Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Mark Twain

Sunday, April 26, 2015

A big bump in the road

Monday April 13-Its moving day....they were calling for rain but we lucked out it only sprinkled a little. We are getting into familiar territory now. Driving through St. Louis is always kind of a challenge. Today it was even a bit more of a challenge. Its the season home opener for the Cardinals. We made it thru town and to Ed Babler State Park. Again we have used this park more than once before. Its a real nice park. We found a spot #7, had to fill up with water because these sites haven't a spigot. No sewer either but we do have 50 amp service. The sites are a bit tricky to get in sometimes. We didn't have a problem which was nice. They also have concrete slabs which is really nice and clean. After setting up, didn't take long because we only are gonna stay 2 nights we went to town. Stopped and picked up a few groceries then went to a BBQ place and got some meat to take home and make sandwiches. To finish off the trip its happy hour at Steak n Shake so I wanted a milkshake. We headed back and just relaxed the rest of the night cause tomorrow we are going to the zoo.

Tuesday April 14-Well we were gonna hit the zoo today but around 8 a.m. Jeff said he started feeling weird. He complained of a head ache, sick to his stomach, dizziness, vision problems and numbness on his left side. First he said he was going to go lay down, it wasn't long before he told me I was gonna have to take him somewhere. I didn't know where to go so I told him I was going to go ask the hosts. When I got back he had called 911. Which was what we should have done in the first place. He knew then what was happening. The fireman arrived and were wonderful.. they not only took great care of Jeff but gave me very easy directions to get to the hospital. I grabbed my purse and headed out. The camp hosts told me not to worry about anything here. They took care of the dogs. I headed to the hospital, Mercy, it was about a 25 minute drive from the park. The firefighters gave me a stroke phone so the doctor at the hospital could ask questions until I arrived. The bad thing was it was an older phone and when the did call I didn't know how to answer. They called 3 times. I did have a cell number of one of the firefighters so I called him and he called the hospital. Then they called me on my phone. It was a long stressful drive to the hospital. When I got there Jeff was in the emergency room. They had given him one CT scan and no bleed in the brain. They wanted to start a special stroke medicine called TPA, you only have about a 4 hour window to use this. With the quick response of the rescue team we were ok there. By 9:30 they had started this medicine through an IV. I asked what else could we do and they said nothing. It took about 1 hour for all the medicine to get through his IV.  It was hard being down there by ourselves making all the decisions but you do what you have to. By this time Jeff was really dizzy and his vision had gotten worse. After you get this medicine you have to lay in bed for 24 hours. Its the only FDA approved treatment for ischemic strokes. It works by dissolving the clot and improving blood flow to the part of the brain being deprived of blood flow. During this procedure Jeff had some pain in his left ear and down his neck. They rushed him back in to get another CT scan and it was still clear. After that they moved him to the ICU. They watched him very close. He seemed to be improving but it was very gradual. He was very sick to his stomach and couldn't really get any sleep. I hung out most of the day in the hospital. It was hard to head home but around 8 p.m. I headed back. I didn't have any idea how long he would be in the hospital or how long we would have to be in St. Louis. Right now its one day at a time.

Wednesday April 15- I sure didn't sleep very well. I got up early to make coffee, which I never do....I showered and paid for 2 more nights. The bad news is the weekend is booked up so not sure what we will do about that. One camp ground host came down and took our dogs out, fed them and had lights on for me when I came home. Another host was busy trying to find a spot for us over the weekend. I waited til about 9a.m. hoping I'd miss rush hour traffic. Its always busy though. When I arrived Jeff was feeling way better. A lot of his strength had returned. He was still dealing with vision problems and dizziness. The dizziness was making him sick to his stomach so he couldn't eat. Jeff likes to eat and usually does it even when he's sick. Around 10:30a.m. they got him up to stand and do some walking. He was dizzy but walked pretty good without much assistance. Next test was an MRI around 11:00. We thought the doctor would be in around 1:30 or 2:00 but that didn't happen. I think the not knowing was the worst. They were an excellent hospital and had a very good stroke care unit. I wasn't sure I was asking the right questions and Jeff didn't know what to ask either. During the day we had 3 different physical therapist come in each working on a different area. It seemed we waited most of the day for the doctors. Finally around 5:30 we got some answers. The first doctor didn't really explain things to well. By the time the neurologist came in I was a bit upset. I think she saw that and showed us Jeff's MRI and explained it a bit better. He feeling a lot better and by 8:00 they moved him to a room on another floor. This floor had special training in stroke care. Jeff loved the nurses and they were all very helpful and caring. We got even better knowledge from some of the nurses. They knew how to explain things. When I left the hospital that night I felt way better about the way Jeff was improving.

Thursday April 16- Jeff called me early, I thought that was a good sign. He was starting to worry about where we are going to go for the weekend. I told him I would go up and talk to the hosts. She told me she was trying to get ahold of her supervisor and would let me know. I brought Jeff some stuff from home and filled up the truck on the way in. I had never put fuel in either. Looks like I'm going to be learning a lot of new things. When I arrived I thought Jeff looked way better. He even got to get a shower so after that he felt way better. He actually got some of his appetite back. It wasn't long when we received a call from the campground telling us we wouldn't have to move...they are going to take care of things. Boy that was a relief. We even had a complete stranger offer to move there camper so we wouldn't have to. Nobody really prepares for things like this but we were in the best place. The campground and the hosts were so helpful and really eased our minds. The emergency care Jeff received was quick and precise. The hospital that we went to was one of the best stroke care units in the country. We didn't have family around but the people around us felt like family. During the day they continued to work with Jeff. By about lunch time they came in and said Jeff would be coming home today. Both of us were surprised, but happy. Then they asked Jeff about putting a heart monitor in him. After all the tests they still aren't sure what caused the stroke. He has had blood pressure issues for years but was on medicine and it has been better than its been in a long time. His cholesterol could be better but wasn't on medicine, so they want to rule out A fib. They came in and implanted a heart monitor and gave him a home based communication device. He just needs to be within 6 feet of it at midnight for an automatic upload of information that goes to the cardiologist. After that procedure and explanation we were getting close to heading home. It was about 6 o'clock when we left. I stopped to drop off his prescriptions, and back home. He is on a daily aspirin and Lipitor. We had instructions and are doing the best to follow them. We both thought it would be better to hang around the area to make sure everything stays the same. It was good to be home.

Friday April 17- It was good to be home in our own bed. I started a notebook to keep track of Jeff's meds. He has some for headaches, dizziness and nausea. Then we have daily meds too. He also has to check his blood pressure 3 times a day. They want him off of his blood pressure medicine for a couple weeks but watching it to keep it within a certain range. A lot to keep track of so that's why we started a notebook. I ran to the store to get some fresh fruits and vegetables. We are trying to get him on a better diet. Jeff did some walking and is working on working his brain as well. We watched the campers pull in. I saw one back in next to us. It was in the handicapped spot. That's whose spot we took. I went out to thank them and he was very nice. Then I went to go pay for the extra 2 nights and they wouldn't except it. We have been well taken care of that's for sure. Everyone here has been a blessing to us. So today we just enjoyed being at home, getting things figured out.

Saturday April 18- Jeff slept better last night. It was a very nice day out. We sat outside and enjoyed some of the sunshine. Spent a lot of time on the phone talking to family. Then Jeff started to explain some of the 5th wheel operations, the big foot levelers, the air hitch system, and some of the other things that Jeff had always done. I'm going to be driving her back to Keokuk Iowa tomorrow. I'm a bit nervous but most of that is in my head I think. Now we are just praying that the rain they say is heading are way wont arrive. I don't need anything else to hinder me. I'm ready to get moving down the road and closer to family. We will be stopping in Keokuk for a few doctor appointments then on to Cedar Rapids and our kids and grandkids. I have to admit this wasn't what we expected but we were blessed to be in a place that cared for us like we were family......we felt loved.