Category Archives: Setbacks

A Life Altering Experience – Part 2

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A Life Altering Experience – Part 2

So many losses. Mercy. Words painted gray with disappointment in my head. What was wanted didn’t come. What came wasn’t wanted. We’re left with shattered lives. In the dark, there resides a pounding and persistent uncertainty between us. Ron isn’t who he was. I’m not who I was. The lost parts of ourselves are vast. How do we proceed with a life altering experience? Good Lord, what’s next?

With a blood clot still in his brain two years after his stroke, Ron, tried to settle 10888736_945259278841328_7498673198762713532_ninto the reality of a different life, and so did I. Physicians had decided that the episode of dizziness that Ron had at work was actually his first stroke, not a pinched nerve. Well, that pissed us off. You mean he was misdiagnosed? How do you miss a stroke? A little more than a week later after his “pinched nerve” on that September day, a major stroke turned his life upside down.

There were many activities he could not do. I was sad for him. He hated taking blood thinners to prevent additional clots. He hated the caution he needed to take so he wouldn’t bleed out from unintentional cuts or injuries. He hated me pushing him to do more than retreat to the sofa. He was quiet, withdrawn. Depression was a companion. He battled to accept the many losses of things that were once routine: his job, playing sports, being able. Now he was disabled with no job, and could only watch sports.

It was about this time that I noticed a tremor in my hands. Like that jitter when you’ve had too much coffee. Except I didn’t drink coffee. Maybe it was a fluke. When I saw my PCP, she thought it was anxiety–stress from Ron’s condition and the stress of my job, and stress of medical bills, yeah, stress. No doubt. I had that!

Anxiety medication did nothing, the tremor remained. Then one day at work when providing an oral report in the daily meeting that takes place, the paper I was reading from was quivering. It was quivering because it was in my hands.

IMG_1027Now I was having anxiety over this alleged anxiety!! Then, while in treatment to determine the cause of my hand tremor, on January 18, 2012, my employer of ten years, suddenly and without warning, “eliminated my position.” What? I was devastated. Wait, what? Crushed. Hurt to the core. I laid in a fetal position betrayed. No one could console me. I didn’t understand. I did nothing wrong. Why did they do this? Was it my hand tremor? Because I was unable to hold paper still?

Ron was on disability and I had no job. Fear pooled in all the spaces left in me.

There were many tests of my nerves, muscles, brain, and blood. There were second and third opinions from the best movement disorder clinics. In April 2012, a month before Ron’s third stroke, at the leading Movement Disorder Clinic in the country, I was diagnosed with Parkinsonism at Rush Memorial Hospital in Chicago. I have the symptoms of PD, but it has not progressed into the full-fledged disorder.

I must seek a way to put myself back together because I feel like someone dropped me on the floor. I’ve broken into pieces. What was God doing? God broke me. He dropped me and I broke. What was I going to do?

I didn’t have much time to reflect on that question. Ron came to me saying he had a headache–that’s kinda a big deal when there’s a blood clot lodged in the brain. He also had sudden vision problems.

Back to the hospital where they again tried to remove the blood clot stuck in his brain. No go. It’s still in a location that they didn’t want to mess with. The physicians agreed he should be transferred to Northwestern Memorial in Chicago where leading neurosurgeons were having some success with cases like Ron’s. Well, that could be a life altering experience.

Nope. After a gazillion tests at Northwestern, they weren’t going to touch it either. But they did discover that Ron’s left carotid artery in the neck is 50 percent blocked. Wonderful. Ron’s lodged blood clot is on the left side of his brain. Oh, AND, he’s diabetic. He’ll need insulin injections, twice a day. Okay, so now I know this was some kind of joke, right?

No.

So that’s the story of the past six years. This is how I became a Life Coach and IMG_1267blogger. Ron does a lot of volunteer work at church and it’s given him a purpose in life and it makes him happy. He gets tired quickly, his speech is off, his attention span is non-existent, and he forgets things most of the time. But he’s stable.

We’re both on disability. Oh, and, we’ve lost everything.

I know there are many people with disabilities that are in even worse situations, I empathize. Tell me how you make it through the day. I want what I don’t have. I wish things were different–the way they were before. I play moments the way I want them to be, not as they are. Damn Reality! A life altering experience.

FullSizeRender (5)Think about it.

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay unless otherwise noted

 

A Life Altering Experience – Part 1

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A Life Altering Experience

When my husband, Ron, had his first stroke in 2009, he had just turned 58. How is that possible?

It happened before my eyes. It was Saturday, September 26th around noon. Isn’t it remarkable how we remember small details of a life altering experience?

Ron was standing in front of me; we were chatting about his pinched nerve. Just a week before, Ron became dizzy at work, and his employer insisted that Ron go to the emergency room. A co-worker took him to the closest hospital, and an ER doctor suspected that Ron had a pinched nerve that was causing his dizziness. The doctor referred Ron to a chiropractor.

He had just arrived home from treatment with the chiropractor when it hit.

While standing in front of me, in an instant, the left side of his face from his forehead to his jaw drooped down, and his words became a little slurred. He could walk and move both arms. He had no tingling anywhere or dizziness. Was it a stroke? He’s only 58. Was I overreacting? Did he fit the criteria or warnings of a stroke? I had that debate in my head for about 30 seconds and then took charge.

I told him to get in the car; that I was taking him to the emergency room. Like most men, he argued, but he couldn’t see what I was seeing. Hospital personnel approached my car as it came to a roaring stop in front of the ER entrance. I shouted to him that my husband was a “stroke alert.”

A stroke alert upgrades the time frame and service for medical attention, like upgrading to Firsthospital3 Class from Coach. A page overhead was heard throughout the hospital: Stroke Alert, Emergency Room. The page was repeated two more times. Unwillingly, I began to take this all in. Ron was seen immediately by a slew of doctors and nurses. He started having some paralysis on the left side of his body. Alas, the tingling symptom arrived at the party. And he had a headache now. Ron had IVs inserted, and wires slapped on, and beeping in under five minutes. The doctors asked me a lot of questions. They were glad I got him there when I did. I started trembling, realizing, praying. Everyone had solemn facial expressions and serious voices. They believe Ron was suffering a stroke.

The color drained from my face and fear flooded my body. I looked for a chair and sat down, frozen. Ron went for a priority MRI. I waited. Alone for the first time since this nightmare started, I called our son and totally lost it. He couldn’t understand what I was saying. You know how garbled your words are when you’re hysterical and try to talk? That was me. I finally got out some English—”dad,” “stroke.” Our son was on the next plane home. He also had the good sense to call family, but I didn’t know that until they appeared in the ER. I had some support now. And we all waited. Waited to hear how badly the brain was compromised. My mind drifted.

DSC00239We were living comfortably, at the time, in our empty nest. Ron played softball in a league during the summer and coached basketball during the winter. He was very active and fit. We were both working with great jobs that allowed us to have security in our retirement. Ever since childhood, a dream of mine was to live in the country on horse property. We started looking at small farms nearby.

Our son was happy. He had moved to New York City to pursue his second Masters Degree, plus his girlfriend (now wife) lived there. It was a win-win for him.

Life was good.

Then the MRI results were back. The neurosurgeon approached me. He said Ron was being moved to ICU. They found a blood clot in his brain. The plan was to go in and try to remove it. Surgery was scheduled for the next day, first thing. I swear I can hear this conversation like it was yesterday.

Ron handled the surgery fine but because of the location of the clot, it could not be removed hospital4without making matters worse, like killing Ron. It would have to remain in his brain. The hope was the brain would construct pathways around the blockage. So after a week in ICU, two weeks in rehab, and three months of outpatient psychical therapy twice a week, Ron could walk again and use his left arm. His speech improved. But cognitively, the damage was permanent. Ron would not be able to work again.

The medical bills were staggering. And I mean staggering. Ron sold his 79 Roadrunner, his motorcycle, and his Mercedes. And we still owed over $100,000.

But we were just at the beginning of our crisis. A life altering experience for us wasn’t over.

Tune in tomorrow for A Life Altering Experience – Part 2.

FullSizeRender (5)Think about it.

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay unless otherwise noted

 

 

 

Still Surprised by Disappointment? – Dr. Sandy Nelson

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In the acclaimed 1936 novel Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell writes: Life’s under no obligation to give us what we expect. We take what we get and are thankful it’s no worse than it is.

Everyone knows that life is unfair, yet it’s incredible how we still appear panic4surprised by disappointment and unwanted events. If we really believed that life is unfair, we would expect disappointment and injustice, and be pleasantly stunned when a day passed without it. We would be enormously grateful for whatever we received that day, and view ourselves as fortunate because it wasn’t less. And it really could be a lot less and a lot worse.

Instead, some people expect life to unfold without a hitch and according to plan, and when it doesn’t they’re blindsided. It’s reasonable that some time might be needed to deal with the letdown from setbacks. But then it’s time to regroup and get back to living.

panic3How do you handle the unfair and difficult times in your life? Can you be found in a pouting slump; complaining about how you’re a victim of life? Or, can you be found facing trials with a determination to endure?

Helen Keller wrote: Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.

I don’t know any happy and successful individuals who view themselves as complainers or see themselves as victims when adversity arrives. Those individuals who are determined to face difficulties and accept trials are the ones who become successful and have joy.

There is no doubt that throughout life you will come face-to-face with many trials and hardships. And, there’s no doubt that today, it’s how you handle those trials and hardships that will determine your success or failure; your happiness or misery.

As you go about your activities today, notice what could be worse, but isn’t instead of what’s going wrong that shouldn’t be.

Think about it.

 

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com unless otherwise indicated