I’m a huge fan of Christmas. I love hanging tinsel on the Christmas tree, the twinkling lights, singing carols, the delicious food and my beautiful family and friends ~ but most of all I love Christmas miracles.
Five weeks ago my husband had a stroke. We’d just returned from a fantastic holiday, cruising through Asia with our two daughters. Our youngest daughter aged seventeen has just finished school, after struggling with too many life hurdles to mention and our eldest daughter has been my partner-in-crime and best friend; both so deserving of a big family holiday. My husband works on rail maintenance out in our great rural mid-west, where temperatures reach 45 degrees Celsius on a regular basis. He is my solider and the rock of our family. I work full-time at Royal Perth Hospital ~ a desk job. He’d returned to work after our holiday and whilst at work, I received the call.
And I did. But I also shook uncontrollably ~ so thankfully I was sitting down.
The call came from my husband’s HR manager. He assured me immediately that my husband was okay. He assured me he was in good hands, he was on his way in the Flying Doctor to Port Hedland Hospital, and the stroke had only affected his speech. He offered to fly me to Port Hedland but was positive they’d be able to fly my husband down to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, so I chose to wait in Perth. The rest of the day moved like a weird dream. I had to tell our girls, which was one of the hardest things I’d ever done. Then we needed to tell their four brothers, my step-sons (from my husband’s previous marriage). Once that was done, we all just processed and planned: constantly supporting each other ~ and waited for our soldier to be brought home to us.
Meeting him in the hospital’s Emergency Department admissions ward was bitter sweet. He looked so confused and vulnerable, it broke my heart, though I hid it well. The following few hours were going to be hard and I knew it was critical to be strong (tears could flow when I was alone).
There were questions. So many questions. But first the stroke was explained.
A vessel in my husband’s neck had narrowed (nobody knows why) ,and with his blood very thick and creating an overload of red blood cells, a clot or blockage had formed. This clot had somehow dislodged and ended up in the front left hand side of his brain, blocking oxygen and causing the stroke.
So, this was processed. Okay, so he was able to move, unlike many stoke victims I’d seen. He just couldn’t make a proper sentence. He was definitely confused, but the doctors assured me this would get better with therapy.
48 hours later, he woke to discover he couldn’t move his right side. It was completely limp. He panicked. We all did. They rushed him off to a CT scan and discovered his brain had swelled since the initial stroke. Doctor’s orders were to rest. Lay flat and no visitors. Another 48 hours and they needed to ensure the swelling had gone down, otherwise they’d have to open his scull and release the pressure.
The total rest and no visitors worked! Now it was going to be a matter of therapy. Occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy. We’d have to get used to it, like it or not ~ and be thankful we still had him.
Five weeks ago my world spun me on my head. It shook things up like a giant tsunami and spat me out gasping for air.
And now – after emotional, physical and financial pressure I’d never imagined I could handle – I’m still a huge fan of Christmas and the Christmas miracle I’ve been gifted.
My husband is home. Although much like a giant 5 year old, he’s making great progress. He’s showering himself (on a chair), he’s toileting himself, he’s managing the use of a fork and spoon and he’s walking around the house (although a little like a drunkard). We’re starting to return to life – not as normal as before – but we’re getting there. There are some adjustments, mostly just taking life slower, and we have started to understand my husband’s speech a little easier. He’s still our soldier, even more so now.
We have six beautiful kids, adults themselves, who take a lot of my heartache away just by being with us. Two gorgeous grandchildren. We have the best family and friends anyone could ask for. And we have each other.
Christmas will be different this year, but I think it might be my favourite one ~ because I have my very own Christmas Miracle.
Merry Christmas everyone xx