Jim, an 88 year old decorated WWII veteran suffered a stroke on his birthday, tail-spinning a happy celebration into a frightening, near-fatal experience. In the days following, Jim’s wife, Gloria, and daughter, Natalie, rarely left his side in the hospital room.
Two days had passed since the stroke and Natalie left her mom in Jim’s hospital room in a quest for coffee. Upon returning, Jim was fast asleep and Gloria was nodding in her chair. The aroma from the coffee awakened her.
“Calvin’s here, he’s parking the car now. I’ve asked him to meet us in the hallway. Better to warn him first before he sees Dad. Shall we tell him together?”
Gloria nodded, and rose to her feet. Natalie wrapped her arm around Gloria’s and they entered the hallway as Calvin approached. His long arms embraced his mom and sister in one huge squeeze.
“How’s dad? Is this his room?” He pointed, as he started toward the room.
Natalie stopped him. “Yes, but he’s sleeping now. “I’m so sorry – I should have come sooner, but I’ve been so … oh, never mind.” Calvin cleared his throat. “What exactly did the doctor say?”
“Here’s what we know.” A tear fell onto Natalie’s cheek as she began. “Dad’s right side was affected. He has difficulty speaking; he can’t dress himself, and can’t use the bathroom without assistance. They have him on a special, soft diet, and he hates it. He doesn’t want to eat.”
Gloria’s eyes welled up as she grabbed Calvin’s hand. “We have to force him to even get out of bed. We try to help, but he pushes us away. “Your father’s life is over.” Gloria shook her head, wiped her nose, then tucked a fresh tissue up her sleeve, “That’s what he thinks. He’s not himself at all. My Jim is a fighter, a man of strength and courage. Your dad didn’t even react when I told him I won a blue ribbon at the Washington state fair with his favorite apple pie or when I told him that ten-year old Matt had beaten me at Checkers.
”Calvin’s mouth dropped open. “What? That doesn’t sound like dad. He survived Normandy’s Omaha Beach in the aftermath of D-Day, for crying out loud. If anyone can get through this, he’ll recover, right?” Natalie shrugged. “The good news is that because he is fairly healthy overall, there’s a good chance he could return home after rehab.” “Rehab?”
Voices coming from Jim’s room drew their attention. They hurried to his side and found him awake. “Hello, I’m Doctor Anderson. I assume you’re his family?” Natalie made the introductions. “What can you tell us? “We’ve conducted multiple tests by physical, occupational, and speech therapists. Those results help to determine the extent of the damage so that I could develop the best possible course of action moving forward. Jim’s scores revealed that he is a moderate fall risk. He requires assistance with toileting and dressing. Nursing reported his decreased appetite. Speech therapy has implemented a mechanical soft diet and is working on his speaking difficulty. I recommend, and I believe I mentioned this before, that Jim be discharged to Valley View Rehab, a skilled nursing home, for 1-2 months. Here, Jim will be closely monitored and his progress assessed daily, but Jim must continue making gains on the therapy goals. He may not return to full function but I believe there’s a good chance he could return home after rehab.
“So he can recover? “Not without some effort on his part. But I believe Jim could regain many of his skills and mobility with Valley View Rehab. Do you have any questions for me? ”Calvin scratched his head. “Well, Dad, what do you think? The sooner you recover, the sooner you’ll get to taste Mom’s blue-ribbon apple pie that you’re so fond of.”
All eyes were on Jim, and to their surprise, a small smile appeared on Jim’s face and he nodded yes. There was hope after all.