk someone with a video camera and a microphone asked a bunch of us, “Why do you walk?” Here is what I said used in their PSA for the Central MA Heart Walk this year. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=besOSc-7yu4
This year I added a bumper sticker to our fundraising. I have not found a STROKE identified bumper sticker to my liking for years. It has to be Blue, as that is color of Stroke Awareness. And it has to say F.A.S.T. as that is the campaign we are pushing to raise awareness to most and prevent strokes for most. I have been unsuccessful in finding one that fit those requirements, so this year Tim and I designed our own and had some made. I am selling ‘em for $5 each and all proceeds go to our heart walk team. If you want one and are local, let me know and I can get one to ya. I want to sell them all during MAY: Stroke Awareness Month. So here is a shameless plug for my team and a great cause. http://www.kintera.org/faf/search/searchTeamPart.asp?ievent=1141392&lis=1&kntae1141392=23756BB7FCB84A0FAD357180009BAF25&team=6641800&tlteam=6478459
This link goes right to our team page.
Please help if ya can. I am so honored to be a part of such a great event. Over the weekend, I’ll tell you how I got involved in the Central MA Heart Walk. (My first time was 2003!) But right now, my Gus God Dog, Jason and I are due for an evening stroll, especially after a yummy supper of grilled chicken, pesto from our own basil, and lemon ricotta ravioli. Oh my!