Onwards and Upwards


Hungover, sleep deprived, in shock or whatever. When you are up against it something inside your befuddled brain kicks in to overdrive and you deal with it. Having Googled everything I could possibly ever need to know about a stroke, I understood what the short and long-term scenarios might be, depending on the severity of the stroke. I did not know at that stage what part of my mother’s brain had been affected but unlike many stroke victims, my mother was, according to the Ward Sister I had spoken to at 08.00hrs, still able to voice her grievances. So her at least her speech was not severely impaired.

During 2011, just before my mum had her stroke, the NHS reported that as many as 500 people a year die in the UK alone from a missed stroke. So what if I had soldiered on for longer, struggling to look after my mother after three GPs had failed to diagnose that she had had one? What if I hadn’t thrown all my toys out of my pram and demanded that she should be admitted to hospital with a Urinary Tract Infection?

By lunchtime, I had telephoned everyone I needed to. I stopped the papers, canceled my mother’s appointments, adjusted the central heating, so it wasn’t pumping out tropical heat 24/7.  I walked the dog and arranged for someone to let him out and feed him in the evenings. Actually, I didn’t, my mother’s next-door neighbours with hearts of gold, had volunteered to do it, along with anything else they could help with. You find out who your true friends are when the chips are down.

Finally, I did a comprehensive grocery shop, which consisted mainly of ready to cook meals for one, treats for the dog and for my mother, as well as taking advantage of an extremely good offer on Pinot Grigio. Finally, I packed my rucksack with everything I thought my mother might need.  It was still snowing, so I put a shovel and a blanket in the back of her car, together with the one and only CD I had brought with me for what was supposed to have been the weekend and made the first of my 20 odd daily round trips to Cheltenham.

I was organised, I was calm. I would speak to the consultant and find out how bad the stroke had been and what the long-term prognosis would be. When the doors to the Stroke Unit were unlocked to let the anxious-looking visitors in, I knew where to go from the wee small hours of that day but, if I had had any doubts, I would just need to follow the sound of my mother’s voice which was echoing through the corridors. When I reached her bedside, I planted a kiss on her forehead. ‘I’m very glad to see you.’ She said, slurrily. ‘I thought you were never coming! Get me out of here will you? I am surrounded by old people.’

Next … Settling In

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