Six months ago, my mother had a double stroke.
One day mom woke up with a sharp pain in her neck, thinking it was just stiff from sleeping wrong, but it never went away. The aches and constant exhaustion from the daily cares of homeschooling, running a house and teaching band twice a week were wearing her thin. She had been experiencing physical weakness and pain for a while, with little relief. The pain was growing steadily worse.
The day was March 5th, 2012. It was a busy day for all of us. We had a dress rehearsal that afternoon and my mom was due for a third chiropractic appointment and hair appointment. I knew something was wrong when she left, but when she returned, she seemed utterly drained. Her movement was slow, devoid of energy and she spoke with a quiet voice. She needed to rest, but what could she do? She had to be at a dress rehearsal in which she was conducting.
We hadn't gotten far from the house when mom suddenly slammed on the brakes. We were thrown forward as the car came to an abrupt halt.
Fear seized my heart as I realized something was horribly wrong. "What's going on?"
"Put the car..." my mom slumped forward against the steering wheel, breathing heavily, "...put the car in...neutral!"
I swiftly pulled the lever to park. "What's wrong?" I leaned towards her, trying to see her face. "Are you ok?"
"No...I'm just...so dizzy..."
She had vertigo before and it usually passed. This episode only seemed to get worse I began fumbling in my purse, trying to find my cell phone. Not sure who to call I dialed the first number that entered my frantic mind.
The phone seemed to ring far too long. Silently, I pleaded with God to let my dad answer. I glanced at the confused and concerned faces of my four sisters who sat quietly in the back seat. Finally I heard my dad say "Hello?"
Relief washed over me at the sound of his voice and I told him what was happening.
"You need to get out of the road." He told me.
I got out of the car looking to see if any cars were speeding by on the busy rode. Thank goodness we had stopped in one of two left turning lanes, so we weren't in anyone's way. I went around to the driver's side and opened the door. "You need to move so I can drive."
"No...no, I can't..."
"You have to try!" I tried to help her move.
She didn't budge, clinging to the steering wheel like a last hope. "You don't understand! If I move...I'll throw up..."
I tried to coax her from the seat, but finally gave up when she refused even to move an inch. Near to tears, I returned to the passenger's side to call my dad again. I pleaded with him to come get us. With my dad on his way, we had nothing to do but wait.
My mom was looking worse every moment.
"Are you sure you can't move?" I asked her again.
"I can't! I can't!"
I circled around to her side again and tried to move her, but it was no use. She kept saying that everything was moving and I remember her asking me if the car was shaking. Please God... I prayed, please let her be okay! Almost hopeless, I was about to head back to my seat when a strange car pulled up along side our suburban. A man rolled down the window from the inside and called to us. "You all right?"
Unsure of this stranger's intent towards us I told him "My mom is sick, but we're fine. My dad's on his way."
The man pulled his car off to the side of the road and got out. "What's wrong with her?"
"I think it's just a severe attack of Vertigo." I kept my distance from the man watching him closely. "She's had it before."
"Do you need to call someone?" he asked.
"I called my dad. He's on his way now." I repeated.
"Do you need to move the car off the road?"
"I tried moving her but she can't stand up." I said. "I know how to drive but I can't get her out of the driver's seat."
He stepped up to the open door. "Ma'am," he addressed my mom. "We have to get you out of the seat. Do you need help?"
"No..." She answered faintly. "I can't..."
I saw a police car out of the corner of my eye, coming up the road towards us. It slowed to a stop and the policeman got out. It didn't take long for him to call an ambulance.
The paramedics had to help my mom from the car. She was far too weak and disoriented even to move on her own. The first time they tried to move her, she threw up almost immediately. The extreme dizziness she felt made her sick to her stomach. She swayed to and fro when she tried to stand upright.
You can't understand what it's like to watch as a parent is carried to an emergency vehicle. The helplessness, the fear, the desperate pleading with God to "please let her be alright!" are things that you will never empathize with unless it happens to you. I pray that it will never happen to me again.
She was my best friend and she had always been there for me.
I stood there alone, shocked, knowing that my little sisters were weeping in the car. I watched through tear-filled eyes as she disappeared from my view and the door to the ambulance was shut.
Post to be continued...
Next Post: The Stroke: Part 2
Next Post: The Stroke: Part 2