11 December 2006

Prayers Needed

For my Dad, who suffered a stroke this morning. And for my Mom.
Two members of The Greatest Generation.

I'll be flying to New Jersey tomorrow and will post updates when I can.

Thank you.

Update: Friday 15Dec2006 2230 EST

Thank you for your prayers and the many well wishes I've received.

My Dad was moved out of the Intensive Care Unit yesterday. It has been determined he suffered two strokes almost simultaneously, one affecting the speech part of the brain and the other affecting balance/coordination. There is no paralysis.

He was able to eat for the first time Wednesday evening after tests determined his swallowing reflexes were functioning. When we went to visit him before he was transferred to the regular ward, we found him sitting in a chair eating his lunch.

Since the meal included meatloaf and vanilla ice cream we knew he must have selected it himself ;-)

He's experiencing a certain amount of confusion and mixing up some of his words, but doing his best to communicate. He was grilling my Mom yesterday about when he can come home, and kept saying a word she couldn't understand. Then he started talking about a birthday.

"Whose birthday?", asked my Mom. She gave him a piece of paper to try and write it down, although his writing the day before consisted of nothing but squiggly lines.

In clear block letters he wrote, "GOD".

God's birthday. He wants to come home by Christmas.

Update: Wednesday 20Dec2006 1105 CET

My thanks again to all of you. Your prayers and kind words have meant a lot to us during this very difficult time.

My Dad is making very good progress and should be released from the hospital today. We had a bit of a scare over the weekend when he ran a temperature for a day and an x-ray showed possible fluid in the lungs, but that cleared up quickly.

He'll be going to rehab for about 3 weeks before coming home, so we've been busy selecting a facility that best meets his needs. Continuing the therapy started in the hospital is crucial for continued improvement.

Numbers are a bit of a problem, as is writing, but he's able to speak in complete sentences now and is much less confused. In fact, the other night he explained to my sister where he hid the Christmas presents he had bought for my Mom. He wants my sister to wrap them for him.

We are very encouraged and incredibly thankful for his recovery so far. The change over the past week is nothing short of amazing.

One of the most important factors for my Dad's positive development to date was the administration of a drug called tPA, which must be done within 3 hours of the CVA (cerebrovascular accident). For this reason it is critical to get immediate treatment for the patient, preferably at a hospital with a dedicated "stroke attack team". I encourage everyone to know which hospital(s) in their area specialize in this treatment and make sure patients are brought to that facility regardless of where the patient's physicians practice. You can sort out the doctors later.

tPA is not appropriate for all patients or for all types of strokes. It is also considered controversial by some and is not without risk. But when appropriate, can make a huge difference in the patient's neurological outcome.

We still have a long way to go. But as I said before, things look very encouraging and for that we're extremely thankful.

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