At this time, 1 year ago, I was sitting at Mike's bedside in the ICU at Hartford Hospital. At 6:30 am, 1 year ago today, Mike bolted out of bed. He ran right into our bathroom to see if his left eye was swollen closed - he saw only blackn...ess. His head was still pounding, as it had the entire week before. I wanted to call an ambulance, but he didn't want to scare the kids. I immediately called and woke my mom and told her that I needed to get Mike to the closest hospital ASAP. While we waited just moments for her to arrive, Mike went into each of the kid's rooms to give them a kiss before we left. The kids knew about the weeklong headaches, and of his scheduled appointment at 2:00 later that day. I simply told Sam that the appointment was earlier than we thought and that Grandma would be helping with the morning routine.
As we drove down 691, Mike became emotional saying that his vision was starting to return some. The closer we came to the hospital, the better the vision became. We arrived at Midstate where a team immediately sat him in a wheelchair and performed the typical neurological testing for stroke. Mike could walk, he was using both arms and clearly speaking and vision in left eye was improving. He was "fast tracked" into a CAT scan. Doctor quite confidently said that he believed this could be a side effect of a migraine. While in CAT scan I phoned his Dad to explain what was going on. He planned to head for hospital. As we waited for the doctor to return to room with results of scan, Mike tried to encourage me to sit down. His words were jumbled and he recognized that. Within moments the doctor returned and explained that the scan showed sign that he may have had a stroke. At that very moment, in an instant, Mike turned to look at me, but it was a stare that I had never seen on his face before. The doctor was asking Mike questions, but he didn't answer. The doctor would hold Mike's arms up, but they flopped to his side. The doctor would hold Mike's legs up, but they flopped to his side. I will never forget the expression on the doctor's face when he stared right at me and said, "We have already called in air transportation. Mike will be airlifted to the Stroke Center at Hartford Hospital". Preparations began immediately and at the same time an angel, Naomi, appeared at my side. She was the social worker that didn't leave my side until Mike's dad arrived. She was right outside with me as the LifeStar team wheeled him towards the helipad. Mike's dad arrived and he drove me to Hartford Hospital.
When we arrived he was in another series of CAT scans and testing. There were several calls to family members and within a short time Mike's mom, grandma, sisters and brother arrived. Doctors kept coming in to give us updates on the procedure they were attempting. Each one was more wonderful than the last, but they continued to tell me that my husband was very ill. Hours passed and we were faced with the reality that there was nothing surgically safe to perform. We would have to wait for Mike to wake from sedatives. He was moved onto the ICU floor and several hours later we were able to take turns visiting him.
Throughout the entire day, all I could think about was how I was going to break this to our kids. What was I going to say? How were they going to react? I needed to be by his side, but I needed to be home. Thank God for family and friends!
I feel very fortunate to share the photo below that was taken a few weeks ago on our 14th wedding anniversary. This was definitely the longest FB post I have written. It was therapeutic for me to relive this day. Please continue to send your thoughts and prayers. Mike will continue to heal and we graciously accept your continued support. Weedstrong.
Connecticut School of Broadcasting put together an anniversary video. They did a great job, but couldn't have done it without the participation from Penny, Bob, Vin, Jim, Pete and Mike & kids.
http://youtu.be/UaIXAsi5qzA See More
May 1st marks the start of Stroke Awareness Month. Ironically, May 17th will mark the one year anniversary of Mike's stroke. For each day in May, I will be posting facts and warning signs along with photos to show what pure determination and self-motivation looks like. I ask that you share Mike's story and spread the word about stroke awareness. Together we are Weedstrong!
From the day I left Mike at Hartford Hospital, I have been wearing his wedding ring on my right pointer finger. I needed to have part of him with me as I left his side to brave the storm and care for our children and home. Tonight I can report that Mike once again wears his ring. He was discharged from Gaylord today and day therapy will continue 3x/week. We are all so happy to have him home. Mike has a series of dr appointments ahead and we still need your continued thoughts and prayers as the journey continues. Love to all ~ Heidi
It's bad when FB is sending reminders that page needs to be updated! Mike continues to make great progress. While at a Dr's. visit at Hartford Hospital last week, the physician said that the scans and notes she was looking at on computer did not match the patient that was sitting next to her. She was thrilled with h...is progress in only 2 months. Mike has been without a wheelchair for over 2 weeks and continues to build strength. He was able to wrap his right hand around a lacrosse stick over this past weekend and his joyful hollering could have been heard around the neighborhood. Mike is starting to attempt sending e-mails and maybe even approaching Facebook. Reading & writing are still a struggle, but skills are improving along with his speech. Mike is insisting on doing everything he wants and most of the time I have no choice but to give in. For those of you familiar with the steep hill leading to pool at Copper Valley, Mike successfully walked up it to the parking lot on Sunday - not my idea as I dropped him off down at pool. The powers to be at Gaylord are estimating another week after this and then he will return for therapy several times a week from home. Please keep your prayers and positive thoughts coming our way. We couldn't do this without your support. ~ Heidi
Independence Day has taken on an another meaning for Mike and our family. He is coming home for the day! Yesterday our prayers were answered. Starting tomorrow, Mike will be part of the Aphasia Day Program at Gaylord, living in the Traurig... House. This is a transitional living facility separate from the hospital. Mike is an ideal candidate for the program and his doctors and therapists support this next step for him. The best part is that the kids get their daddy home for the weekends! Mike's first choice was to come home every night, but he knows how valuable this step will be to him. His progress has continued down the same path. Yesterday he was downgraded to a single pole cane. OT told me that his shoulder is back and there are signs of returning bicep and tricep muscles. Speech too is coming along. His PT and I got a good laugh out of new phrase this week, "bite my tongue". Mike let Meg, Vin & I know yesterday that he was going to write a book. So proud of him. Continue to pray and send positive thoughts. Thank you again. ~ Heidi
Mike has continued to make steady progress. I had my first phone "conversation" with Mike on Saturday night. It was challenging because he was looking for ITunes password, but he is having trouble identifying letters. Tonight I called him and he did surprisingly well with small talk. Therapists are pleased with his daily/weekly progress. Today I was given permission to walk with him without supervision. Speech improves every day and his arm continues to make slow progress. As much as the kids and I need him home, Gaylord has been amazing and we can only hope he can continue to get the therapy he needs. Thank you again for all your thoughts and prayers, don't stop now. ~ Heidi
Photo is from Saturday morning when kids and I took Mike home for a trial run. We weren't able to get him inside, but Mike LOVED sitting on the patio watching the kids and just being home. We gave Brandt his birthday gift a day early, a mountain bike that he enjoyed watching him ride.
I told a therapist this am that Mike needs a "determined patient" sticker on his forehead. He has put his determination into high gear! Today's walking was significantly better than on Friday and he once again tackled the stairs. Last week he was upgraded from 4" rise to 6" rise steps and a medium-based quad cane. During today's session on exercise equipment, Mike asked to be moved to a harder level. He has physically stopped me from assisting with shoes, etc today and spirits continue to stay very high. OT has seen just a little muscle movement in right arm and hand and he says the feeling is coming back. Without a DOUBT, Mike's determination is directly impacted by the outpouring of support and prayers. So - keep 'em coming! ~Heidi