Stroke and our road to recoveryFebruary 2016: my husband Matt, 46 at the time, is rushed to the ER. He had collapsed on the bathroom floor. He has been sick with a bad cold the few days prior, and in the hospital was diagnosed with pneumonia. But his heart was in A-fib. Anti-biotics and blood thinners were administered. 36 hours later at around 10pm, I got a phone call from the hospital that he was having a stroke. A CVA. The stroke was massive, he is given a 5% chance of surviving the surgery. He made it through surgery but was in extremely critical condition. One day after surgery, he was taken off the ventilator, but was agitated and restless. Not good for allowing the brain to rest and heal. The "team" decided to put him back on the ventilator and in doing so discovered his airway was partially blocked by mucous from the pneumonia. Infectious disease doctors had to be called in to start battling the pneumonia. After 11 days, the pneumonia had finally cleared up. And CT scans were looking positive. Matt is taken off the vent and moved to a regular floor and eventually the rehab unit. After 21 total days he was discharged. Just a few days into being home we realized something wasn't right. He would vomit anytime he moved. We went back to the neurosurgeon who ordered a CT scan. The scan showed Matt had hydrocephalus. His body wasn't absorbing his brain fluid and he would end up needing a VP shunt. The days waiting for the surgery were hard. They were giving Matt spinal taps in the hopes of giving him some relief. But the fluid in his spine tested positive for infection. Another setback. They had to call in the infectious disease doctors again to start treating this infection. We finally get to surgery day, which was difficult but successful. Matt is moved back to his room and things took a turn for the weird. ICU psychosis had set in. They called in a psych doctor who offered to prescribe something, but I knew I had to get him out of the hospital. At one point I had a PA whisper to me "get him out of here". So I did. Once Matt was home and around our kids, he snapped out of it. But one day after discharge, he woke up in excruciating pain..from a kidney stone. Back to the hospital we went. Luckily after some pain meds we were sent home a few hours later.
So here we are 11 months later. The stroke was in his cerebellum. The only obvious thing affected by it is his balance. He does have bouts with aphasia, but his recovery has been remarkable. 4 months after the stroke we were asked by the hospital's stroke coordinator to come back to the hospital to speak at a conference. We walked into a room filled with medical professionals from around our area to a round of applause. The neurosurgery PA had just finished presenting Matt's case to this group of people. The prognosis was grim. To see him walk in, the room was clearly taken aback. A testament to his recovery.
I have music playing as I sit here and write this and at one point Matt came over and started dancing (not well...haha). I would give anything to go back to the way things were. But we're ok. Recovery has been a long and winding road. We've had multiple setbacks. But with the love and support from family, friends and some therapy sprinkled in for both of us, we're getting there. And I am grateful.
"Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise" VH