Apologies to all that I’m only just getting around to filling you in on what has happened since I got word on the night of December 5th that my father had a serious stroke.
On hearing the news, I was on a plane from Heathrow to Newark the next morning, December 6th. I'm not sure when I'll be heading home to London.
Initially it looked like Dad was on the road to recovery and a good candidate for acute rehab. Then his stroke “evolved” on Sunday December 10th and he became lethargic and unable to swallow. Doctors said that he would not regain his ability to swallow and that the part of his brain that made him who he was (left hemisphere) was too badly damaged to expect any kind of recovery.
To keep him alive, they said he would need a tube in his stomach. But they said he would need it forever and that he would never be able to communicate or be himself again.
We made the difficult decision to bring him home under hospice care on December 18th. We put his bed between the living & dining areas where he’s in the thick of daily life and can see the front door to keep an eye on who’s coming & going. Since returning home Dad has been very much himself and alert - especially in mom’s presence.
The uncertainty and disruption of daily routine such as it was has been tough on mom, who has several forms of dementia including Alzheimer's disease. Every day we write answers to her most frequent questions on a whiteboard. Yet with positive coaching and frequent prompts, she has been able to comfort and motivate Dad in a way nobody else could.
Mom has had round-the-clock caregivers since December 5th. Thankfully Dad hired a care manager at the beginning of October. The care manager (Margo) is amazing and has been supporting mom & dad well, meaning I’m not having to figure everything out on my own.
There are others on “the team” who have been working for Mom & Dad for many years, including Beatrice (their housekeeper for 43 years), their trainer Barbara, their IT guy Enzo, their bookkeeper Rob (relatively new), financial advisors, lawyers etc. They’ve all been incredibly helpful and supportive.
On the night of December 22nd Dad & I had a father-son heart to heart covering some difficult terrain and he put a comforting hand on my shoulder while I knelt next to him.
On the morning of Saturday December 23rd, I had a speech therapist pay a visit to evaluate Dad’s ability to swallow. He passed with flying colors. Which means he can eat. Which means he could get stronger.
This morning we asked him if he wanted to start taking his regular meds again and he said yes.
No pressure, no expectations. It's not clear whether he's "comfort eating" or beginning the hard work of recuperation and rehabilitation to whatever level might be achievable.
One day at a time.
You are most welcome to visit, but please try to give us a heads up. Dad likes company and he must be pretty bored most of the time, so bring news to tell him, photos to show him, books & magazines to read to him etc. Pets welcome! That said, he is sleeping a lot and might not be awake or rousable.
Thank you all for your support and understanding. I’ll try to keep the updates coming.