Monday, April 23, 2001

Well, it would seem that I have re-entered the land of the living. I am finally feeling better... last weekend was a calm and peaceful one, though not without the ever present emotional rigors that have become a part of our life since Dad got sick. Something I've noticed since the stroke, is that Dad is concerned first and foremost with himself; and his needs... I read something about this in one of the stroke books I checked out at the library. People who go through major trauma and become dependent on others for their most basic needs, tend to (over time) become only concerned with their needs and wants. This is not to say Dad's lost all compassion or doesn't care for anyone else... but man sometimes he can be so freakin demanding!!!! The odd thing is... he doesn't get uptight if it's something like he's hungry or he has an itch... but if I leave a pair of socks on the floor or if there is a vcr tape on top of the vcr, it drives him nuts; he gets very agitated and angry if our attitude towards the "offending object" is somewhat non concerning. My attitude generally is (of course) "it's just a pair of socks, who cares... they're not hurting anything by lying there" But it drives dad up the wall. Sometimes it's one pair of socks that means the difference between a nice, peaceful evening and an all out war... I also wonder though, if dad wasn't sitting there in a wheelchair... would it make a difference in how I reacted to him telling me to do something? It's definitely a point to ponder.

I dreamt last night he got more movement in his right arm back... that he was scratching the top of his head and without much effort. I still have the occasional "walking dream" where dad is free from his wheelchair...


Wednesday, April 18, 2001

It's 10:54, Wednesday morning... I am debating whether or not to drag my lazy butt to work... I have been really sick the last few days. Last friday, I celebrated my 24th birthday by going dancing with a bunch of friends, and nursing a hell of a hangover the next day. It was a great night though, got to see some awesome friends whom I haven't seen in too long. I woke up Sunday morning sick with the crud that's going around.

Dad fed himself a donut on Sunday, it's so wierd to watch him be independent now, after so many months of not being able to do ANYTHING, he now turns his wheelchair on by himself... it's awesome yet strange. It gives me a lot of hope that eventually he'll be doing a lot more.

enough procrastinating, I gotta go get ready for work. Have a great week!

Wednesday, April 11, 2001

Ok, I lied; here is the beginning part of chapter 4... chapter 3 isn't ready to read yet :-)About 3 days after the stroke, the doctors concluded that dad’s stroke was the result of blood clot; not a brain bleed. This was good news… most brain bleeds are fatal; but if the victim survives, they have a better chance of recovery; since the brain cells don’t die. But if a blood clot should happen to block an artery; such as was the case with my dad; it blocks oxygen and blood flow; therefore causing the brain cells to die within minutes.
The only way I can really simply explain it is … it’s as if your brain is map. There are different pathways for messages to be carried. So when you need to scratch your chin, your brain sends a message to your arm and hand to do so. Well when the blood clot reeks it’s havoc; the map is erased, and your brain must; in essence, create new pathways. So we knew what caused the stroke. The next question on everyone’s mind was ‘what caused the blood clot?’ My dad was only 48 years old. Strokes of this type and caliber generally happen to old people. (Or so we thought.)
Many tests later, the doctors concluded that the stroke was brought on by a toxic level of homocysteine in my dad’s blood. Homocysteine is a hormone that everyone has, and high levels are directly related to strokes and heart attacks. Unfortunately, because it is so rare to have such high levels, it often goes undetected until damage is done. Had we known that dad’s levels were so high, we could have treated it with a lot of folic acid and vitamin b-12.
What helped the doctors also determine that this stroke was “Thrombotic”, was my dad’s behavior before he got sick. The sing song pattern of his speech; his emotions running on high, and the general change in his disposition; these were what the doctors referred to as mini-strokes. Basically a prelude to the bigger one. But because these changes were noticeable; but not drastic; no-one thought dad’s health was in danger. We assumed it was from stress or maybe a side effect of those gelcaps. As soon as we found out that the high levels of homocysteine were a genetic defect; we spread the word around the family to go get tested. It’s simply a blood test at your doctor’s office; so far no one that has been tested is outside of the normal range. God willing, no one will be; as we are to continue to be tested yearly.
My days were filling up quickly with panic attacks, headaches, tension, and more tears than I’ve cried in my whole life. I submersed myself in the tasks at hand while I was at work. Interrupted frequently by crying jags brought on by emotional updates from my mom. My cell phone would ring, I would engage in a conversation that left me reeling and would spend the next 10-15 minutes in the restroom trying to regain my composure. I didn’t know it was possible to cry that much. The one trick I picked up was to cut a potato in half. Hold the raw; inside of the potato against your eye for about 10 minutes, and it helps to suck the excess moisture out. I did that at bed constantly; and it was one of the only things that really kept me from waking up with my eyes swollen shut.
My co-workers were undoubtedly a little unnerved by my constant flow of tears. But nonetheless would offer hugs, and verbal reinforcement that everything would be ok. After I would hang up with my mom, they would ask me how things were going, and if I wasn’t ready to talk; if I wanted to be alone, they would let me go, but when I returned, would inquire again. Travis; as my supervisor, kept offering to send me home, or to take off early and chill out. I never took him up on it; partially because I couldn’t afford the time off, and partially because despite my emotional state… I would rather have stayed there and kept busy then to sit and dwell on the unpleasant things. The strange thing was if I wasn’t crying, I was laughing. I remember one day in particular, my coworker Lee had embarrassed himself in front of a customer and we had all gotten a good laugh out of it. Throughout the day, I would remember it and would begin laughing, and literally couldn’t stop laughing upwards of an hour or more. Lee was laughing along with me, he said my giggles were infectious. We were driving Travis and Dominic absolutely nuts. They kept yelling at us to stop, but I couldn’t. It was physically impossible for me to stop laughing; I tried and tried but with no success. As irritated as they were at our incessant laughter; I think they would’ve rather listened to that than to my sobs.

Tuesday, April 10, 2001

One day till I turn 24... dun dun duuuun... ( scary music ) I don't think it would bother me normally... (here's a bit of truth: I hate my birthday... all the way up until the actual day I'm a mess... depressed, bitchy ... then when it actually hits... I have a blast... go figure.) Anyhoo, dad is going in tommorrow for his first baclofen treatment... it's a temporary fix... if it works, he will have surgery to insert a hockey puck like object near his spine to secrete the baclofen over 5 years or something. If it works, it will reduce the scissor effect when he tries to take steps, and will help with the tone and resistance in his muscles. Last weekend he surprised the hell out of my mom and all of us, he managed to turn his wheelchair on all by himself, and use the joystick to get himself to the back of the house. (He is able to use the joystick; but hasn't been able to lift his arm enough to put his hand on it; and turn it on). Another step in the right direction. :-) So anyway; I will paste part of chapter 3 tommorrow... ( I'm trying to build suspense for all... 4 or 5 of you who actually read this page :-p )

Sunday, April 08, 2001

What a relaxing weekend. We went out to dinner for Lori's birthday on Friday; and ended up staying awake until 3 am or so; which made saturday feel like a sunday... it was nice. I went and got my hair done today... basically just a nice long weekend. No complaints here. I worked a little on the book yesterday... a little. I will paste another portion of the book in here sometime this week. If you have any critiques, email them to me at Have a great week!

Wednesday, April 04, 2001

Well, looks like I'll be giving my speech sometime in May; probably May 22nd. (I had the option of the 8th, the 15th, or the 22nd) I am going to give myself as much time as possible. I took some pictures of dad in his standing chair last night; from sitting to standing; I'll take some pics of him in his wheelchair today too. He asked me what they were for; and I have noticed that I am hesitant to discuss the book or the speech with him or mom... don't know why that is. I have yet to give them the address for this weblog as well. It's strange; I don't know why I am shying away from this... I am determined to be productive today... no excuses! It is a beautiful wednesday morning, and other than the fact that I almost rear ended someone on the Boeing Access Road (woops!) It'll be a great day. :-) Have a great one!

Tuesday, April 03, 2001

Wrote four sentences today... aiming for 10 tomorrow! Wish me luck...

Monday, April 02, 2001

Well, it's about 9:15 am, Monday morning. My dad's health care worker called at 7:20 to say she would be late, and then again at 7:40 to say she wouldn't be making it in. Nothing leaves me feeling more helpless than these calls. It makes me so angry...these health care agencies that have people working in other peoples home's, there's no substitute worker plan... no back up. If the worker calls in sick; there isn't anything you can do. So I called my mom, (who by the way has been notified that 20,000 jobs in King County are in jeopardy due to budget problems... they say her job is safe but who knows) and she is on her way home right now... the reason I am so mad aobut this is ... my mom makes double what I make; and though she is covered by the family medical leave act; I wonder if HER job is in jeopardy because she misses so much time. Then there's my dad who during all this keeps apologizing, and is on the verge of tears; saying that he feels more like a liability and a pain in the ass than anything else. Just another day in the polenske house. People keep saying to me that dad's gonna get better, and life will get easier... but when? Because it seems like even as he gets a bit better; other things get worse. when does it ever balance out?