3 years ago today, I received the phone call that changed my family forever.
A simple question from Pete's co worker still kind of hangs in the air, "Has Pete been taking is blood pressure medicine?" The answer was no, he had run out of the prescription but refilled it on Friday after seeing the doctor, "Why?". Pete was acting strange, she had called the safety guys and they were "in there" with him. For those of you new to this, Pete had a Middle Cerebral Vascular Accident. Yes, a stroke is an Accident. He had a blocked carotid artery likely brought on by high blood pressure and unchecked choloesterol.
Pete was 53 years old. Way too young to have such an event. Our Anna had just turned 2. Fortunately for us, a child of that age doesn't know anything other than what they experience. To her, it's just daddy and all of this is perfectly normal.
We are also very fortunate that we have had the support of family and friends. Family who took care of Anna so I could go sit with Pete, who cooked for me, and dropped everything to come to the hospital to be there for me. Friends who were of immense support to me on that awful day. I read over 1200 messages from that one day of my friends trying to figure out what they could do to help from their far flung hemispheres. Co-workers who dropped their own work to pick up the slack for me so I could be out for 3 plus weeks and I suppose I should also mention the boss who never said a word to me about that time off ("that" specific time off, let's not go crazy).
Pete's current condition is still very good. He uses a walking stick to get around all but every now and again. He has been siezure free for over a year (knock wood please) and handles his day to day life pretty much as he would have before. We look forward to the day he is able to get back to work. I know it will mean a lot to him.
But, I still feel compelled to point out that this stroke didn't need to happen. Something I have thought about for all this time, but don't want to offend anyone. As I said above, it is very likely that the clots were brought on by high blood pressure. Now, you know I'm no doctor (but I sure sound like one sometimes), but I can see cause and effect.
When Pete had uncontrolled hypertensionm even with medication, he was a heavy smoker. He hasn't smoked for 3 years now. His blood pressure is on the low end of normal. I doubt the stroke reduced his blood pressure. So, if you're a smoker, quit. There are no good excuses for not doing so and it's one of the simplest things you can do to improve your quality (and quantity) of life. I used to be someone who used to smoke, I've sort of become a reformed smoker (the worst kind).
Listen to your body. If something doesn't feel right, don't wait for it to go away. Tingling body parts are NOT normal. Feeling any kind of weakness is NOT normal. Having any kind of interruption (no matter how short) in your vision, speech, balance or general ability to control your body are not just not normal, but are those "call 911" things.
Listen to your doctor. They don't get paid more for telling you to eat right and exercise. Really, they don't. Actually, they will make more if they don't try to get you to be healthy. Think about it.
and Last, treasure your days. Treasure your friends, love your families and forgive your enemies. Go sit with a friend sitting at the hospital. Pray for people who are in trouble. Chip in a couple of bucks if you can afford it when there's a collection for someone, and take a meal to someone who just wants to eat and not think about where it's going to come from. Even if they don't say it, they will never forget you for it.