Tom McLane – My wife had a stroke
Tom writes in honor of World Stroke Day and shares the story of his wife’s experience of stroke. His daughter, Morrigan, shared her perspective here on the blog last week.
On June 18, 2014, April has a massive stroke that almost ended her life. She was a healthy 37-year-old mother of two who had no risk factors or family history of strokes at such an early age.
April had suffered from a lifetime of migraine headaches, which had been getting progressively worse.
Then one horrible evening the stroke occurred. She spent the next 43 days in the hospital, fighting for her life for a good two weeks after the initial stroke.
After 4 days of swelling on her brain, her vitals were quickly deteriorating. She needed emergency cranial surgery to relieve the swelling. Afterwards, she had more stroke activity. Two of her doctors told us she didn’t have much of a chance to survive and, if she did, it wouldn’t be a very viable life. But April had different ideas.
After her basic recovery, April went into intensive rehabilitation. There were many frustrations, but she was determined to get better. She re-learned how to walk and talk, which the doctors had doubts she would ever do again if she survived at all. She eventually learned to walk without a cane. Then, nearly two years after the stroke, she got her driver’s license restored. When she was able to drive again, regaining that added independence, her development flourished.
The doctors really didn’t know what happened. The best they could figure is that a lifetime of migraines eventually weakened the tissues in the brain, causing the clot that caused the stroke. Thinking back, that makes sense. She was feeling poorly in the days leading up to the stroke.
There are still difficulties which she manages. She has expressive aphasia, a condition that makes it difficult for her to communicate the words her mind wants to say. However, her communication is greatly improving. She also has difficulty using her right hand, which also is improving.
Despite all she has been through, she has defied the odds. Here she is, driving, going places by herself, living her life and we couldn’t be happier. She’s my hero.
As far as being her caretaker, it was a surreal experience. We had only been married a little more than two years when the stroke happened. When you take those vows, “in sickness and in health,” they are not just words. They mean something. I have learned to help her with her activities of daily living, getting her to appointments, and dealing with doctors. I wear that title as a badge of honor.
Life changed on June 18, 2014. But with love, determination, and healing, the “new normal” is just as rich as it was before.