Dad (Keith Furr) had a massive stroke on Sunday.
I was hanging out at the apartment of one of Carole’s friends on Sunday afternoon — someone I don’t actually really know, with a lot on my mind already (never mind why), and I wasn’t really having a good time. Is it bad to say that getting a call from my cousin Anne down in Florida telling me that Dad had been rushed to the hospital with a loss of sensation in his legs, etcetera, etcetera, made me sort of happy for a minute because it gave me an excuse to get out of there?
It’s not that I’m not happy to socialize, but Carole has had end-of-the-semester homework non-stop for the last couple of weeks and I’d really been looking forward to having a chance to spend some personal time with her. As we left church on Sunday morning, Carole reminded me that we’d agreed to go hang out with her friend. Somehow, that wasn’t what I’d had in mind.
The back story is this: My cousin Anne lives across the street from Dad’s house and checks in on him at least once a day, I think. Dad’s 81 and we lost Mom a couple of years ago. My sister Elizabeth, who is 100% disabled with mental health issues, lives with him, but isn’t the most alert and responsible person in the world. So, it was extremely fortuitous that Anne just happened to drop by within minutes of the stroke… and even more fortuitous that she knew exactly who to call (not just the ambulance, but the right doctors and things too). Anne helps out with a number of elderly people who can’t fully take care of themselves, so she’s got some experience that most people wouldn’t have. We’re very lucky that she’s such a big-hearted person and checks to make sure that Dad’s okay and keeps us up to date.
When Anne called, I don’t think I really got that Dad had had a stroke — and Anne didn’t come right out and say so, either. When she called, she’d just seen the ambulance off to Brooksville Regional Hospital and was about to jump in her car and follow him there. She told us he had no feeling in his legs and other scary things, but I don’t think I registered whether or not he could speak, had aphasia, or what. Later that day, we got an update that he was in the ICU.
It wasn’t until Monday morning that we got a full update — he had aphasia, but had regained sensation in his limbs, and that the neurologist hadn’t been in yet, but that he’d had an MRI, and that he’d definitely had a stroke. He was responsive; he could squeeze the correct hand if instructed to do so, but wasn’t able to speak. I was extremely worried.
The bright spot in the whole affair was the luck we’d had in having Anne find him and get him help as quickly as she did. There’s a three-hour window after a stroke when promptly applied medicine can make a difference, and Dad got the right care inside that window. If Anne hadn’t come by when she did, Dad might have died, or lived but with severe cerebral damage.
Later on Monday, the news improved tremendously — he was speaking more or less normally, with minor problems in enunciation, and seemed to be alert and aware of his surroundings. I didn’t call — I had a feeling that if I did call, I’d call at exactly the wrong time and get him when they were in the middle of a test or something. I knew Anne would let me know if there was good news or bad news.
Dad continued to improve, so much so that on Wednesday they transferred him to Health South, the local rehab facility in Hernando County, Florida. I gave him a call and was very pleasantly surprised to find him sounding alert, awake, and very on top of things. Dad said he was feeling better, frankly, than he has at any point in the last several months. We theorize that he’s had a partial blood clot obstructing flow to his brain for several months and that’s made him a bit confused and logy; with that clot gone, thanks to the drugs and treatment, he could fully and clearly think again.
Dad said that according to his doctors, he had a “massive” stroke and that he’s incredibly lucky. I said that it sounds as though he’s in the 99th percentile of all stroke cases, that most people who have massive strokes aren’t up and walking around (with help) and speaking clearly three days later.
We came pretty damn close to losing him on Sunday. While I know that day’s going to come, I’m not really ready for it just yet. But I thank God and Providence for giving us more time, and more importantly, giving us such a (so far) outstanding recovery. Many people aren’t so lucky. Once in a while, I guess things do work out for the best.