A Stroke of Bad Luck
Updated: Jul 20
I should be writing about how visiting Mom has its ups and downs but we see her every week, hold hands, hug her when the staff isn’t looking, are scolded by her, find that sweet spot and convince her to laugh with us, and generally walk away satisfied that she is doing fine, given the circumstances.
Instead, I’m going to write about seven-hour waits in the hospital, TIAs, the amazing ability of doctors here to speak multiple languages (including almost perfect English), and the desire to hold on tightly to my aging father.
A TIA, transient ischemic attack, is a short interlude of symptoms similar to those of a stroke. Meaning, Dad called me last Thursday after realizing his whole upper left side felt numb. By the time my husband Jeff and I arrived, the tingling had reached his face and I watched in horror as the left side of his mouth seemed to melt slightly. I’ve seen the effects of Bell’s Palsy, and that’s what it looked like. This lasted only a few minutes, though the numbness in his limbs, including his left leg, persisted. On the advice of our wonderful neighborhood doctor, we called an ambulance. I got to ride in the front seat as they raced to the hospital—a thrill I would gladly pass on.
We got to the hospital on a packed Thursday night at about 7:00 p.m. When the neurologist finally came by, she competently checked Dad.
“How does his face look to you?” she asked me.
“As ugly as ever,” I replied, laughing.
“Obviously, I didn’t raise you properly,” laughed Dad.
By 12:00, while we were waiting for a CT scan, Jeff came to replace me (I’m not so good with late hours). Dad was admitted to the neurology ward just before 5:00 a.m., and though they ruled it only a mild TIA, they wanted to keep him under observation for 48 hours. After a battery of tests, they sent him home on Sunday afternoon.
Fast forward to Tuesday. Dad felt his hand go numb at about 4:30 p.m., but as that was the only symptom, we went ahead and visited Mom. When she wasn’t angrily telling me to leave, she was fun to be with.
Her words of wisdom: “You have to know what you’ve got. You have to use what you’ve got. If you don’t, you lose.”
When Dad asked her if she remembered how they met, she repeated the question.
“How was I when I met you? I was beautiful.” And later, “I like my face to be light.”
At 6:30 p.m., when we were in our respective homes, Dad called again with similar numbness, this time traveling also to his left arm.
“Push the button,” I told him, referring to the emergency call button he’s had for about six months.
When I got there, the ambulance was on its way. I got to ride in the front seat again.
The neurologist arrived at about 11:00 p.m., a friendly, confident and competent Dr. Yana. After examining Dad, she suggested it was a recrudescence, a bit like an aftershock of the same incident that was using the same pathway as the previous TIA, not a separate incident. If nothing showed on the CT she was arranging, he could go home. One of us would sleep over just in case.
Jeff came to the hospital at about 11:30 p.m., and I took a taxi home and went to sleep. They got back to his house a little after 2:00 a.m., and Jeff slept over there. I bless my husband for being so involved. I bless the doctors and nurses at the hospital for taking good care of us, despite being constantly overburdened and under staffed. I bless God for giving me time with Dad and knowing we are here for him. Long may he wave.
My hospital check list: Avoid weekends; remember your phone charger; bring water and food; don’t forget a good book to read; your toothbrush, just in case you’re admitted; ditto for slippers; and bring a seriously warm sweater (it’s always freezing in the emergency room.).
I hope we don’t do that again for a long time to come.
When in doubt, eat cake. I’d seen pictures of my two favorite cakes in combination, so I decided to try it, too. I give you the chocolate chip cookie brownie.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownies
It was super cool to eat brownies and cookies at the same time. Listed here are my favorite brownie and cookie recipes but you can use the ones you like best. There’s another version of this dessert that includes uncooked eggless cookie batter. I’m going to try that next!
Uncle Ze’ev’s Brownies
1 cup flour
1 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
¾ cup canola oil
Chocolate chips (optional)
Chocolate Chip Cookies
¾ cup oil
¾ cup white sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2¼ cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350° F / 180° C. Mix together brownie ingredients and pour into a large baking pan. Next, make cookie dough then place pieces of dough on top of the brownies. (You’ll probably have extra cookie dough to make cookies, too.) Press gently on the dough so that it sinks slightly into the brownie batter. Bake for 35 minutes, covering with foil after 20 minutes so the cookies don’t brown, then remove foil for the last 5 minutes. Voila!