April Wysocki

First post: Jan 15, 2022 Latest post: Sep 5, 2022
This will be a journal documenting Mom’s success in this journey of healing. 

I’ve thrown that out there for the universe to take notice, and resonate… but also for my dear brother, David’s, heart.  His only experiences with Caringbridge have been  with end-of-life stories.  BUT, no matter what happens, Mom would consider this a great success story, because her best days are when her family is together. And, we have banded together, like NEVER BEFORE, to be the best care team she could have ever hoped for.  We appreciate you being here and look forward to sharing this success story with you, as well as passing on your encouraging words in the comment section to let Mom (and Dad) know that they are being supported in ways they didn’t think possible.  Thank you for that.

If you could find a person who has met April that doesn’t describe her as a driven, perseverant, tenacious, fierce, relentless, warrior woman, they just didn’t have enough time to visit with her.  When her 11 year old grandson (one of her 6 grand babies) heard that “Nonna” was sick and would have a tough recovery, he said, “Nonna will work really hard And get better.  That’s just how she is”.  To protect her family, she hid her apprehension and intense nervousness from us about this procedure, but we now hear from my dad, as well as a clue she left (look in photos for her handwritten note David found on her writing table), that she was not comfortable with what was to come.  I think any one of us would have gladly helped her bear that burden.

April’s Story:
Wednesday, Jan 5, Mom underwent a carotid endarterectomy.  The procedure took 3 hours and she appeared, several hours after, to be pulling out of the anesthesia and coming to nicely. However, at around 7:30pm, she articulated that she heard something pop in her neck, along with much pain at the site of surgery.  A neck ct showed she had started clotting at the surgery site and the area was swelling, cutting off blood supply to her brain. She was taken into emergency surgery, but the length of time the blood was decreased/cut off to her brain (stroke) was compromised for nearly 2.5 hours.  

 

Thursday…The next day was rough for her, but we saw signs she was still with us, despite the severe stroke.  She opened her eyes, recognized dad and he could tell she was still “in there”. She had very slight movements in her left side, but was not responding consistently on the right, yet. Her eyes were both reactive and tracking together and she had her eyesight intact.  She gave us several good signs that she was fighting to come back to us.

 

Friday, she did not open her eyes much at all. There was a very different change in her demeanor….an emotional shift…less physically and mentally reactive. By evening, she was shut down and seemed very sleepy.  We were pushing for a CT scan, but when it didn’t happen, we assumed the medical professionals were not concerned and that this was normal (except her sister, Chris, a nurse).  None of us took much comfort in their opinion to not have her scanned, it seemed like they were postponing the scan that was supposed to have already taken place.  It seemed odd that she’d go backward in her wakefulness, but we still tried to rest in the opinion of the professionals.  So, we sat tight and tried to justify our unrest with “she just needed rest and time”.

 

Saturday morning saw no improvements from her and brought about the need for morphine, due to her grimacing and restlessness, which was not sitting well with us.  SOMETHING was wrong. It was a day of profuse worry, analyzation, reliving all the details, consulting outside sources for help and trying to make some sense of her decline for no obvious reason.  THIS day provided us with a steep learning curve that we should have screamed from the rooftops when there was inaction by the medical staff!!!!  

 

It wasn’t until Saturday night and a conference call with all the family and the doctor, that we pushed for action. We were, unfortunately, correct with our concern, as the scan showed April had a very large brain bleed.  This was a worst-possible outcome, a seemingly insurmountable hurdle.  While the Cardiovascular surgeon was a fabulous CV surgeon, he was not a neurosurgeon.  In his quest to keep her blood from clotting, to not prompt another stroke, while simultaneously, artificially elevating her blood flow rate to prevent “sticking” of platelets to the injury site in her neck, he missed the signs of a brain bleed.  This bleed disrupted her brain immensely, causing a midline shift and even more swelling.  We were devastated.

Despite this horrible developement, she was still alive.  AND, through all of this, April breathed on her own.  Our Mom sure is amazing!

After many scans and med adjustments throughout Saturday night, her brain bleed was almost completely stopped by Sunday morning. 

She was moved back to the ICU where she spent Sunday and Monday -- which was ROUGH -- showing spotty, inconsistent signs of awareness.  Tuesday, she started to show a few convincing awareness signs and moving her left side more for Dad, the nurses and dr.  Therapy disciplines started to work with her a bit, but she’d tire after very short times with the physical therapist.

Wednesday, our family care team took action, getting as much information out of her caregivers as possible.  Many meetings later, we were still very much on the fence of whether she would recover.  Her Ct’s showed a lot of damage to her brain with swelling from the initial stroke and interior damage to the brain from the bleed.  

Due to hospital protocols, only 1 person per day can visit with her (absolutely MADDENING!) and can’t stay overnight (MORE MADDENING).  Dad was that person by her side.  He did so much to try and comfort his wife of 52 years by relaying information to friends and family, talking to medical staff, having difficult conversations with consulting neurologists, all while watching his best friend fight for her life.  This has been one of the hardest things he has experienced in his life and we are so proud of him -- and I can speak for Mom, so is she.

Thursday, Dad felt confident enough about Mom’s stability, that he let me go visit with her for the day.  After a week of feeling sick and not sleeping, I got to hug my Mom.  And, boy, did she know it was me!  Although she could barely muster a facial muscle to move, I could tell the miniscule movements in her face were because she was crying when she saw me.  I placed my hand on her chest and it was heaving…..my mom was in there!!!!  Time to pull her out!  I felt honored to spend the day caring for her.  She needed much grooming, hugging, mouth cleaning, hugging, massaging, hugging, physical movement therapy, and as much love as I could pour on her for my limited time of visiting.  By the end of the day, her left arm hugged me…..leaving there was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  

After her day of pampering, she graduated out of ICU to the next “stepdown” level of care on Friday.  She is now in “CV-tele”, where she has been receiving care from some really kind, caring nurses, a physical therapist and Dad.  In the CV-tele unit, Dad has more time to spend with mom each day.

 At this time, she is unable to speak, has object recognition inabilities, and has no movement in her entire right side.  She has an NG tube but has started swallowing water (as well as pulling the NG tube out several times--way to stay feisty, MOM!).  We are looking for the best rehabilitation center for her to move to.  Our biggest prayer, in the immediate timeframe, is that she stays without any secondary issues or infections, that the speech therapist gives the OK for her swallowing evaluation (so she does not need a PEG tube) and that she keeps making small steps forward each day.   We know the first 3 months are VERY important in the recovery of stroke and brain injury, as the brain is quickly re-wiring itself.....AND we know that she came to this surgery with a VERY sound mind, a VERY fit body and a HUGE desire to return to her family.  All of that gives her a very optimistic chance at recovering to a level that will afford her a good quality of life.

As mom continues on this journey, we will update the Journal.  Please leave comments, stories, anecdotes or words of encouragement.  We will love them, and dad will share with mom so she knows the army of supporters with their positivity, prayers and concern.

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