Dad’s Had a Stroke Series – A Caregiver Journey – The Beginning
It was a typical Saturday morning, out grabbing groceries and running some errands when my sister called my cell phone. I remember continuing walking through the store with my cart expecting a ‘normal’ conversation when she said it…. Dad’s had a stroke. I thought there must be a mistake.
Million thoughts ran through my head including, that isn’t possible I just spoke with him yesterday. He had just gone to the gym for his daily workout and was excited about renewing his work contract. He was fine. There must be a mistake. Dad was a fit, healthy and a happy 74-year-old man with lots of living and travelling to do….and grandchildren to watch graduate high school, university, get married etc. etc.
I guess my silence gave my sister the cue to say. “I am leaving now and will pick you up.” I just said okay…left the cart and drove home. My first touch of the ‘sandwich generation’ effect….my youngest, then 13 was at a sleepover and my husband was out with his boys for the day…. I hated to interrupt him but called his cell to tell him the news and ask him to look after the kids, make sure the youngest got home and saying I don’t know when I will be home. His last words were; “don’t worry about anything at home, take care of yourself, say hi to your Dad and I love you.”
Little did we know that at that exact moment, while he reminded me that he loved me and would take care of things, we were officially entering in to ‘caregiver journey mode’ and would have so many worries, fears, decisions, tears, anxiety and stress for months to come while managing full time jobs, children at home, keeping ourselves and everyone in the family in tact and caring for Dad.
The caregiver journey began.
So Dad did have a stroke. A significant one in medical terms, impacting about 2/3rds of his brain. How is that even comprehendible? He was just over 2 weeks before, celebrating our 13-year old’s birthday, looking great and loving every minute of the family function. Now he was paralyzed on one side, had difficulty speaking and on a very long road to recovery.
This wasn’t right. I couldn’t understand what the doctors were saying. He was still working, way too young to not be able to work, work out and enjoy his church, charity and family stuff that he had balanced for years. He was the pillar of strength for not only me but my children. Granddad could do it all and we could always count on him. Now he lay in bed, not able to do anything for himself totally dependent on us and that was something he had never done. Since a teenager and immigrating to Canada, he was always the one everyone depended on not a dependant. As I watched him laying there, I thought this is not good.
And so our caregiver journey begins…..Dad has in fact had a stroke.