After being dull, ugly, and dormant for almost a year after its final blossom bit the dust, my orchid has sprouted about 8 new buds on the stem. Funny how just a few months ago I considered throwing it out because it was becoming an eyesore in my apartment. But I didn’t…and I kept watering it regularly and making sure it got enough sun.
My dad had a stroke on Tuesday December 8th.
He’s 70 – he’ll be 71 in January. He doesn’t walk with a cane, he loves to drive, he’s a hockey fan, and he always ‘gets carded’ at Shopper’s Drug Mart because he doesn’t look like a senior. Even nurses at the hospital said he was ‘very good-looking’ and that ‘he doesn’t look older than 59’. One nurse asked me if he was a doctor because ‘he looked like one’.
My dad’s not your regular garden variety. And nobody in my family has the same spunk or sense of humour that he does. I admire him for his ability to persevere through hardship – he had a hard life growing up yet somehow made it on the right side of the tracks.
And there I was in the emergency room looking over at the man who always loved talking a mile a minute and cracking jokes like they were going to become illegal. I’ll never forget it. He looked dead. His eyes were fixated in one place, glazed over and looking to the top far right. He couldn’t move his left arm or hand at all, and his speech was slurred so much that you could barely understand him.
I found out he had a stroke when I was at work. My mom called. (She always told me that she wouldn’t disturb me at work unless it was an emergency, but strangely enough, when she called, I didn’t think it was weird. I thought she was going to ask me about something trivial like my holiday office hours or a forgotten password.)
When she told me, I think part of my mind went blank. I felt as though I was in some sort of sick ‘dream’ and that I would wake up and say, “Oh, thank God it was only a dream!”. But it was real.
My hands and body were literally shaking as I told HR that I had to leave work and go to the hospital. The last time I shook uncontrollably like this was when I was in elementary school and this douche bag tried to break into my home when I was home alone. (I scared the fucking bastard off by yelling, “What do you think you’re doing?” out the window, by the way. Sometimes even criminals have a conscience…or fear of getting caught.)
I’ve never seen my dad like I did on December the 8th. And I’ve seen him through a lot. In 1993, he had a successful quadriple bypass surgery. Years later, he had a very minor stroke that we didn’t even know was a stroke until we saw 2 neurologists. (One was an asshole, but the other was really helpful…and interestingly enough, this good neurologist was at the hospital when my dad had his 2nd stroke and he remembered my dad!)
Maybe I’m clairvoyant because I booked off my vacation from work from the 10th to the 16th in advance. It’s almost like I knew that something would happen. Weird how things work sometimes, right?
During that time, I met with tons of doctors – pharmacists, general physicians, psychiatrists, physical therapists, etc. They all said the same thing – he may never regain all the functionality he lost.
I was at the hospital every single damn day. I was there for practically all the time that visitors were allowed to stay. And I was fucking exhausted. Every day, I’d wake up, open my eyes and think, “How’s my dad?” and “What time can I get to the hospital?”. My every waking moment was about hospital-related events. And I even had some ‘dreams’ about visiting my dad at the hospital. No wonder I was so fucking tired.
But each day, there was a ray of hope. My dad is a trooper like no other. And thank fucking God! (I really need him! I’m closer to him than anyone else in my family.) Each day he had some significant improvement. One day I noticed that his eyes were moving more and finally he was able to look around normally. Another day, he regained his use of his fingers and left hand.
His speech didn’t improve.
Oh yeah, and did I mention that when he had the stroke, he was at TD Bank? I will forever sing their praises because they called 911 fast. My dad was at the mall and decided to line up at TD Bank. He almost went to get coffee at McDonald’s. Can you imagine how slow their employees would be to call for an ambulance? Also, my dad told me that he had left his cell phone in the SUV. He normally would go back to get it, but that day, he didn’t. I’ve thanked God that he didn’t because if he had the stroke in the parking lot, chances are that nobody would’ve noticed and called 911.
Sometimes banks aren’t all evil.
When I arrived at the hospital, guess what? Lots of my dad’s stuff was missing – wallet, down jacket, car keys, and shoes! We thought someone stole them because the idiot hospital workers couldn’t find it. I felt dizzy just thinking about it. My brother said that we should get a locksmith to change the locks at my parents’ place. And we had to find the spare car key so we could drive it back home so it wouldn’t be towed at the mall’s parking lot. As if we didn’t have enough things to fucking working about!
After a lot of stress, the hospital workers finally found the missing belongings. And thank God! When you’re going through something as awful as this, the last thing you need to worry about is your security!
Since then my dad’s been transferred to another hospital. Then on Friday, he was moved to a rehab centre where he has to live for 2-3 weeks. We’ve asked the doctors and he can have a pass so he’ll be able to come home for Christmas. But then he’ll have to go back to the rehab centre. That sucks, but at least he’ll be out for a little while.
As selfish as it sounds, I feel like I’ve been robbed of my Christmas. It’s about spending time with family and having happy memories. I hate hospitals.
But some good has come from it all. I’ve learned the strength of my brother and mother. I’ve also seen a new side of my boss that I haven’t seen in 4 fucking years – he actually HUGGED me and acted genuinely concerned! I’ve also witnessed the power of the human spirit and how even a person suffering from a stroke can bounce back and make the best of it.
Through all the positive, though, I can’t help but cry and wish it weren’t so. I miss my dad the way he was before. I miss not having to worry so much. I’ve forgotten what it’s like not to cry and have swollen eyelids. Life sometimes sucks. But we get through it. Supposedly we become stronger people because of hardships, but I think I’m still a softie.
Please keep my dad in your prayers. And please pray for me, too, because I’m not as strong as I would like to be and need to be. There are some tough times still to come, and I could use every ounce of help. I ain’t too proud to beg!
I want to be like my orchid.