This June has been one of the hardest months of my entire life. It’s been 26 days since my dad had his stroke. He went from the hospital to an amazing rehab acute rehab facility where groups of professionals… from speech therapists to occupational therapists to physical therapists, nurses, doctors, psychiatrists….all joined with our family to bring my dad as far as they could during his stay with them.
When he arrived there, we were told right away that they would keep him as long as they continued to see him fight to get better, as well as see progress. If he plateaued at all, or didn’t work hard, then they would release him to a sub acute facility, where he would have much less therapy time. It was soooo difficult the first few days to get him moving. He couldn’t stay awake or alert for much time. He would fall asleep as we talked to him, as we tried to feed him. They explained in the beginning that we had to make sure he swallowed everything in his mouth completely, because if it went down the wrong pipe it could cause major problems. I remember feeding him alongside my sister..one of us mushed the food and fed him and tried to talk to him and keep him awake to chew, while the other one kept shaking him and tapping his chest to get him to chew and swallow. We both had tears in our eyes wondering if this was going to get any better, as just getting through dinner took so long, was physically and mentally exhausting. We had to get as much protein and good food in him so that he would have the energy to get through all of the therapies scheduled for the next day. If he couldn’t stay awake and get through them, he would have to leave this amazing facility, and we all wanted to stay, knowing this was the team that could work miracles.
Any night that I could get to the computer before collapsing in bed, I would shoot out an email to all of the people praying for us and for my dad. I would update it with any specific prayer requests we needed. As usual, those prayers and the special emails are what have gotten me through this past month.
It was a very long first week, and my sister stayed in the hospital with my dad in the beginning to make sure he ate and worked hard and did everything he was suppose to do. Those first few days he was barely able to speak, falling asleep in mid sentence, not able to use his right hand or right leg barely at all, not able to feed himself or hold a glass, not able to walk, not able to move up in the bed by himself. Not able to hold any attention to a conversation. It was a very scary time for all of us, and heartbreaking for my mom. His grandchildren had a hard time seeing him like this, but all kicked in to help in every way.
At the end of the first week, the medical team had their weekly meeting, and when it was over, we heard from a few of them who said that they had never seen someone come as far as my dad did in one week! That was our first big glimpse of hope. He was talking, could eat by himself, could move his right hand, could stand and walk a bit with a walker…it was truly a miracle.
On June 15, Warren and I had to go and spend the day and go to each of the therapies with him. We were told the night before that he had “graduated” from speech therapy. He no longer needed it, because he was back to where he was before. We went to occupational therapy, where they had him get in and out of bed with a walker and assisted a bit by one person, along with getting in and out of a shower. Then we went to physical therapy where he walked with his walker up and down the hall a few times, even going in and out of cones, walked along using help with bars, and also went up and down about 8 stairs.
As we watched my dad walk down the hall with a therapist and his walker.. Anya, his head therapist, shared with us that they have seen so many people in their jobs come in, and they all agreed that they have never seen someone come along so far in this amount of time as my dad has. As I was walking with her, I thanked her for all that she and her team had done so far… for believing in my dad, and I told her that my church, friends and prayer team had been praying for wisdom, etc, over all of the people working with my dad, along with praying for my dad. As I said this, she actually stopped walking, looked at me in amazement, and then down at her arms, as she pulled up her sleeves and showed me her “goose bumps”…as she said, “oh my gosh, that’s it! That’s the answer to why we are so amazed at his progress!…look, you gave me the chills!” She went on to say that she totally believes in prayer and God, and she just truly knew at that point, as the smile just stayed on her face, why my dad had come so far in such a short amount of time. Praise God!
When the other therapist joined us, he also explained the progress, and said that when my dad came to them the first day, he remembered that when he had to chart what he was able to do..instead of marking down his progress in the amount of steps taken, they could only measure it in inches of actual movement, because he couldn’t even take a full step. Now, less than 2 weeks later, he had just walked him up and down the hallway 4 times, had him walk in between the even bars holding on with one hand for a bit, and climb 8 stairs twice. My dad was exhausted at that point, but it was nice to have him hear us all talking about how far he had come, because he doesn’t remember so much of it.
On June 20, my dad had to leave the amazing facility (as insurance only covers it for so many days), and they all said that he had come so far and it was time to move to a sub acute facility. I packed up all of his stuff, thanked everyone for taking such amazing care of him (and also told them that I hoped that although I loved them all…I never wanted to see them again 🙂 ) …I followed the ambulette over to the next facility, which is much closer to our home, and unpacked him there. It was nice to have him closer, but it is a facility within a nursing home, so it is sad for me to leave him there. I know that he just wants to come home. He loves his home, his bed, his family….and he hasn’t been home for 26 days, as of today. And depending on how his therapy progresses, it could be another 20 days or so. That is a really long time to be away from your home. We are all just continuing to pray that they can get him to a point where he can walk on his own, dress himself, and be able to go to the bathroom on his own, so that he can do all of that at home.
It has been so overwhelming, between taking care of dad at the hospital, trying to take care of my mom at home, and be there for my family as well. Lots of tears and breaking down emotionally in my car heading from one place to the other. I always do a lot of praying through the tears in the car, and always blast the radio with our local Christian radio station, K-Love on. This past week, I think I hit my breaking point a few times, and the day I was moving my dad from one rehab facility to the other, after giving my mom insulin and taking her to 2 doctors the day before for her breathing problems, diabetes, and complete body swelling due to being on prednisone for so long, after praying with my daughter as she left for school to take her Biology Regents exam… the song, “Blessings” came on in the car. I sang along and cried through each word, trying to find some sort of blessing or reason for all that was going on….
Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops What if Your healing comes through tears What if a thousand sleepless nights Are what it takes to know You’re near What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise
I’m constantly praying and asking the Lord during this really trying time to show me the mercies, to give me a glimpse that He cares and is with me and knows what I’m going through. It’s the beginning of summer, the kids are out of school, we should be planning our fun times and possible vacation plans….and all of that is pushed aside right now with no real time to even discuss it.
Two Saturdays ago, to top it all off, I went to WW and gained 1.8 pounds. I just cried right there. It wasn’t that I did anything terrible, I just couldn’t get to the gym each day, and being at the hospital or running my mom to doctor’s appointments, I couldn’t even grocery shop, cook and prepare the food I could have, or plan any of my meals. I was on the go, trying to grab decent choices, and along with all of the tough times, anxiety and tears throughout the week, a gain on the scale topped it off!
Late Sunday night, I checked my email and was taken back, again, by the amazing man who is the owner of the gym I belong to. He not only owns the gym, but also is the head of Port Rowing, which is a huge crew team, and does so much for charities and our town, etc….In and amongst all that he has to do, this is the email he sent me late Sunday night, as he noticed I hadn’t been to the gym Thursday or Friday…
“Heard about your dad, I am sorry, but if he is as tough as you, he will fight. I just returned from FL where my dad had open heart. Reminders we are all human and that we need to keep working hard to enjoy and have as many days as possible with our loved ones. I know things are hard, but do not quit on yourself, have not seen you lately, find time for a walk outside, you’ve worked so hard and changed so many other’s lives keep on your goal as you continue to help others. One thing I have learned about you is you are tough enough to do it. Remember as my mom always told me…” God does not give us more then we can handle” -Steve
As I read this email again, I am still so touched that he took time in his crazy schedule to write to me after noticing that I hadn’t been to the gym, and care enough about me, to be honest enough to push me to get back on target and remind me of what I have accomplished.
I wish every single person could find a gym as special as the one I belong to. 6 months ago, I sat in my car in the parking lot, afraid to walk through those “scary doors”…feeling that gyms were only for the perfect people who were physically fit and active already. Feeling that I would never fit in or feel comfortable walking in a place like that even a few days a week. I remember one of the trainers telling Meg and I to just use every piece of equipment whenever we wanted, reminding us, “this is YOUR gym”.
Power Ten Fitness is my gym, and I am so blessed to be a member there. There are so many special people, some I don’t even know their names, but I look forward to seeing them, saying hi, sharing a smile or a wave..others have shared some life stories and struggles, some have become friends, and the instructors, trainers, and especially, Steve, the owner, makes it feel like another family….they even miss you when they don’t see you for a while!…and reach out. Never in a million years did I expect to find this in a gym.
On the Monday following that weigh in I got back into the gym. I checked in and had to just walk over to Steve and hug him and thank him for sending the email. He was training someone, but I just had to quickly thank him so much. He will never fully know the impact he has had on my life, he is an incredible person who transforms the lives of so many people, adults, teens and children.
Monday night, I thought I would have time to journal, but I got called to help my mom, so all that was written was…
“June 11, 2012- Very rough week, had a gain in WW…time to refocus and get back on track…I’ve come too far to let myself fall…”
That week, I got back into the gym every day. I didn’t have time to do all the cooking and prep with food, but the following Saturday, I lost what I had gained and was back to my 66 pound loss. It has been so difficult to stay on target with the food and cooking, etc. With all of the hospital/doctor visits. I haven’t had time to write things down, but what I am making sure is that everything going into my body is a healthy choice. I may not be able to figure out all the points, but thanks to all that I have learned I have an idea of where I am. Knowledge is definitely power in this case. Tomorrow is Saturday already, a little frightened of the scale, but we’ll see. I did work out all 5 days this week, and ate as healthy as I could. Just couldn’t weigh and measure on a scale and didn’t write it down. I know that doesn’t work as well, but just trying to hang in there at this point. My husband is doing all that he can to help me. It’s such a difficult time for both of us.
(it’s almost 11pm…have to head to bed and write tomorrow)
(Saturday)…Woke up early, excited to see everyone at WW, but not too excited to get on the scale. It’s amazing that you truly know in your heart how you have done throughout your week as you step on the scale. Just as I have barely been holding on this past week, I just prayed to either stay the same or have some miracle that I could have lost some weight. I am on the edge of going into a new number, have been hanging on that edge for 3 weeks now. It is a tough one to bust through, but I will do it eventually (‘there is no plan B”)…I got there early to step on the scale, as I stepped up, they all asked how my dad and mom were, and the tears welled up a bit, then I heard the woman say…”ok, you’re up .6.” I just stood there and had a good cry, let out the frustration of the week. Knew that I worked hard to make it to the gym every day, but didn’t count points…and as Elyse always says…”only track the weeks you want to lose weight.” And although I put healthy things in my mouth all week, I did not track the food, or count my waters, or count my dairy. I just couldn’t find the time.
And although these wonderful women listened as they filled out my paperwork, they encouraged me to get back to doing it all, pointing out that life will always get in the way one way or another, things aren’t always going to get easier, they may actually get harder, and I had to use everything I have learned to make this weight loss happen.
So, I got to the grocery store, my husband is helping me prep all the food on the grill, so that I have safe things to grab. I am going to try the “simply filling core plan” for a few of the days and see if that makes a difference. I looked up all the power foods and learned more about the program, and I am working hard to make this a week of victory.
Yes, there have been a lot of teardrops these past few tough weeks, sleepless nights and many trials, but I am trying to constantly find the mercies which I know are there…some are still disguised, but others are helping me find some joy in the pain and the journey. Emails, phone calls, cards from people in our lives who have reached out at just the right moment to bless me… to bless us.
We’re taking one day at a time, sometimes one moment at a time. Praying through it all and asking the Lord to give me strength, courage, wisdom, comfort, joy and peace. Holding onto faith and His promises. Praising Him for the people He has placed in my life, who are helping to hold me up through it all. God is good, and when He’s not…..He’s GREAT! This is what I have to hold onto.