Thursday, June 20, 2013

Symptoms of a stroke and a wee bit of drama

I've been very busy this past week and yes I *gasp* because I have done little to no stitching. Last Tuesday, when I came home, I found Mom laying on the floor. Fortunately, she had not broken anything but she wasn't making any sense. She didn't have all of the stroke markers and for those of you who don't know, they are a little different for women. Just a quick segue to give some good information from the National Stroke Association

Common stroke symptoms seen in both men and women:
  • Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg -- especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause
Women may report unique stroke symptoms:
  • sudden face and limb pain
  • sudden hiccups
  • sudden nausea
  • sudden general weakness
  • sudden chest pain
  • sudden shortness of breath
  • sudden palpitations

If you think someone may be having a stroke, act F.A.S.T. and do this simple test:

F—FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A—ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S—SPEECH: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
T—TIME: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.

NOTE THE TIME WHEN ANY SYMPTOMS FIRST APPEAR. If given within three hours of the first symptom, there is an FDA-approved clot-buster medication that may reduce long-term disability for the most common type of stroke.

When I gave Mom the FAST test she failed 2 out of 3. I called 911 and told them I thought my mother had had a stroke and that she also seemed to be severely dehydrated. 

You might be asking what could have happened to cause dehydration. Well, in the elderly and children, it doesn't take much. On Sunday, Mom was feeling great, so decided to work in her garden in the early morning. Even with me strongly recommending that she come inside, my 79 year old mother ignored me and went about "having fun" (her words). When she finally came inside, she ached all over and was exhausted, although still insisting that it was worth it. By Monday, she was ridiculously exhausted and had slept most of the day away with only a wee bit of eating and drinking. She was not awake when I left the house on Tuesday, but I thought maybe it was best to let her sleep. When I came home Tuesday evening, she was beyond sick. 

After a fair bit of frustration and a wee bit of drama, the final diagnosis was severe dehydration, a urinary tract infection and possibly a small stroke. As time wore on in the hospital, it was also discovered that she had a severe B12 imbalance and secondary infection (pneumonia). So more antibiotics and B12 infusions. During this time, mom was delirious and hallucinating and I spent the majority of my days at the hospital because she could not be left alone. It took so long for her to show any improvement, that I wasn't sure that she would. Finally on Sunday, she began to show major signs of improvement and two days ago (Tuesday), I was able to bring her home. For at least a week, she will have home health care and my brother will be staying with her. 

I'm going to segue again, and say this, if you have family members in the hospital, it is important to remember that you are their advocate. Don't just blindly agree with the doctors. Yes, doctors know their stuff, but they don't know your family member. If I hadn't stubbornly insisted that Mom still didn't seem right, after treating the dehydration and UTI, they would have just given up and said this is an old lady who has had a stroke. I kept insisting that, yes, she might have had a stroke, but that I wanted someone else too look at her because she still didn't seem right. It is important that you act as your loved ones advocate and speak on their behalf, if you think that something isn't right, speak up.

Well enough preaching on my part. Needless to say, that during all of this time, I got very little stitching done. Usually stitching calms me, but it became too distracting to start stitching and then have to put it down quickly to help mom. Eventually, by Saturday night, I was able to work a little bit on a Just Another Button Company Stitch Every Day pattern, Lucky Dog. It's stitched on a 30 count R&R and the pattern has quite a bit of block stitching, so it made for easy stitching. But even with all of that, I didn't get a lot done. 

Now that things are marginally back to normal, I am hoping that I can get back to stitching. I worked a little bit on BAP-T (no I didn't take a pic). I am almost finished with the fourth page, I have about 600 stitches to do. Yes, I am resolved that the likelihood of this miraculously being finished in time, is not likely, but I am also resolved to finish the durn thing. 

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