I don't know why I havn't blogged for the last year. I always post on stroke-net. Well here goes. It's been over a year since Rachel had her stroke. One year, 3 months, and 16 days to be exact. I can still remember that day as if it were yesterday. My husband John and I were out for the evening. Rachel was at our house with a friend. We were an hour from the house. Rachel told her friend she felt funny. Moments later she became dizzy. She passed out on the couch. Her friend had to call 911. He called us, but we didn't get the call for another hour since we didn't have reception where we were.
My other daughter Nikki was also called. She was out that evening also. Nikki got to the house before we did. She rode in the ambulance with Rachel, who was non responsive.Nikki was only 20 at the time and terrified for her sister. She had to play the part of mom and dad for a while and that was scary to her.
Our ride home was the longest hour of my life. I was crying frantically not knowing what was going on. John had to calm me down so he could drive. Rachel was taken to our hometown hospital. They weren't sure what was going on. They did a cat scan and found no bleeding in the brain. The stroke didn't show up at this time.
We were about 20 minutes away from the hospital when Nikki called and said they were taking Rachel to another hospital 35 minutes away. We then had to go there. "Please God, Let Rachel be alright" is all I kept saying.
Upon arriving to the hospital we found Rachel in the ER. She wasn't talking, only moving her left arm up and down, as if she was trying to tell us something. We were all so scared. Many tests were ran. Still no one knew for sure. My husband had been a nurse for 25 years. He told me "I think she's had a stroke". I had no idea what he meant. "I thought older people had strokes", "she couldn't of had one". This can't be. The doctors said she had the signs of a stroke but nothing was showing on the tests.
It wasn't conclusive until the next day that Rachel had a massive ischemic stroke. Her right side of the body was affected. We were told that it was very large and that Rachel probably wouldn't make it through the night. Our whole world was falling apart. These words we were being told didn't seem real. Rachel still couldn't talk, move her body, only the left arm, couldn't swallow, and was almost lifeless looking.
I'm happy to say that she proved everyone wrong. It took a few days, but she started to move her body more and more. The right arm hasn't returned yet, but were still hopeful. The right ankle is still not moving, but maybe in time. Rachel had a wonderful speech therapist that helped her learn to swallow again. Rachel was afraid at first. She started with sips of water, ice, juice, pudding, jello, etc. She was afraid at first to try anything else. She felt like she was choking.
I remember the next couple of months were like being in a dream. Nothing seemed real. We were so tired, not sleeping well. We were confused and scared that we were loosing our baby girl. It's just the worst feeling in the world. We stayed at the hospital with Rachel. I couldn't bear to leave her sight. She was scared and so was I.
Every little thing that Rachel could accomplish seemed like a miracle. Writing her name again for the first time. Writing all her family down on a dry erase board. It was like watching everything for the first time again. She couldn't remember how to write everthing so this was difficult for her. She didn't know what happened to her at first. She never had heard of stroke. It was difficult to explain, but we did. She cried and so did we.
Rachel stayed in the hospital and rehab a total of 56 days. Nikki and my husband would visit daily. I only went home around 5 times. The hospital was so good to us. They just let me move in. They gave me a bed, let me shower, and wash my clothes there. They knew Rachel was petrified as was her mother.
Rachel went to physical, occupational, and speech therapy everyday but Sunday. It was grueling for her. So much to re-learn, so much pain, so tired, so much medication. Rachel hated it at first. All the patients were much older.We went to group therapy everyday. I watched as everyone struggled with their own deficits, wondering where Rachel would be in a week, 2 weeks, etc...
Rachel started liking group therapy. She be-friended all the other survivors. They enjoyed her so much too. It was good therapy for all involved. The therapists would make everyone feel so good about themselves. As time went on some survivors went home, or to nursing homes. Rachel would cry when they left. Everyone became a type of family linked by the same thread-STROKE.
Life was changing. Our minds were always working 24/7. What are we going to do? How can this all be happening? To this day, I still think back to why this happened to our precious angel. I don't dwell on the why so much anymore. We are blessed and thankful for today. Everyday is a miracle.