Hi, Folks! It’s good to be back home!
I’m going to be all over the place a little bit with this one. If y’all would, please bear with me on this one.
First off, I would like to thank each and every one of you for your heartfelt thoughts, prayers and well wishes. Folks in Appalachia own the hallmark of sticking together when tough times hit and y’all have exemplified that magnificently. Thank You.
As most of you know, my wife Lou Anne suffered a stroke on November 30, 2016. Not just one stroke but three, simultaneously, affecting three different sections of her brain. It was a totally unexpected health crisis, especially when you consider that she has never smoked, doesn’t drink and was in overall excellent shape minus hypertension and the salt in her diet.
When Lou Anne goes to bed we don’t bother her so she can rest. She slides a bolt latch across the door in order to keep our three year old granddaughter, Nadia, from entering the room. That particular night, she’d went to bed, as she had to teach the next day. I went downstairs to listen to some bluegrass music and our daughter, Selena, was in the library room studying for her upcoming Bar Exam.
Luckily, Lou Anne had taken one of the cordless phones to bed with her. When the strokes hit, she tried to call out but we couldn’t hear her. She managed to call our niece, Delilah. Delilah’s fiancé, Dakota, answered the phone. He couldn’t make out her words but knew it was Lou Anne.
Dakota & Delilah raced the half mile from her house to ours. I was outside when Delilah’s red Ford Mustang came barreling into the driveway.
She jumped out and said “Get upstairs! Something is wrong with Lou Anne!”
When I reached the landing, I knocked on the door, calling “Lou Anne? Lou Anne?”
I could hear her trying to speak but couldn’t understand her, so I took my fist and hit the bedroom door, breaking the sliding latch lock.
When I entered, I tried to talk to her but her speech was slurred at best. She couldn’t move any of her extremities on her right side. She couldn’t even open her right eye.
I grabbed the phone, calling 9-1-1 immediately.
First Responders from Laurel Volunteer Fire Department and Madison County EMS showed up remarkably fast. An assessment was made and down the stairs they headed with her.
I heard LVFD First Responder Jan Franklin tell Chief Emerson Franklin “WINGS is on its way.” And I knew it was bad.
WINGS is the flight response helicopter out of Johnson City, Tennessee which is about an hour from our house.
I rode in the Ambulance with Emerson to LVFD where WINGS would land. As the helicopter was making its landing approach, I jumped into the vehicle with Dakota & Delilah in order to begin the one hour trek to Johnson City, Tennessee.
As odd as it may seem, with all of the doubt and worry of the moment, as I jumped into the extended cab Chevrolet pickup I thought of the old television series M*A*S*H as I saw that helicopter approaching; of all things to think of at that moment.
When we got to Johnson City Medical Center, I was escorted to a curtained off makeshift room where Lou Anne was. I was told that she had one inoperable blood clot on her brain but they were giving her a drug called TPA (Tissue Plasminogen Activator).
TPA is actually an extreme blood thinner. For it to work effectively, they have to introduce two bags of it through IV with a period of about 3-4 hours.
As the second bag began flowing into her body, something happened:
She opened her right eye.
Then she wiggled her fingers.
Then she began moving her fingers and toes.
Her speech started to clear up.
Inside of four days, she was eating a regular diet, speaking clearly, could dress herself, etc. Her doctors were nothing short of astonished. TPA is supposed to be effective but work this well. They are even talking about making her a case study due to her recovery.
We had truly been given a miracle.
Lou Anne was discharged late that Sunday evening. Although there are dexterity and short term memory issues, I will gladly take it, especially when I consider her condition when this all started.
Off on another tangent…….. I LOVE irony. Love it in jokes, stories, movies, books and even life. Little did I know just how much it would affect me and my thought process before this all started.
When something like this happens it is amazing the thoughts that race through your head:
Bills, Rehabilitation, personal care and the general well-being of your spouse.
How will I continue working, doing my photography and writing?
How will I pay for this?
The last time I wrote my Tuesday with Tweed piece back in November, I wrote about Granny Banks. If you will remember, Granny Banks died of a stroke at age ninety-three in 1920. Ironic, huh?
Granny Banks died at the old Whiterock Hospital which is now partially owned by my wife and stands less than 200 feet from our home. Ironic, huh?
I’ve been doing some research on mortality rates in Appalachia. I’ve done so much research that I’m having dreams with percentage marks in them.
I won’t bore y’all with stats but will tell you that mortality rates from strokes have declined by fifty percent since 1970, a span of just forty seven years.
The bills have now started coming in.
Did you know that if I book right now, I can fly from Knoxville to Honolulu (round trip) for less than $2,300 but an eight minute helicopter ride costs as much or more than one years tuition with room & board to UNC Chapel Hill?!?!
Thank You, Affordable Health Care; but I regress.
I have done two stories, back to back, about two different women living in two different eras.
Each had the same ailment but each had a very different outcome.
When we look at the past, we all too often cherry pick the best memories and stories. However, we often forget the consequences of living in a bygone era.
When we look at the present, we all too often bemoan the ruination of mankind without giving credit to advancements in technology, medicine and man’s acceptance of his fellow man itself.
From where I am standing right now, I guess the bottom line is to be thankful for the day that you have and the day that you have with the ones you love.
As one old-timer once told me: Any day above dirt is a good day.
Y’all have a great week! It’s good to be home.