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The Day Our Lives Turned Upside Down

My 55 year old dad didn't show "typical" symptoms of Stroke, but the headache and obstructed vision in one of his eyes proved to be just as serious.

On Thursday, December 23, 2010 my dad, Bryan, started his day with a terrible headache. He took some Advil and headed to work. A couple hours later his headache wasn't any better and he couldn't see out of his right eye. He went home and wrapped my mom's Christmas presents and decided to lie down to take a nap. Unable to sleep he tried calling his doctor with no answer. My mom told him to go to the local emergency room. At about noon on the 23rd he went to the ER. At approximately 3:30 that afternoon he finally got a CT scan which found a clot that had made its way to my dad's brain. His left carotid artery was completely blocked. At 5:30 pm the decision was made by the ER to life flight my dad to a Stroke Center to get immediate surgery. My dad was completely coherent, still not showing any "typical" symptoms of Stroke. He had no slurred speech, facial drooping, or numbness. My mom and I raced the helicopter to the Stroke Center which is about 2 hours from the city we live in. It is important to say that my dad was only 55 years old at the time and completely healthy. He worked out and ate right and didn't smoke or drink heavily.

For whatever reason, the Stroke Center decided to not operate on my dad. We don't know if it was because he wasn't showing "typical" symptoms. We aren't expecting an answer to why the surgery never happened. At 2:30 am on Friday, December 24, 2010 my dad was admitted into the hospital for observation. My mom and I kissed him good night and found a hotel room nearby so we could get to the hospital first thing to talk to doctors and get the plan for the day. I should mention that my dad was still completely coherent and not showing any "typical" signs of stroke. At 7:30 my mom and I got to the hospital and decided to go to the cafeteria to get a little bite to eat while we waited for 8:00 to roll around which is when visiting hours started. We had no idea when we answered the phone at 7:45 that the voice on the other end was going to give us the news that would forever change our lives. My dad suffered a massive stroke. It was found out that morning he had atrial fibrillation and another, larger clot rammed itself into my dad's brain.

I never had another conversation with my dad. Christmas day my mom stayed with my dad (she never left his side) and the rest of us were at home with our kids and family. That evening my dad used his right hand and twirled my mom's hair and used his last bit of strength to utter his last words to my mom, "love, love." This was the best Christmas present my mom ever received from my dad. They had just celebrated their 29th wedding anniversary only 2 weeks before this.

Over the next week my brothers who live out of state were able to make it to the hospital; one is in the Army and had to get the Red Cross to allow him to come home; he was out of the country for his job. We spent the week holding my dad's hand and talking to him as his brain slowly died. We were told that there was nothing they could do for him so it was best to make him comfortable and to say what we wanted and needed to say to him.

On the morning of Thursday, December 30, 2010, my dad left his wife, 4 children, and 8 grandchildren (one of which was only 3 months old) to be with the Lord.

It is important to us, as a family, to tell our story. My dad was our rock! He was the most caring, honest man. He was smart and full of the best knowledge and advice. He had a smile that was so contagious and a laugh that I wish we had recorded. He was an extremely hard worker and everything he did was for us, his family. I have never known a person more dedicated to his family than he was. We were so scared when he died that there was more that he was suppose to teach us. We have decided that we are going to try to take what he taught us and teach others. We want to educate everyone we can that there are more symptoms of stroke than those that are typically talked about. If a person feels anything that just isn't right go straight to the emergency room and demand they do a CT scan as soon as possible. Ask questions, and don't stop asking until you get answers. Trust your instincts and get help. If we can keep other families from going through the pain that we have gone through we have done our job.


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Display of the Faces of Stroke stories does not imply National Stroke Association's endorsement of any product, treatment, service or entity. National Stroke Association strongly recommends that people ask a healthcare professional about diagnosis and treatment questions before using any product, treatment or service. The views expressed through the stories reflect those of the authors and do not reflect the opinion of National Stroke Association.

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