Thursday, June 6, 2013

More of the stroke

Today we went to the doctor. Tank's foot is coming along alright I guess. The doctor yelled at him for walking on it too much. But he said it didn't look bad. We go back next week for another check.

Now back to the stroke.

In the ER, we waited for 3 hours, since we just told them he had a headache. They're not going to put a rush on that. But once we got back into the actual examination room, things went faster. And once the ER doc heard that he had had this headache for three days with throwing up and no fever, alarm bells went off and he ordered a CAT scan. This of course made Tank and me stand up and pay attention. See, even now, we were both still thinking he'd be getting a shot for the pain and we'd head home. So the CAT scan meant there was something really wrong. And we just didn't have time for that. Especially right here before Christmas.

They wheeled him back and I waited but not for too long. And it wasn't much longer after they brought Tank back to the exam room that the attending doc came in and gave us the news. Yes, there was something on the scan. It was either a stroke, a tumor or a bleed. Of the three, the stroke was the preferable option, he said. Ugh.

So they wheeled him up to his room and I came up long enough to make sure he was settled in ok and someone had given  him a sandwich. Once the nurse started getting him ready for bed and giving him all his drugs, I gave him a kiss and headed home. It was already midnight.

When I came back the next morning, I brought a change of clothes and Tank's phone. Somehow I still believed this was no big deal, they had made a mistake, and he'd be coming home today. I waited around in Tank's room for a little while alone, since he was out having tests run. When they brought him back, they said he'd gone out for another CAT scan, an MRI, and some other things that I can't remember now.

Tank was all drugged up, too. He was on a lot of pain killers but his head still hurt. Soon, the neurologist came in and explained to me what had happened.

Tank had most definitely had a stroke. It was the kind where the vessels pop in your head as opposed to the kind where a clot breaks loose and causes blockage. He had swelling on his brain that they had to get down. Also, his blood pressure was through the roof, so he had to go to ICU immediately.

I realized then that he wasn't coming home that day.

I wasn't able to go with them when they took him to ICU. I had to wait out in the waiting room while they got him in his room there. Once he was in and hooked up to everything, the nurse called me back. That was on a Sunday, and I don't remember much of the rest of that day. Except Tank apologizing, and then saying "So, I guess I'm not going home then?" He was in so much pain and was on so many drugs that he really had no idea what was going on.

More later.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Stroke

So about that stroke that Tank had.

It was December 12, 2012. Yes, 12/12/12. If I didn't know better, I'd swear he planned it that way.

Anyway, that was a Wednesday. It started off as usual. Tank dropped me off at work and went on to his job. When I went to lunch that day, there was a text from him telling me to call him when I got the chance. So I did and he told me he was at home. Said he had a bad headache and his boss sent him home to rest. Then he asked me if his speach sounded slurred. That sent up red flags of course. But I told him he sounded fine, which he did. We hung up and for the most part I forgot about it.

My sister came to pick me up that day and I told her what had happened. Oddly enough, she got it right. She said it sounded like a stroke. I thought "surely not" and kind of dismissed it. When I got home, Tank was in bed and said he was pretty sure he had the flu. He had started throwing up and he said he had body aches. Wonderful.

So Tank laid in bed the rest of the day. The next morning he didn't seem any better and he was still throwing up. I asked if we should go to the doctor but he said no, he'd be fine. I was off that day and I'd occasionally go check on him. He slept most of the day. He'd get up every now and then to use the bathroom or get something to drink. And when he did, he'd lean to the left when walking and sometimes bump into the wall. But, stupid me, I let it go.

That night he was still in bed and still throwing up. His headache hadn't gotten any better. That's when I knew something was up. Tank never got headaches and if he did, they were the garden variety that went away after 30 minutes and some Advil. I asked him then if we should go to the hospital. "No... I'll be fine... it's just the flu and I don't want to pay them $300 for a Tylenol." Whatever. I felt like I should try to do more, but what was I going to do? Drag him outside? Looking back now, I should have called an ambulance. But I was clinging to the hope that he was right and this was just some bad flu.

Next day, Friday, more of the same. Before I left for work I asked him again if we should go to the doctor. And he still didn't want to go. So I went on to work after making him promise he'd call me if he needed anything. When I got home, it was still the same. He was in bed, his head was still pounding, but he wasn't throwing up anymore. We thought that maybe he was getting better.

Saturday was kind of a repeat of Friday. I got up, asked him if he wanted to go to the doctor, then went on to work when he said no. I got home that afternoon, checked on him, no change. Asked about the doctor. Once again, he said no. Then about 3 hours later, Noah said he heard Tank calling for me. I went in the bedroom and he asked if I'd help him get dressed. He'd finally had enough and was ready to go to the hospital.

I helped him get some shorts and a hoodie on (he used to wear shorts year-round). We slowly went out to the car, and he was moaning the entire way. We almost weren't able to get him into the car, either. Tank's a tall guy and our Grand Prix might not be a tiny car, but the roof is low, so we had to maneuver him around some so he could slide his head in. Even so, he still bumped it a few times and it brought him to tears.

Even through all that, I kept thinking "Surely this is just some freak migraine... gotta be..."

We got to the emergency room in about 8 minutes since we live really close to the hospital. I walked him in, pointed him at a nurse, then went back out to park the car. He told the nurse that he had a massive headache. But that didn't send off any alarm bells. They got his vitals and they must not have been *too* out of whack, because we sat in the ER waiting room for three hours.

Tank rested his head on my shoulder for the most part and kept his hoodie pulled up and over his eyes because the light hurt. Every so often he'd ask me in a joking way "Do they know I'm dying? Because I'm dying. You should tell them I'm dying." He was kidding at the time, but now we know how close to the truth he was.

Ok, that's it for now. Back here in May, 2013, I have to help him with his antibiotics now. I've turned into a regular home care nurse. Yay.

Jack, our cat, tried to help last time. He's not very good at it.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Almost homeless?

And then she woke up from a long sleep...

I've been gone for a while. A lot has happened. We moved from Knoxville to Nashville, my hometown. Because there in May of 2012, it wasn't just me that wasn't working. It was both of us. Tank lost his job and it looked like our best option was to come back home (well, my home anyway), back to Nashville. I have my family here, so we'd have someone to stay with while we got ourselves back together.

And we got our shit together again. We found jobs fairly quickly and got out of my sister's house and back on our own just a couple of months after moving here. Much faster than I anticipated. I got a job in a call center. The money isn't great, but it's better than the unemployment check I was getting. Tank got a job as a leasing agent, so we were able to get a pretty nice apartment for a cheaper rent. The first couple of months in our new lives was a little rocky, but soon we had all the bills caught up and there was even a little extra. We were able to do more than just pay bills and buy groceries. We were getting out a little more, buying a few things we'd been wanting - it seemed like we were ok.

Then on December 12, 2012, Tank had a massive stroke. He spent 5 weeks in the hosptial and rehab. He needed brain surgery and therapy. One day I'll go into the details about that. It was a rough time, mentally and emotionally, but not so much financially. We had a little bit of money in the bank and we were able to get some help from family and friends. Tank had good insurance as well, so even though we owe some on his care, the majority of it was covered by insurance.

The stroke was bad, but it wasn't in a bad part of his brain. He was able to function fairly well after learning how to walk again (he'd atrophied pretty bad from lying in a hospital bed for 4 weeks.) He went back to work about 3 weeks after he got out of rehab. Not really so much because he felt totally up to it, but because our little money cushion was gone and he was afraid he'd lose that job for good. So even though he probably shouldn't have, he went back to work. About a month later, they let him go, saying he couldn't do the job. It all seemed like a setup to me, and I'll go more into detail about this later, too.

Luckily, Tank found another job pretty much right away. He wasn't able to start right away though because the background checks were taking a long time and then the boss lady went on vacation so he had to wait 3 weeks before he could start.

But about a week before he lost the original job, I noticed Tank had a sore on his foot and it wasn't healing. He's diabetic, so I told him he needed to get it looked at. He said no, it wasn't that bad and he felt fine. I let it go, even though I knew better. And during those weeks he was between jobs, I noticed it getting worse and occasionally mentioned we should go to the hospital. He kept saying it wasn't that bad. Flash forward to a week after he'd started his new job and Tank's foot was twice the normal size and full of infection. Once again, long story short, he's in the hospital again and he's had 3 toes amputated.

And that brings me to the title of this post. There's no money cushion this time and we've tapped out all our family and friends. There's no way to know when Tank will be able to go back to work. I'm still at my job, but it doesn't pay a lot and I've had to miss work here and there since back in December because of these hospitalizations (and once for a week because my back was out).

We've applied for disability and SSI. I have an appointment in a week to talk to DHS for Families First (welfare), but they denied our request a couple of months ago because I drew unemployment for a few months in 2012. That makes no sense, but whatever. We were able to get food stamps, but that's all the help we have been able to get for now. I'll be able to pay some of the bills, but not all of them. And there's no way I can pay this rent. Especially now that our discount is gone.

So that's my Reader's Digest version of my story now. I just need to vent and get it down in writing. It might help me to think things through a little better. And in the next few days, I'll go into some detail about what happened with the stroke and his previous employer.