Monday, August 17

It Was August 17, 2007 **

** I am repeating this post on the anniversary of mr. kenju's stroke, in the hopes that it will convince someone to go to a doctor and avoid having to go through what we did.

*****

I was furious. Fearful. Uncertain. Sad. Enraged. Worried. Stressed beyond belief. Emotions warred within me for top billing; it is a miracle I didn't collapse. Mr. kenju had suffered a stroke and he was in denial. He thought he had an inner ear infection, and it was making him dizzy. That was ludicrous.

On the Friday it happened, he went to a movie matinee with a friend. It was a fast-paced film, one with strobe-like action that could make anyone's head spin with a constant barrage of images in rapid-fire progression. He noticed the dizziness upon leaving the theater, but he drove home and went to bed. I was working, doing flowers for a big wedding, and I didn't get home until after 7pm. Finding him in the bed then was a bit odd, but I accepted his excuse - not feeling well. The following morning, as I left for work, he was still in bed. And when I returned that evening, he was there again. He didn't tell me about falling, or how he was having trouble moving or using his right leg. He didn't walk where I could see what was happening. He was hiding it from me.

On Sunday morning, when he didn't get ready to go to Mass, I knew something must be drastically wrong. Mr. kenju did not miss Mass except for very good reasons. I questioned him, but I got very little response about what was really happening to him. Over the next few days, I could do nothing but watch as his condition went downhill at a rapid pace. His arm and hand weren't working well; his attempt to pick up a piece of paper from a table ended with him sliding the paper to the edge so he could get a grip on it. I knew then for certain he'd had a stroke. About that time his speech was showing signs. Slurring nearly every word, he yelled at me when I couldn't understand - and blamed it on my growing deafness.

Every time I suggested calling a doctor or taking him to the ER, he got madder by the minute. His face turned red and he seemed to puff up with anger, and at the time I said it looked like steam was exploding from his ears. I knew that the more uncontrolled he was, the more chance there would be for another stroke, a massive one from which he might never recover. In spite of my raging emotions, I tried very hard to keep him as calm as possible. It was the most difficult thing I've ever done, and I wasn't very successful.


On Monday, he began to talk about going to the hospital, only after he had written the checks due at the end of the month and set our affairs in order. I begged him to go right then, saying that bills could wait; his health was more important. It only made him madder. Finally, on Wednesday, he packed a small bag and I took him to the closest hospital. As soon as they had gathered some information, the testing started. His BP was 245/117, and the ER doc who checked us in said he had never seen anyone with pressure that high.


In the first paragraph, I used the words furious and enraged. Do you know why? Because this was preventable. Mr. kenju had only been to a few doctors over the course of the last 30 years. Dentist, opthalmologist, dermatologist - fine. Internist? No. GP? No. His blood pressure, which we had known was elevated for at least 20 years, was untreated. It is entirely probable that had he been under a doctor's care for all that time, and on medication, he would never have had a stroke - or it would have been a much milder one. Knowing this made me so mad I could have screamed. How dare he put us in this position?! I believe one has a duty to keep his or her health at close to peak, insofar as it is attainable through one's own choices.


He was admitted to the hospital, where he stayed for a total of three weeks (one in the main hospital and two in the rehabilitation section). The doctors had a hard time getting his blood pressure stable. It would seem to level off in a good range, and then spike upward again. That has continued over the course of the entire year, until a short time ago. His doctor has finally hit upon the right combination of medications to keep his pressure at an acceptable, lower level. We pray it stays there. He will have to remain on medications for the rest of his life. The number and type of medicines may change, but there will always be a need for them. That is another point of contention; along with proper diet and exercise, and the need for prudence and moderation in all things. Just recently a doctor told him...."If I had had a stroke like yours, and recovered as well as you have, I'd take 50 pills a day, if I had to." (and not complain, he meant)


The changes are noticeable: a cane, a "heavy" foot, halting steps. But there are other changes not immediately evident, and they are mental and emotional. Anger, impatience, intolerance, memory loss and seeing humor where none exists. It seems that whatever personality traits are most evident in a person will be magnified (for good or bad) afterward. They were most evident in the first few months, and have abated a bit recently. There is a tendency to say whatever pops into his head, no matter if it is tactful or not; he seems able to curb that in public, to some extent, but not at home.


My advice is this; do whatever you can to improve your health so that you don't put your family and loved ones in the position of having to deal with the aftermath of a stroke. It's very unpleasant, and it's expensive (even with insurance); and once you have one - you are always at risk for another.

36 comments:

Farrago said...

Thank you, Judy, for sharing your wisdom earned in this ordeal, and for sharing it and showing you care about others.

Star said...

Wow, it's been a year has it? That was a very eye opening post. Sarcasdad has a family history of dtroke and is being treated for high blood pressure. Luckily he participates willlingly in trying to stat healthy.

bobbie said...

I've always felt that marriage meant sharing everything - the good and the bad. But my husband felt he was protecting me by keeping problems to himself. Remembering small things he said and did, I'm sure he knew the seriousness of his condition. I should have been more perceptive at the time. But his death came as a shock to me.

Yes. When we have loved ones dependent on us, we should definitely do all we can to remain healthy - and SHARE with them all we understand about our health.

ET said...

Judy,
I know about the instinct of wanting to hide your stroke from your wife.
On Christmas Eve 2003 I had a stroke at my sister's Christmas Eve Dinner party when helping her hang a picture. I was very dizzy and my eyes locked to the right. At the table I kept quiet and finally Anna figured out what happened when I had a very difficult passing the food around.
She rushed me to the hospital.
I tried telling them I didn't have a stroke, just something made me dizzy. They ran the tests and assured me I had a stroke, which they kept telling me over and over, as if to rub it in my face. People.
The fact that I tried to hide it from Anna made her furious too.

Kay Dennison said...

Sing it, sister!!!!! As a stroke survivor of over 30 years I can relate all too well to what you've said here. And I do realize how hard it is for family members and friends through such an ordeal. It in extricably changes a person forever and isn't always pretty.

Thumper said...

Dang...are you my parents? And is Mr Kenju my mom, because he sure sounds like it... The difference is that she used to go to doctors all the time for fun, but when it mattered--oh no, there's nothing wrong.

This is a very good post, very eye opening. Because my mom used to doctor hop, I think I go to the opposite side. I wont go unless dragged. I'm not doing the Spouse Thingy or the Boy any favors, am I?

Mom said...

Good post. Taking care of our health is one way we show our family how much we love them.

Beverly said...

Wow, Judy, has it only been a year? It seems like you have endured this with Mr. Kenju much longer.

I find it hard to believe that he oculd have survivied at all. To my husband's credit, after he had gone into business for himself, whenever he felt himself getting sick, he got it checked out...couldn't miss a day of work. That was a good thing.

You deserve to be able to rant! Everyone should have to read it. You deserve a medal.

Grannymar said...

Excellent post Judy.

As someone with ischemic heart disease and a bad family history, I agree with you. We all need to know the symptoms and call the emergency services immediately. As I was told "Don't waste time calling family, friends or the GP, call '999'!

Last time I was not given time to pack a bag or phone anyone. I made the phonecalls once I was installed and stable in hospital. Poor Elly, she was on honeymoon at the time!

CAROLYN said...

Great advice! I take my B/P med every morning and have it checked often too. Last Thursday I had an MRI brainscan "just to make sure." Since Dad had Alzheimers, I am so worried about getting it and hope to catch early signs if at all possible!

Mildred Garfield said...

It's hard for anyone that has had a stroke but I think it is especially hard for a man. He's supposed to be the strong one.

In the end I think a woman deals with sickness (her own or her mates) better.

You've had a tough year, hope it gets easier for you. Take care of yourself!!

Inanna said...

You know, before I saw you today I went out and actually bought some good tennis shoes so I can start exercising more. Although I get a lot of weight-bearing and walking at work, I feel like I need a bit more. Also, we Nate makes the honor roll and I have to quit smoking.. well, I'd rather not gain a crap ton of weight.

Another strange thing though... my shoe size has gone down 1/2 a size. I didn't know I'd start shrinking so soon...

I'm thankful that both of my parents are very health conscious. It doesn't mean something couldn't happen but they really do all they can to stay healthy.

I'm not sure how you withstood everything, you're a good woman! Great to see you today! What a surprise that I found you all!

JeanMac said...

Big hug to you from me.

Jay said...

Right you are.
This must have been a very difficult year for you, and I'm sorry you've had to go through it.
It's so important to get to a hospital the very moment that any signs of stroke appear; thanks for reminding us.

Peter said...

Hi Judy, that was a great post about a year from hell, its good to hear that at least some of the problems are easing.
We are certainly complex creatures aren't we, I hope things continue to improve with Mr Kenju.

Mar said...

It's hard to believe it's been a year already... Thanks for reminding us of how important it is to take care of ourselves...and how it can affect the whole family.

Bob-kat said...

Wise words indeed. Kudos to you for staying so strong this past year. I know it must have been very difficult at times.

tiff said...

A year already. Tiem flies in some ways and barely moves in others. While it's wonderful that Mr kenju has recovered to the extent that he has, it also sad that his recovery has not, or will it ever be, complete.

You've done well to survive along with him! ((HUG))

rennratt said...

Thank you for writing this.

I think, for better or for worse, that those we love think they're "protecting" us when they hide illnesses.

They don't seem to understand that they are making things so much worse.

I plan on printing this post and handing it to my husband.

[[[[hugs]]]]

rosemary said...

I can't believe it has been a year.....yup, strokes are a bad thing for everyone involved. In my eyes you are a saint. Glad mr. kenju is in your care.

sage said...

Has it been a year? Thanks for the recap and the reminder.

Laura said...

Judy, I feel for you. Mr. Kenju's behavior mirrors that of my dad, almost to a T. And when he had a heart attack, he wouldn't let my mom call 911. Finally agreed to let her drive him to the ER. They got to the Er, and he wanted her to turn around and go home again.

He's had numerous health problems ever since, and each time, going to the Dr. is a last resort.
The stress this has taken my mom is affecting her health as well. She has never had high blood pressure, until now.

So I feel for you, and I can completely understand your choice in using the words "furious" and enraged. It's entirely understandable when it comes to trying to help someone you love.
My best wishes to you and I hope Mr. Kenju continues to improve, one day at a time.
Hang in there!

Yuliya said...

Hi Judy,
It seems like you're talking about my father. He had a stroke, and his health has been going downhill for some time now. He refuses to seek treatment for his ailments, and he says some things which are better left unsaid.
I am glad that Mr. kenju is getting better.

PI said...

Why is it that the one who cares most about their health and well being is the last one thy will listen to.
I do empathise with you Judy. Let's hope it's onward and upward from now on. Lots of hugs.

Sky said...

and, does he now know that the sooner a stroke victim gets medical attention the better the chances are for full recovery? bless his heart...i am sure he was just scared and hoping his fears were not true. but, we have to figure out a way to conquer the fear and get to the hospital at once. good that he is taking his meds now and hopefully he learned a lot from this experience. hard life lessons....

Badabing said...

Thank you for that post Judy. I can think of several people who should read it...including me. Hope Mr. Kenju continues to improve.

Jamie Dawn said...

Thanks for recapping your personal story of dealing with your husband's stroke and the aftermath.
Your advice and warning is one I will take to heart and remember.
I wish Mr, Kenju well, and I wish you all the strength and patience needed to deal with this.

Evil Twin's Wife said...

Thanks for sharing that. I have a blood clotting disorder that makes me more at risk for a stroke. I take a baby aspirin every day (and will for life) and I also have to monitor my blood pressure at home. I will most likely be put on BP meds in the future, but hey, whatever works, right?

srp said...

And has your adorable (I met him, he is!) hubby been better about prevention and taking care of himself? Hope so. You take care of yourself as well.... people forget about the patient's caretakers and how much stress they are under.

Seamus said...

Thank you once again for the reminder.

Catching up since I was last here. Love the pic of the fawns a few posts ago. Our mamas are bringing their to feed here now - only they don't let them gorge on feed and will shoo them away to browse - they are good mamas.

Gilly said...

Thank you Judy, for showing us what a hard time it can be. I'm just thankful that I finally got Mr. G to the Dr. and they found all sorts wrong! Now I have to try to get him to go for check-ups!

There has been a TV campaign recently about seeing the warning signs of a stroke in someone, and to call an ambulance before its too late!

Arkansas Patti said...

Eye opening post Judy. None of us want to believe we are in danger of losing our health and ability to care for our selves and our loved ones.Loss of control is terrifying. I can only suppose men feel this more acutely than women as they are supposed to be the strong protectors and providers.
I pray for his continued progress and for your strength to do what you have to. Excellent post.

robin andrea said...

I'm so glad you shared this story of Mr Kenju's stroke. I happen to live with someone who minimizes every physical ailment until it blossoms into something much harder to deal with. It's a good reminder to take the little signals seriously. That's why they're there.

LG said...

Thank you for reminding us to communicate and look after each other! That is VERY important in any relationship.

In 1991 my husband had a "major heart attack" and he survived it, because I knew the signs and insisted he get to the ER NOW! He was reluctent but I drove him the 6 blocks. He had a small pain in his chest and his arm was cramping and numbing and those were the ONLY signs. He had his heart attack in the ER and with the help of 4 brilliant doctors they saved his life. He has no signs of this major heart attack today, but he excersises and eats right and loves to be outdoors.

Joy Des Jardins said...

This year was harder than any of us could ever know Judy...only you could know because you lived through it with Mr. Kenju....and, you really didn't write much about it...difficult times or not. One of my very best friends had a stroke a few years ago, and I know exactly what you are talking about regarding the changes it makes it a person. Thank you for sharing this post with us again. Love, Joy

colleen said...

What a story! I can understand a little trying to treat high blood pressure without a doctor and meds but not staying home after a stroke!