I’m Driving Now

carw-flowers2It is the eve of my Brians second hip replacement. He had his right hip replaced in 2007 and was back surfing in four weeks, not that he should have been. That’s just Brian. At fifty nine he was the specimen of fitness. Apparently he wore out the hip joints from 1,000s of miles training and running marathons.

That same year Brian developed atrial fibrillation. That is an irregular, and in his case very rapid heartbeat. Brian saw several cardiologists and was finally referred to a doctor in San Diego for an ablation procedure. We waited months for the procedure because this doctor was the best in the field.

The morning of the procedure we drove to San Diego and checked in for pre-op. As the doctor’s assistant explained the procedure he came to the part about the possible risks. By this time Brian is prepped and in his gown. I have been in pre-op with loved ones many times and not skipped a beat when they tell you of the risks. When the assistant said there was a 1 percent chance of a stroke a foreboding feeling came upon me. I told Brian, get dressed we are out of here. It is very out of character for me to react so seemingly irrational but I was serious. We asked the assistant to give us a moment. Brian prayed and we decided to proceed. We were both still uneasy, but what rational people get up and leave at that point. The procedure went much longer than expected and I was anxious. (the next day I broke out with shingles for the first time)

Brian woke up in recovery and insisted they go and get me immediately; we were very emotional and shed tears of relief that he didn’t have a stroke.

Ten days later on October 27th 2007 6:00 am I got a call from the police dept saying Brian had been in a car accident and they think he had a stroke. I arrived at the hospital to find Brian talking but with some obvious but slight deficits. He was having trouble lifting his left arm. We were asked if we wanted them to administer the TPA, clot buster shot. After having the risks explained and much deliberation with doctors and family we decided not to. Brian had a blood clot that went to the right side of his brain. Soon his stroke turned to a bleed in his brain. The bleeding and swelling in his brain went on for about five days. He was not expected to live. By this time the entire right side of his brain was dead. I really didn’t understand at the time the gravity of his condition. On day five Brian was not responsive. His vital signs were dangerously high. I was in his intensive care room with a friend and a nurse when Brian opened his eyes. He said to me, there is a battle going on for my life. I said Brian tell me about the full armor of God, which he had memorized from the book of Ephesians. As he spoke the Word of God he immediately began to improve. We knew we had witnessed a miracle. Satan was defeated by the power of the Word. Brian would live but the effects of his brain damaged were not removed. He began the long battle of rehabilitation. Brian was a black belt in Karate; I now say he has a black belt in physical therapy. The entire left side of his body was paralyzed.

I remember the first day at the rehabilitation hospital they took Brian in a wheel chair to the work out area. They sat him on a mat and he fell over. The therapy was intense. They worked him three times a day for an hour. During that time he got pneumonia and another blood clot in his leg. Brian could still speak clearly but he had no filter what so ever, I was never sure what would come out of his mouth. He was and is a star of rehab. The old rule of thumb for stroke victims was, what you gained in the first year was pretty much it. I can tell you that is far from the truth. Seven years later we continue with physical therapy. After a month in the rehab hospital I brought home a shell of my old Brian. Next he went to an outpatient program four days a week for six weeks. He graduated from a wheel chair to a walker. Next a four prong cane to a regular cane. For five years he wore a brace on his leg until one day he said he was done with it.

Life as we knew it came to an end on October 27th 2007.

So tomorrow morning when they explain the risks of Brains surgery I will be taking them seriously and prayerfully with my eyes wide open. (April 12, 2015)

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