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Responding to Stroke | The First Few Days

This is an account of what our family experienced this week. I'm hoping our experience will provide insights to people caring for senior or near-senior family members. If your parents are already taking maintenance meds for either hypertension or diabetes, be alert for the signs of a stroke attack.

image from PIXABAY

This is the story of Tatay's first stroke attack.

My husband and I are used to receiving phone calls from our parents. When we received an unsuspecting call last Monday night I automatically assumed they were going to order rice. (because we officially supply rice to our relatives.) It was Nanay (my mom). "Na-stroke ata Tatay mo." ("I think your dad just had a stroke.") I spaced out for a moment. Tatay was diagnosed with diabetes more than a decade ago. Diabetes increased the chances of having a high blood pressure as one of the complications.

They weren't able to bring him to the hospital that night. Unfortunately my father is the only one in the household with a driver's license. Roy and I went there the next morning and urged my mom to bring him to the hospital.

When we got there he was lying on the bed unable to move the right side of his body. Half of his face was droopy and he had trouble speaking. He's conscious and responsive, just unable to stand or walk. He can still move his left arm and leg.

Roy agreed to drive us to hospital. Roy and my brother, Glenn, tried carrying Tatay to the car but that did not work.

We called 911.

image from PIXABAY
Before the rescue team arrived we scrambled to prepare stuff to bring to the hospital while applying first aid. Roy went out to the street to wait for the ambulance. I was on the phone talking to the dispatcher. Glenn put our dogs in the cage.

The rescue team from Pasay City Disaster and Risk Reduction Management came within 15 minutes after our call. They took his blood pressure and vital signs before putting him on a stretcher to the ambulance.

Upon arriving to the ER that Tuesday morning, Tatay was still thinking about work, especially their alumni group Christmas celebration on Saturday. He was begging for his cellphone. He wanted to text his batch mates and get work done despite his condition. Nanay had no choice but to confiscate his cellphones to force him to relax. That very night, Tatay was admitted to the CCU (Critical Care Unit) of San Juan De Dios Hospital.

image from PIXABAY
The CT scan showed old and new blood clots in his left brain, swelling, thankfully there's no internal bleeding. It turns out he has experienced several mild strokes before. Several occasions in the past, he complained that he feels numbness in his right arm.

Wednesday night, the doctor informed us that there's a blockage in an artery on his neck. For it to be removed, his blood has to be further thinned out. There's a risk to this procedure - bleeding. There's also a risk if we choose to do nothing about it - another stroke attack. Kailangan maagapan kasi mahirap yung ma-stroke sya ulit. Mas malakas daw yung susunod. (The next stroke attack will be stronger and more difficult to cure.)

We decided to give our consent to remove the blockage. MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is scheduled next week at Manila Doctors' Hospital to assess the situation. We're hoping and praying hard that there will be no severe complications to this.

Today is his fourth day in the CCU. He's still fed through a tube running through his nose. I could not imagine how deep that tube goes. He's not allowed to eat or drink because food may go to his lungs. He still can't move the right side of his body. He's conscious. Madaldal nga eh. (He's talkative.)

As much as we want him moved to a regular room right away, we can't rush his treatment. I've been telling him, "Tiis lang muna." (Be patient.) All of us in the family want this ordeal to be over soon. It's so hard seeing him like that.

Hours before the stroke, he was still able to park the car. Natulog lang saglit. (He took a nap.) He woke up unable to move. It's a blessing that the stroke happened when he was already at home, not on the road while he was driving! Walang pumutok na ugat. (None of his blood vessels ruptured.) He is not on a coma. God is good!

Our family is grateful for all the prayers thrown our way.

I know that God has a reason. He allowed this to happen. There's no questioning God's wisdom. We may not understand it now but I'm sure there is a purpose.

We are staying positive and we are looking forward to his recovery soon.

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