Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The First One -- Part One

I can't remember (the hazards of a cluttered mind) if I have ever posted much about Marty's first stroke. If you are reading new information -- good on ya -- if you are reading retread stuff, read it anyway, it might be better this time or you can simply read it and count how many times I misuse quite and quiet -- trust me it's a lot.

April 2, 2005 we are at our home in Waco. It's about a year since Marty's Father, Arty, has passed away from a massive, unexpected stroke, about six months since Marty was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and about three months after TXU divorced me.

I'm just starting to feel somewhat normal and Marty and I are just starting to figure out how to live with each 24 hours a day again. Marty is going through the house cleaning out excess bedding, counting blankets and quilts (about 30). I'm outside working in the yard. I am filthy, sweaty, nasty, a good cleansing kind of dirty. It's about 2 p.m. and we have both worked through lunch.

Marty called me to come in inside, she said she is not feeling well, that she has a bad headache. I'm aggravated because I'm hungry, I still have things to do outside, and I'm just kind of a grouch. Marty is sitting in our living room in the blue leather chair our cat had scratched the day we bought it (funny what sticks in your brain). She is sitting back in the chair and says, "I have the worst headache I've ever had". I would later understand the significance of these words.

Headaches were nothing new to Marty, they were something of a constant and I was a little perturbed she seemed to be making a big deal of this one. I, of course, tried to cure the headache, that’s what husbands do, we fix things. Advil, Tylenol, ice bag, hot pad from the microwave? She had already tried Advil. The cold sounded good to Marty, but it was no help. Time was moving, Marty wasn't getting better, in fact she was getting worse and my grouchiness quickly was moving to anxiety. I finally broached the subject of an ambulance. I knew it wasn't good when Marty said that was probably a good idea.

In Woodway, where we live, the police arrive first after you call 911; they were there within five minutes, the ambulance soon to follow. When the EMT's arrived they checked vitals, none of which were really alarming but Marty still was in a great deal of pain and was nauseated. They asked if we wanted them to take her to the hospital or if we wanted to go ourselves. Marty said she didn't think she could get up, I said we are going by ambulance. This was the last time I would see Marty sit up for about two months.

We got to Providence Hospital and to the emergency room quickly and were moved to a room (sort of a room) with three walls and a curtain. I knew nothing, I did not know how to behave, what to expect or who to expect. I was a hospital novice; Marty was the one who knew how to do this stuff. I answered all of the questions I could about Marty's habits, medicines, etc., etc... Marty's head was still killing her and slowly, very slowly I was beginning to see levels of uncertainty and confusion in her. She was a bit confused about what was going on, where we were, why we were there and what people were doing.

A young red-haired doctor in cowboy boots came in and talked with us briefly and ordered some pain relief for Marty and told us what he would do next -- CATSCAN. The CT scan was done within about an hour. It was now about 5 p.m. or so. We waited. The baby doctor (very young) came back and said he was afraid he had some bad news; the CT showed Marty was bleeding in her brain. This kind of washed over me and my ignorance once again protected me, I had no idea of the implications.

My first thought, okay, let's fix it, you can do that; she doesn't appear to be that sick, I can't see any blood, she's just getting more and more confused and making less and less sense. Let's do this, I thought. Baby Doc says they can't fix it here; they need to do a better neurological x-ray and then decide a course of treatment. They would send us to either Dallas or Scott and White in Temple, whoever could take us. It was about 6 p.m. on Saturday. I said let's go.

At about 7 p.m. they came in and said we were going to Parkland Hospital in Dallas. By about 8 p.m. Marty is loaded into an ambulance and I have secured a promise from a really nice EMT lady she will call if anything happens on the way or when they get to Parkland. I now realize I might not ever see Marty alive again and fear and anxiety start to claw at my insides and my brain. We are about to start a new course for our lives and I can feel it and it's really, really scary.

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