My daddy suffered a stroke last Sept. 1, 2016.
They were having breakfast when my sister-in-law, Ella, noticed him. The right side of his face was drooping and his speech was starting to become slurry. He drove to the ER in the morning with my mom. When they checked his blood pressure, it was 200/120, after 15 minutes it went up to 220/120.
I was still in the office when my mom confirmed that they were taking dad to the ICU already. The emotion I had that morning was unforgettable. So many questions flooded my mind. The fear was real, my emotions too much. I couldn’t take it. I ran to the service elevator and cried.
After pulling myself together, I called my sister, Kim, and we headed home as fast as we can. When we reached the hospital, I saw my dad in the Heart Section. He looked tired. I asked how he’s feeling but he just looked at me with tired eyes. I suddenly felt sick, like I wanted to throw up. The doctor called for the relative, I raised my hand. She had this sad look and her voice was heavy, “Sa taas ko na lang po sasabihin yung findings…”
Findings? Did she find anything? Is it serious? Am I going to lose my father? Where are they taking him? I wanted to cry. Luckily my sister was there and her mere presence somehow gave me comfort. It’s true what they say, you find strength in each other during difficult times.
There I was, helping the nurses wheel my dad in the ICU, negative thoughts flooded my mind. I saw patients with all kinds of tubes strapped in their bodies. My mind went numb with fear. The nurse told me I can’t stay, and I had to wait in the area for relatives beside the ICU. I went out so fast I thought I flew. Everything was a blur. I found myself staring at the blank wall in the relative’s area.
Fast forward to that evening, the doctors confirmed my dad had a stroke, which was a result of his high blood pressure. Unfortunately, dad’s BP was still high, so there’s still a risk of getting a second stroke within 48 hours or worse, cardiac arrest. My heart did another cart wheel. I started to pray really hard. I even asked my friends to pray for my dad, because I know that only HE can save him.
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),” Ephesians 2:4-5 NKJV
Dad was restless in the ICU, he could not sleep for very long, he was anxious. Because of that his blood pressure did not go down as fast as we wanted it to (even with medications), exposing him to the risks I mentioned above. But God is still merciful. He is gracious. Even in the midst of our doubts and fears, His saving grace has touched my dad, because after 3.5 days in the ICU we finally moved to a regular room.
We were so happy. It was a collective sigh of relief. My brother, Nikki, though out of the country was texting and calling every day to check on dad. This episode shook us to the core, emotionally, mentally, physically, and financially. To top it all off, the doctors told us that we should prepare for the possibility of my dad in a wheel chair. Our hearts were shattered. Can you imagine my alpha male of a father sitting on a chair with wheels? I certainly can’t, though the doctor was quite serious at the time. All we could ever do was pray and trust God.
True enough by September 8 (Mama Mary’s birthday), we were already checking out of the hospital, and my daddy could walk. All glory belongs to God!
Our journey did not stop there, while my dad was recovering at home, he needed my mom to assist him in almost everything. My mom had to stop going to her office so she could take care of dad. Such an incredible woman, my mother. She’s the rock that holds us all together. She took care of dad all throughout and showed no signs of fatigue or stress, even though I know she’s so tired. Her strength was my fuel and it gave me the power and the will to move forward during those times that I felt so down and afraid.
Dad underwent therapy for a few weeks. He showed signs of improvement in his right arm and leg. His speech is still a little slurry but he can enunciate words more clearly now. He also had some weeks where he wasn’t eating a lot (or at all). It went to the point where my mom made him drink milk so he would have some nutrients in his body. I went home once or twice a week to bring him some of his favorite foods, to encourage him to eat. Those were some of the hardest days for me, not because of the commute, but because I was afraid again, that the unthinkable would happen. I would sometimes cry at night while praying to God to make him eat. During those times, only the thought of Jesus’ healing hands can comfort my heart.
Because God is merciful, my daddy celebrated his birthday last December 9. Stronger and happier, he is a living testament that nothing is impossible with Christ. His appetite is almost back to normal, his speech has improved a lot, and he doesn’t need assistance in his daily activities anymore. He’s driving again, short distances. It may take a little more time before he could drive long distances again, but we are not in a hurry, all in God’s perfect time.
There’s a lesson to this story, and this would save your life or your loved one if you know what to do.
According to the doctor, since the stroke is a brain injury, it is important to identify the symptoms early on to receive medical care and prevent further brain damage.
RECOGNIZING A STROKE
Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke.
Three simple questions to recognize a stroke:
- S – ask the individual to SMILE
- T – ask the person to TALK and SPEAK a simple sentence (coherently)
- R – ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS
- T – ask him or her to STICK OUT YOUR TONGUE
If the person has trouble with ANY ONE of the first 3 tasks, call 911 immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher. If the person’s tongue is ‘crooked’, or if it goes to one side or the other, that is also an indication of a stroke. Go to the ER, ASAP.
Going public with this ordeal was a difficult decision for us. The family decided to keep it within our relatives and close friends. However, as we were ‘caught by surprise’ we know that some of our friends and family could (and we are praying that you don’t ever) find themselves in a similar situation. If my post could somehow give you the presence of mind and save a life in the future then I know that God has made me an instrument in His miracle. Also, I would like to give hope to those who have loved ones who had just suffered a stroke, or is in a similar situation. I feel for you. You are not alone. God is with you all the way. Be patient. You may think you are in a bad situation right now, but trust me, things are going to get better in God’s time. Buy your loved one their favorite food, make them watch their favorite shows, talk to them more often. Engage them in a conversation, they may not respond the way you would like them to, but your mere presence would make them feel better. Know that he/she needs you now more than ever, and that you are enough to make them happy. Pray to God, He knows the desires of your heart. Christ in us is our only hope of glory.
The battle is not over, we are still fighting. It has been 6 months since that fateful day, but my dad is still recovering. It was a total lifestyle change for him. No alcohol, no cigarette (well, this is an ongoing battle-royale), no more late-night hoohaa’s. We are extremely lucky. We know some people are not. In fact a week after dad’s release from the hospital, his close friend since childhood passed away due to cardiac arrest induced by a stroke. He was devastated. Life goes on, though, and the whole family is here to help him on his way to full recovery.
To copy my dad’s standard reply to our “I love you” messages: Daddy, I love you more than my life! You and mom, are our shining light. 🙂
Daddy, Mommy, and Kuya Kingkong during Noche Buena