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J Audre C.

Caregivers & Family

For the Love of Mother

August 4, 2006, is a date that I will never forget, as it was the day my mom suffered a massive stroke. The sound of my ringing cell phone awakened me from a sound sleep. As I rolled over mumbling to myself, I wondered who had the nerve to call me at such a later hour. To my horror, it was my youngest sister calling to inform me that my mom had been admitted to the hospital after having a stroke. At the time of the phone call, she didn't know the severity of my mom's condition, as she was on her way to the hospital. The only thing she knew was that my mom was in a very critical condition. Needless to say, I became an emotional wreck. I had to wait for what seemed like hours for my sister to arrive at the hospital and to provide me with an update.

The fact that I was hundreds of miles away was causing me additional stress, as I knew I couldn't be there by my mom's side. Nothing I did made me feel any better, as thoughts of losing my mom permeated my mind. A little while later, I received another call from my sister saying that my mother's blood pressure was very high, and she wasn't able to breathe on her own. Again, she informed me that she would keep me abreast of the situation.

I cried and prayed to God to not let my mother die. I didn't know what to think as my thoughts were all over the place. My sister called me once again to inform me that my mom was taken into surgery to alleviate some of the pressure off of her brain. I waited anxiously next to my phone for another update. That was one of the longest waits I have ever endured in my life. My mom was in surgery for over four hours. I've often heard that no news is good news but that did very little to ease my anxiety. I decided to log onto the Internet. I came across the National Stroke Association website and began to educate myself about stroke.

My next task proved to be the most challenging, as I was trying my best to get to Memphis to be with my family. However, all the plane tickets were very expensive since I was trying to schedule a flight quickly. As a result, I had to schedule a two day flight before I could find a reasonable price. When I arrived, my mom was in the ICU. I didn't know what to think as I saw tubes coming out of everywhere. I met the neurologist the following day, and his negative energy didn't help my mood. All I heard was what my mom would not be able to do if she survived. He kept repeating over and over again that she would be in a vegetative state for the rest of her life. I didn't want to hear that and told him not to speak such things in my mother's presence as she could still hear. Mother stayed in the ICU for a total of 4 weeks. She was finally transferred to the Restorative Care Unit of the hospital and had finally started breathing on her own. After spending a few weeks there, she was finally sent to a nursing home where she currently resides. She's incapacitated but on her good days she can utter a few words.

In hindsight, I wish my family and I knew about the FAST test (Face Arms Speech and Time). A few days leading up to the stroke, my mom had complained about severe headaches; and the night before it occurred, she was not able to raise her arms above her head. It's too late to for me to help prevent my mom from having a stroke, but I have made it my mission to educate others about the signs and symptoms of stroke.

My hope is that what happened to my mom and my family will not happen to another family. Let us help to raise stroke awareness. I love you, Mom.


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