Our last "normal" day was March 31, 2005, but we didn't know that then. We had gone to dinner at a new Mexican Restaurant, watched a little TV, and went to bed. He tells me (I slept through this part) that he woke up about 11pm because he smelled something burning. He looked outside and didn't see anything, and went back to bed.
About 2AM he woke me up, saying something was wrong. He was dizzy, couldn't walk without stumbling, and had what he described at the worst headache in his life. So we sat up in the living room for a couple of hours, seeing if he would get better (He'd had one episode where his BP spiked, and I took him to the ER. At least that's what they said it was. Symptoms were similar, but not as severe. I'm not sure he didn't have a stroke then, a couple of years ago). We went back to bed for an hour or two, and when we woke up he was no better, so I took him to the VA clinic when they opened at 7:30AM. They immediately assessed him and sent him to the local imaging clinic for an MRI. The technician there was not very supportive, and Rollin couldn't handle the tube. I asked to sedate him and he said no. So I took him home, stopping to tell the DR what had happened. He said he would have ordered sedation if the tech had called. I tried, what more could I do? So they said take him home and if he gets worse over the weekend, take him to the ER. Monday afternoon he had an open MRI. He was still scared, but they let me sit on a chair and hold his hand through the procedure. It was after the VA clinic had closed by now, and so we went directly home. About 5:30PM calls me and says he'd had a stroke. I remember my response "Oh, really?". He told us to be back at the clinic first thing in the morning.
He had some trouble walking the first couple of days, and so they gave him a cane. He only used it once and never needed it again. No paralysis, no loss of speech or body functions. And as I told my girl friends, he didn't drool! (~_~) Sometimes if you don't find the humor in the situation, it becomes way too overwhelming and depressing.
He tried to drive that first weekend, before we knew it was a stroke. After he ended up on the wrong side of the road, going the wrong way, he pulled over and I drove (if you knew me, you'd find that amazing--I avoid driving whenever possible). But stroke changes you, not just the person who had it, but the caregiver, too. You should see me drive now. I had no choice for the first three months, if I wanted to go somewhere, I'd have to drive!
Other than short term memory loss (he's a cook by trade, and the first time he tried to cook potatoes for dinner I went into the kitchen and found them turned off. I asked him and he said they were done. Of course I put a fork in them and they were hard as rocks. He'd turned the burner on, turned around, and turned it back off, thinking they were done) he's suffered from fatigue (takes a couple of naps a day) some depression and a lot of short-temperdness.
But we try every morning to hug, to kiss good bye (I work, he doesn't) and to repeat our mantra "Today's a new day."
It does get easier, but every day's a struggle.