My family went through a scary time in March when after my mother had a few transient ischemic attacks it was discovered that her left carotid artery was blocked and she had a brain aneurysm on the other side. So they operated first on the immediate problem – the blockage of the carotid artery with clot, and in early July, they will go back in to take care of the aneurysm.
She was fortunate that the TIA’s did no damage and acted as alerts to the underlying problem. In spite of having gone to her GP with my mother in December and questioning what could be causing her lack of energy and despite having two different blood pressure readings on her two arms, there was no followup treatment. The doctor just said the stress test that I had to insist upon seemed fine for someone her age (this was relayed over the phone in January).
Later we found that oftentimes a blocked carotid artery is missed because the GP does not listen to the blood flow in the neck. Two months later my mother was airlifted to Portland, so please advocate for yourself and your loved ones. Thankfully, the ER doctor did the proper tests and got her to a hospital that could deal with the serious problem.
It’s been a roller-coaster of emotions for us. Each family member reacts in a different way to immediate stress and fear about the possibility of loss. Trying to decide what path to take when the options are each fraught with risks is hard enough but more difficult when we have different opinions and our emotions are on edge. Lots of old family dynamics crop up. All I can advise to anyone in this position is to try to be calm and forgive yourself and others when you or they lose it. I am grateful to the friends who had an open ear when I needed to talk things out, outside the family. It helps if one has faith, but it is still like staring into an abyss and praying you don’t have to fall yet.
My mother is recovering. Initially I believe she dealt with depression at finding herself suddenly without any energy when before she was amazing for her age.I often say, my mother usually had more energy than me! It was also difficult for her to realize that my father (who is 8 years older and has some early signs of dementia) had a more limited capacity for understanding (and emotionally responding) to what was going on. But she is slowly getting better. She is back in her beloved garden, (although she wears out much faster than before), and is learning to know her limitations. Most importantly, in the last couple of weeks her spirits have improved.
Spring is flying by, and I long to be hitting the road, but for the time being my road must be one that is closer to home. So I’ve been rediscovering the beauty in spots I’ve been before and others that I can discover that are within a more finite reach. These are my limitations I must accept for the time being. And with that acceptance, I am trying to remain conscious of all the beautiful blessings my family and I have had and still have and to feel gratitude.
When I’m feeling restrained, and fearful, it’s not easy. I tend to get frozen or want to take flight. I feel full of deep sadness that like a black hole absorbs all of my light and energy. Instead I have to breathe, and find a spot within me that like the beauty of nature encompasses all joy, all suffering, challenges, truth, endurance, and the faith that our spirits are indomitable.