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My mom just had a stroke

SzerSzer Registered User regular
edited April 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
As the title says. My mom has what was supposed to be a minor operation. She did very well and was recovering in the hospital. When she tried to get up she felt woozy and collapsed. They treated her right away and airlifted her to another hospital. Still, it was apparently a big one. They have gotten rid of big clots, but couldn't remove some minor ones. Right now she is on a respirator though she does breath normally.

I have no fucking clue what to do. I feel like I'm to young for this, and so is she. I'm only in my early twenties and I have a young, teenage brother. I have no idea what I would do if she died overnight or if she... I'll put it bluntly... became a vegetable. She has always been the one who held this family together. She is so bright and intelligent and well read, I would hate to have that wiped away just like that. I can't deal with this, who is going to take care of my brother. Who is going to take care of me. She is the only one in this world who I think really understands who I am.

Szer on

Posts

  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    I'll be level headed with you, unless someone in your family has agreed to take you, you'll go into foster care. How old are you? You could technically become emancipated and live on your own if you're old enough. That's for another time.

    Biggest thing to do is to get a will set up if your mom hasn't already.

    You'll also most likely go to live with your father if he's no longer part of your immediate family because of divorce reasons. If he's no longer in this world, you'll probably, again, be sent to foster care.

    bowen on
    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
  • Grid SystemGrid System Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    My condolences. That must be really hard.

    Are you in school or working? You should call your boss/faculty/department and let them know what has happened. If you're in school, consider seeking some kind of counselling or other assistance there.

    You don't have to go through this alone.

    Grid System on
  • PaperPrittPaperPritt Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    My sincere condoleances for what happened. I'm fairly familiar with that kind of situation since it happend to a very close friend not so long ago.

    First of all: don't panic. Your mom is still in the hospital, a recovery, while not guaranteed, is possible. Hang on to that.

    Next: Do you have any relatives you could go to? Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Grandfather/mother possibly? This is the time to call them. Because you might need them, big time. They can, no, they *should* provide assistance, shelter, money, demands from the various legal entities that might become involved. Unless you don't have any relatives, you have someone you can turn to.
    You should call your boss/faculty/department and let them know what has happened

    This. This is a painful time for you. Best let everyone knows. Especially if you are working. I've always found HR people sensitive to these issues, and they can be very supportive.

    I sincerly wish you the best of luck.

    PaperPritt on
  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    edited April 2009
    If your father isn't around, would you want/be able to get custody of your brother?

    No condolences yet, we don't know her prognosis. Hold out hope for the best but prepare well for the worst.

    ceres on
    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • Pixel BluePixel Blue Registered User regular
    edited March 2013
    -

    Pixel Blue on
  • SzerSzer Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    I'm in my early twenties and going to University. I'm currently at home for 2 weeks with my family. We haven't told him anything yet, because the doctors know very little right now other than that she's had a pretty big stroke. All my hopes hinge on the fact that this happened in a hospital and that she got quick treatment. Just over dinner my brother was glowing because he managed to iron his own pants and exclaimed "everything is going just as planned without mom." I'm old enough now to stand on my own two legs even if it does hurt immensely, but i worry about how he would take it, he's only 12 years old. I don't know how to tell him that until now mom had taken care of him, but now he might have to help take care of her. My dad had trouble cobbling together something edible for dinner, because my mom always took care of everything at home and I just can't imagine him dealing with work, the household, my brother and potentially a disabled wife. My dad is the smoker in the family, so we've always expected it to be the other way around many, many years down the road. My sister just had a baby herself, so we aren't telling her just yet either.

    I have a couple of friends coming over in 2 days as part of a long planned visit. I don't know whether to tell them to stay at home or whether to let them come to take my mind of things.

    I'm waiting to wake up from this nightmare any second now to find myself laying in bed and seeing the sun shine through my window. I'm waiting for the doctors to call to say "I'm terribly sorry, there was a mix up with the names or APRIL FOOLS."

    Thank you all very much for the kind words, especially you PixelBlue. Those words were good to hear.

    Szer on
  • Teslan26Teslan26 Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Stroke recovery is absolutely tied to how quickly it is treated. By that maxim your mother is in a relatively good position.

    Prepare yourself for the worst, help your brother, contact HIS school etc and give details.

    If your mother has a (living) will, read it and find out what it says.

    As above - you are going to need all the help you can get. That means spending lots of time telling people. Family/friends etc. Tell them. Each time you talk it through the reality will crash down on you like a 10 tonne truck. This is a good thing, you'll be better that way than repressing/bottling up etc.

    Good luck. Take care of yourself.

    EAT, DRINK and SLEEP

    Without them you'll be as useful as a chocolate teapot. Again - make sure your brother does the same. Sleep may be difficult, but the other two are entirely in your control.

    Edit: No one will thank you for not telling them. Just so you are aware. Not saying you're wrong not to do so, but there will be recriminations if she were to die.

    Teslan26 on
  • stratslingerstratslinger Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Szer wrote: »
    My sister just had a baby herself, so we aren't telling her just yet either.

    As painful as it may be, you and/or your dad need to fix this NOW.

    My wife and I have had repeated problems with family members not informing us when serious stuff was going down because they "didn't want to bother" or "didn't want to worry" us, and I'm going to tell you this: It's gotten very hard to not develop a certain amount of resentment towards them for that.

    If the worst should happen, you all will need each other. Period. Don't make the mistake of putting a wedge between you and your family when you most need them. And make no mistake, not informing immediate family members when something of this importance is happening is a sure way to build exactly the kind of wedge you want to avoid.

    Best of luck to you and your family.

    stratslinger on
  • RUNN1NGMANRUNN1NGMAN Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Your dad should probably look for a good malpractice attorney and get a consult.

    Now, don't anyone jump all over me, I'm not suggesting that any of this was the hospital's fault. However, I'm also not suggesting it's not the hospital's fault. The fact that this happened immediately after minor surgery means that it should at least be looked into. If someone treating your mom was at fault, they aren't going to just tell you that.

    Most malpractice attorneys work on contingency, meaning that they only get paid if you win.

    Again, I am not saying that there is anything to suggest that a mistake was made with your mom's surgery or treatment. But you should have someone on your side, not the hospital's, who can find that out for sure. If someone made a mistake, you should be compensated for that.

    My father-in-law had brain surgery and developed a brain infection which his surgeons had never even seen before. He had to go through months of difficult speech rehab and physical rehab, but luckily there was no permanent damage (that we know of). My in-laws didn't want to "sue" anyone, as it has a negative connotation. I tried to explain that they'd only be asking for someone to pay for the mistake they made, and if they didn't hold someone accountable no one else would. It still pisses me off that some surgeon may have screwed up and never had to be accountable for it.

    RUNN1NGMAN on
  • The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Szer wrote: »
    My sister just had a baby herself, so we aren't telling her just yet either.
    (Tell everyone what's going on!)

    This is huge. At one point my sister ended up almost dying from TSS while she was in High School and I lived a state away attending school. I received a single voicemail from my father saying to the effect, "There's been a problem, you may not be able to get in contact with us but it looks like there isn't anything to worry about."

    This was the single most horrid thing that has ever been done to me by my awesome family. You need to let every adult who would care know what's going on and allow them to choose their own way of reacting and involving themselves. They're adults and they'll be able to deal, you owe them the truth and everyone will be happier in the end knowing what's going on.

    The Crowing One on
    3rddocbottom.jpg
  • CorvusCorvus . VancouverRegistered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Szer wrote: »
    My sister just had a baby herself, so we aren't telling her just yet either.
    (Tell everyone what's going on!)

    This is huge. At one point my sister ended up almost dying from TSS while she was in High School and I lived a state away attending school. I received a single voicemail from my father saying to the effect, "There's been a problem, you may not be able to get in contact with us but it looks like there isn't anything to worry about."

    This was the single most horrid thing that has ever been done to me by my awesome family. You need to let every adult who would care know what's going on and allow them to choose their own way of reacting and involving themselves. They're adults and they'll be able to deal, you owe them the truth and everyone will be happier in the end knowing what's going on.

    Seriously, when a family member is seriously ill, you need to communicate that clearly and as calmly as possible to everyone involved. I've run into many situations of critical health problems in my family, from about the age of 13 on, and one of the most comforting things you can do is keep everyone informed.

    You may think you are sparing people's feelings by not telling them about the situation, but this is really a lie of omission. I can't imagine how much worse the situations I've gone through would have been if in addition to hearing about someone being really ill, I would have had to deal with the fact that the information was with held from me for a period of time.

    People need information early so they can start to cope with it. Kids are tougher than we give them credit for. You can tell the 12 year old brother whats going on, as long as you give him clear facts and don't freak him out by injecting your own emotions into the conversation.


    Szer, I've had near twenty years of dealing with this kind of thing in my family (strokes, cancer, heart attacks, etc), and my advice to you is this:

    First off, take care of yourself, do the best you can to keep healthy both mentally and physically. Talk to your friends and loved ones. Look into counselling services if you feel you need them. You're in your early 20s, and while you're young, you are an adult, so taking care of yourself is your own responsibility.

    If you feel you might need it, you should talk to your university about compassionate leave or withdrawal so you have the information on how to handle that if you feel you need to take time away from school to be with your family.

    Also, look into what kind of support might be available from your national or local Stroke association.

    Secondly, get and stay informed. Talk to the doctors and nurses as much as possible so that you are comfortable that you know what the medical situation is. This will help you in communicating with your family members like your little brother.

    Thirdly, maintain hope. People can and do make full or nearly full recoveries from strokes.

    Pixel Blue's advice is also good about reaching out to people for support.

    Corvus on
    :so_raven:
  • JamsicleJamsicle Registered User new member
    edited April 2009
    Szer -- all you need to do is take care of yourself, first; then you can help take care of your family. Be with your family. You will all help each other. Let your dad be the parent. Offer what you can to help, but don't overdo it.
    Consider taking time off from University. Being around family is the best support, and your mom won't recover in 2 weeks (at least I've not heard it can be that quick). Consider living at home. If you stay in school, take a much lighter load. It'll help to have something else to focus on, but you'll want to be with your mom and family too. Your dad can get time off and by law he'll have a job when he goes back to work. He can submit a request for time off -- FMLA, the Family Medical Leave Act, is for this exact situation.

    This is a time where you need support. Don't be ashamed to get professional help; it can be quite beneficial. The university will have counselors and the doctors at the hospital can give you referrals. If you tell your friends, they have the opportunity to help -- if you don't tell them, you're more alone plus you'll have the stress of keeping it secret when you do talk to them.

    Should they visit? It's up to you. See how your dad truly feels about having them around. Maybe cut the visit short. Be honest with them. They can entertain themselves while you're with your family. Explain that you might visit your mom, how long you'll visit, and that you'll need family time; your brother will need your support and probably won't want your friends around if he shares his feelings.

    My story (and more advice)
    My mom had a major stroke when I was 20. She was 55, young for a stroke. She also thought she was having just another migraine. Time is certainly of the essence. The sooner they work on it, the bigger chance she has to recover and be similar to the mom you know and love.

    Let your dad take care of the heavy lifting suggested above, like the will and bills. Offer your help, but don't spread yourself too thin. Be sure to take care of yourself first and foremost. You will have more positive energy, which your mom will likely notice. It will also help you cope. What relaxes you? Reading, chatting with friends, hobbies? It's okay if you find yourself just trying to keep busy, but do take care of yourself too. My dad repeatedly scrubbed the kitchen floor; that was how he coped.

    If you can, have family visit her every day. When my mom was in a coma (on a respirator as well), we brought in a tape player and some of her favorite music; the staff gladly played it for her quietly. When we visited we would talk to her, kiss her, hold her hand (even her left hand which she couldn't control). The staff said that hearing our voices and the music was really good for her. One of the first times she communicated to us was when my brother-in-law was saying a heart felt good-bye; She squeezed his hand.

    My mom was in a coma for a few weeks. Everyone takes their own time to recover. The doctors gave us a very grim outlook, including that she'd never walk again. Boy did my mom prove them wrong! When she finished rehab she was able to walk with a sturdy 4 legged cane. I could go on and on gloating about the amazing recovery she has done. We were lucky and she is mostly the mom remember.

    Try not to worry about the outcome. I know it's hard, but no one truly knows what will happen or what functionality/behaviors will change. (again, let your father take care of the will). Post on the forums again when you learn more. Some conditions, including paralysis, are temporary. She can relearn/regain movement and brain function, typically within the first 2 years after the stroke. Take it one step at a time, hour by hour if need be.

    We found many ways to help mom cope with not being able to use her left arm nor hand. There are things to buy, and easy things to make that can help her accomplish tasks.

    It's quite hard, and a tragedy, that you are in the position, so young in life, to be helping take care of your mom. It's really hard, but you'll find the strength to do what you can.

    Hang in there, and feel free to PM me.

    Jamsicle on
  • DiogeeDiogee Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    This sounds pretty similar to what happened to me about a year and a half ago.

    My family lives in California and I was in Utah for college. My mom has been a smoker her entire life, and up to this point in May '07 she was fortunate enough to not have any health complications from it. The whole experience was actually a bit surreal - I had just flown back to Utah after a visit with my family (parents are divorced but live close by) and everything was fine.

    A few days after getting back, my Dad called me and told me my mom had a stroke and she was in the hospital. I was 20 and I didnt quite understand what that meant so the full effect and impact of what had happened didnt hit me for a while. I didn't know what her condition was or how serious strokes really can be. I made reservations to fly back out to california the next day and see her in the hospital.

    Walking into her room in the ICU was when all the emotions hit me at once. Seeing my mom, someone who I have depended on through thick and thin and who has supported me during my greatest times of need.. seeing her laying in a hospital bed, completely unable to talk or barely even move was probably the most emotionally painful experience I have had in my life. She recognized me, she got excited when she saw me (as excited as someone in her condition could be, her heartbeat went up and she lifted an eyebrow basically). I had no idea what to expect, and at that time neither did the doctors. All they could say was 'wait and see, we are doing everything we can but every stroke is different'.

    Fortunately she didnt get the worst of the worst. For 2 months she remained in the hospital and during that time she could not move her entire right side. She had pretty serious Aphasia and couldnt get a comprehendable sentance out at all. Fortunately myself and my sister (16 at the time) could understand her in that special way that only a child can, even without words, and whenever we were with her we did our best to comfort her.

    After a few months in the hospital when she began to regain limited use of her right side, her insurance provider decided to move her to a residential care center about 15 minutes from my Dads house. Mind you this whole time I was still working and doing my college stuff in utah and flying home every other weekend. I made bi-weekly trips for 5 months straight during this part of her recovery. Her aunt was the designator of her will, meaning she took charge and managed all my moms assets, paid all her bills, took care of the day to day needs that my mom couldnt handle.

    She spent 6 months recovering at this residential care facility which she now says she hated. My mom is 50, and everyone else at the facility was 70+. She basically was limited to staying in her room and watching TV all day. But there really was no other choice, she couldnt even feed herself much less make food or take care of her daily needs in any meaningful way. However, she recovered... slowly. Much more slowly then myself or my sister or anyone would have liked.

    About a year after her stroke had happened she finally had recovered enough use of her mind and body to decide to live on her own. She got an appartment and has been living there ever since. In the last few months she has gained enough mastery over her body to be able to drive a car again which is pretty much the determining factor of if someone can live on their own or not. She still regularly does physical therapy (although she slacks on it which is slowing her recovery greatly). She still has trouble speaking, it takes time for her to express her thoughts and she mixes up words or names pretty often. But its getting better, little by little. A year and a half later she is no where close to how she was before the stroke but now she is back to being my mom.. her personality has recovered and her spirit has returned.

    Moral of the story I guess is that it is going to be a long journey. It was a very painful one for me. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel and with time, effort and love a recovery is very possible.

    If you'd like to learn more I reccomend you read a book called 'My Stroke of Insight" by Jill Bolte Taylor:

    http://www.amazon.com/My-Stroke-Insight-Scientists-Personal/dp/1430300612

    Its written by a brain scientist who actually had a stroke, and realized what was going on while it was happening. Its really shed a lot of light on whats going on behind the scenes in my moms head and what a path to recovery is going to look like in the future. It gave me hope and maybe it can give you some too.

    Diogee on
  • Pixel BluePixel Blue Registered User regular
    edited March 2013
    -

    Pixel Blue on
  • Teslan26Teslan26 Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    RUNN1NGMAN wrote: »
    It still pisses me off that some surgeon may have screwed up and never had to be accountable for it.

    I don't want to derail, but:

    1) The surgeon pays less than the hospital. Meaning everyone who uses the hospital pays. So don't pretend that suing makes the world right again and punishes just the surgeon.

    2) Whilst I agree with recouperating un necessary costs, in general I think that people are quick to sue for stuff that may not be anyone's fault in particular. Strokes are caused by clotting, common in post op. Perhaps she could have been given blood thinners....

    medicine is a damned complicated field, and tiny errors can be fatal.

    I am British, and use the NHS. Both my father and I, on seperate occasions, have had valid reason to sue the NHS - but did not because all that achieves is less money for vital services. That is where I stand.

    ==============

    Hope the news is good for you szer.

    Teslan26 on
  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Teslan26 wrote: »
    RUNN1NGMAN wrote: »
    It still pisses me off that some surgeon may have screwed up and never had to be accountable for it.

    I don't want to derail, but:

    1) The surgeon pays less than the hospital. Meaning everyone who uses the hospital pays. So don't pretend that suing makes the world right again and punishes just the surgeon.

    2) Whilst I agree with recouperating un necessary costs, in general I think that people are quick to sue for stuff that may not be anyone's fault in particular. Strokes are caused by clotting, common in post op. Perhaps she could have been given blood thinners....

    medicine is a damned complicated field, and tiny errors can be fatal.

    I am British, and use the NHS. Both my father and I, on seperate occasions, have had valid reason to sue the NHS - but did not because all that achieves is less money for vital services. That is where I stand.

    ==============

    Hope the news is good for you szer.

    The surgeon may have done nothing wrong. They bill medicine as a magical cure to whatever is wrong with you, and constantly enforce its perfection to those not in the medical community as a sort of advertising campaign.

    The truth is, any surgery is a risk. Clots can form for a variety of reasons and just because one broke free doesn't mean it was the doctors fault. There are a half dozen types of embolism. Blood thinners aren't just a "lol let's thin the blood, man!" solution. What if it was a fat embolism? Air? How about a DVT? The problem may have existed long before the operation took place. Especially if she's inactive or has a desk job where she sits immobile for long periods of time.

    That being said, being angry is okay. Just don't let it cloud your judgment. Get whatever information you can. Also, you can't really sue because something that was an explained risk actually happened. I am sorry for your misfortune, truly.

    My girlfriend had a small stroke and could not move half of her body for better than 9 months, I know how it feels to be totally helpless. Spend what time with her you can.

    For the real advice side of things. Get power of attorney sorted out immediately, if she has a living will carry out her wishes without delay. If she is genuinely braindead (which given time they can determine for sure) you may need to do some reading.

    Brain death really is death. I am deeply sorry for your situation, focus on your family and get through this without dragging out any sort of decisions that need to be made.

    edit: (my family went through this with my grandmother a year ago, so I'm not trying to be a dick. The love and support should come from those around you, not so much people on a forum... thats why I feel I can only advise on the practical)

    dispatch.o on
  • kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    dispatch.o wrote: »
    Teslan26 wrote: »
    RUNN1NGMAN wrote: »
    It still pisses me off that some surgeon may have screwed up and never had to be accountable for it.

    I don't want to derail, but:

    1) The surgeon pays less than the hospital. Meaning everyone who uses the hospital pays. So don't pretend that suing makes the world right again and punishes just the surgeon.

    2) Whilst I agree with recouperating un necessary costs, in general I think that people are quick to sue for stuff that may not be anyone's fault in particular. Strokes are caused by clotting, common in post op. Perhaps she could have been given blood thinners....

    medicine is a damned complicated field, and tiny errors can be fatal.

    I am British, and use the NHS. Both my father and I, on seperate occasions, have had valid reason to sue the NHS - but did not because all that achieves is less money for vital services. That is where I stand.

    ==============

    Hope the news is good for you szer.

    The surgeon may have done nothing wrong. They bill medicine as a magical cure to whatever is wrong with you, and constantly enforce its perfection to those not in the medical community as a sort of advertising campaign.

    The truth is, any surgery is a risk. Clots can form for a variety of reasons and just because one broke free doesn't mean it was the doctors fault. There are a half dozen types of embolism. Blood thinners aren't just a "lol let's thin the blood, man!" solution. What if it was a fat embolism? Air? How about a DVT? The problem may have existed long before the operation took place. Especially if she's inactive or has a desk job where she sits immobile for long periods of time.

    That being said, being angry is okay. Just don't let it cloud your judgment. Get whatever information you can. Also, you can't really sue because something that was an explained risk actually happened. I am sorry for your misfortune, truly.[/b]

    Uh, you can definately sue if it was an explained risk that actually happened, which was caused by negligence of the hospital. It is possible that it isn't the doctor's fault, but keep your legal options open. Talking to a lawyer isn't your top priority, but the sooner you do so the better-preserved your rights will be. The only thing that keeps hospitals and doctors honest is the threat of legal action, so don't feel bad about other people's posters, either.

    kaliyama on
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  • Seattle ThreadSeattle Thread Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Szer, pick up a copy of My Stroke of Insight. It'll help make sense of the days to come.

    Seattle Thread on
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  • vintagegamervintagegamer Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    I unfortunately do not have any new suggestions to provide, however I wanted to post that I am very sorry to hear about what you are going through. I don't think any of us are ever "ready" to have to grow up 100% and take full responsibility of our lives (let alone a sibling's), I think it just happens over time. Like you, I have a stronger relationship with my mother than my father, and even though my mother is in good health right now I worry constantly about the exact same scenario you are experiencing now. I feel like I would be lost without her sometimes. However, the big picture scenario is, NONE of us never know how long we are going to have in life with either our parents or own lives. It happens to every single one of us sooner or later, we just get comfortable with believing our family is always going to be there.

    Please keep us posted on how you and your family work through this.

    vintagegamer on
    Working arcade games I own: Ms. Pac, Asteroids, TRON, Defender, Robotron: 2084, T2, Sorcerer pin, SMC-1 juke

    Webmaster
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  • SzerSzer Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Again thank you all for the input. My dad visited her today. When he talked to her the beeping of the machines she was hooked up to sped up so she recognized his voice, but couldn't reply in part surely because she is heavily sedated. She somehow had sensation in the part of the body that was affected and twitched her arm upon touch which she apparently isn't supposed to be able to do. The bad news is that her brain is swelling some and they have to take part of her skull off the allow for the brain to expand without squishing itself. They'll operate her tonight. I guess that's pretty bad, but I refuse to look up exactly what the implications are.

    She was already supposed to be home today if everything had gone according to plan; the weather is so nice outside and all the nice things she planted in the garden are starting to bloom. Now I'm dreading the phonecall from the doctors to tell us how the operation went. I just want to fast forward half a year.

    Szer on
  • Teslan26Teslan26 Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Yet more sympathy, and a further gentle reminder about looking after yourself.

    I know (roughly) how you feel. I really do. Try as best you can to keep yourself occupied in the waiting interim - cause it is a shitty place to be.

    Personally, I like to make soup when in that situation. People have suggested I am odd, however. :p

    Teslan26 on
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