My daughter Celine was so excited for home coming night her senior year in high school.
She had a big job. She was in charge of organizing the West Bloomfield High School homecoming parade and she took her job seriously. Her friends scrambled making her orders come to life. It was the first time I saw the bossy side of my daughter.
Now I see how she became Class President at Stanford University and why she meets with the school president every few weeks.
I was very proud of her. I tried to stay out of the way and not be a parent hovering over his child. But Celine included me in some of the decision making and she came up with the bright idea of having me ride in the parade.
So I hopped in a convertible near the end of the parade and waved at people as a woman slowly drove me to the West Bloomfield High School parking lot. Later that night I watched from the sidelines as Celine shivered on the field as a member of the homecoming court. She didn’t win, but it did not matter to me. I got to see her in action as a leader.
I walked off the field a proud poppa. But my glee didn’t last for long.
I felt my right arm go numb in the cold and I began to clutch it and baby it. First I thought it was the chill of the night settling into my old bones. But my wife Abs knew something was wrong. She said one side of my face was drooping.
The worst was happening. I had my second stroke on a football field while watching my daughter parade around on the homecoming court. I rushed home without saying good bye. I did not want to spoil the evening for Celine who went out for pizza that night with friends.
The first stroke scared me the most because I never had one. But this was the one that knocked me out of the box. It zapped me of my personality and energy. Abs took me to the emergency room that night where I ran into the same doctors and nurses that took care of me six weeks earlier.
“Hey mister,” one of the doctors joked. “We did not expect to see you back this soon. You must like us.”
I did not understand this one. I was doing everything right. I took my meds. I ate fish, grill chicken and steamed vegetables. I downed water by the buckets. Yet, I was spending three more nights in the hospital.
A transporter wheeled me back to the stroke unit. The same nurses that took care of me the first time were on duty. They looked like they saw a ghost.
Why was I back?
I drew the same room as before. I could see a defeated and sad look on Abs’ face. What was I putting this woman through? I wanted our golden years to be joyous, not transporting me to the hospital every 30 seconds.
Nurse Amy came by my room that night. She woke me up every two hours to make sure I had died that night. And she asked me the same questions to test my mental state. Where was I born? Who was running for president? What city was I in? Name one of my childhood friends.
“You know there are a lot of shocked people in my unit,” she said. “You were the last person we expected to see in here. We heard you were doing so well, exercising and eating right. What happened?”
I don’t know. Someone surmised that my body was out of sync because it was the second stage of bad news. During the course of two months I’d have two strokes, two seizures and an episode where the room spun around like I’d been trapped in a giant dryer. That was the scariest episode, but doctors said it was the least dangerous.
While the room spun out of control I tried walking to the bathroom, but kept banging into the walls while collapsing to the floor. I could not take this any more. For a third time I asked Abs to take me to the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.
Doctors treated me for stomach flu and luckily I did not have to spend another day in the hospital. I went home that night afraid to leave the comfort of my bed. I did not want the room to spin again.
One day I sat on the couch in the living room with my lap top cradled on my lap. My son Brandon was upstairs when he heard the laptop crash to the floor. He rushed downstairs to find me motionless with the computer by my side on the floor.
I don’t remember any of this. The only thing I remember of this day was my neighbors Joe and Nancy walking me to another damn ambulance that idled in my driveway.
Guess where I was going.
During my series of medical collapse I never felt pain. But I felt a lot of guilt. What was I putting my family through? I hated the looks on their face. They were concerned for dad. Would I make it out of this alive?
I was used to being the bread winner and taking care of of my family. Now they were watching over me.
I did not like the feeling.Find Terry Foster Podcast here: