Thirty-one years ago this week, my Dad had a stroke. He came home from work with the worst headache he had ever experienced. He went to sleep, woke up about 9 hours later, stood up and fell to the floor. He was 49 years old.
He recovered enough to go back to work about 2 months later. His stroke had been on the right side of his brain. He was left with some weakness in his left arm and leg that was most noticeable when he was tired. He never lost his capacity to speak.
About 20 years later, my grandmother had a stroke. She was in her 80's and the stroke damaged the left side of her brain. She was able to speak clearly enough to be understood, but not to produce sensible speech. The way her doctor described it, she had been "hit in the dictionary".
It broke my heart. We never had another serious conversation. My grandmother was my "soul-sister". We had similar physical and emotional illnesses. We loved each other with all our hearts.
She remembered that I had a daughter, but not her name. She would ask, "How is your girl?"
She would get chilled and ask me for her umbrella. Umbrella was a common term for anything that her "dictionary" had erased. She often said something that sounded like "Vantage" but no one ever knew what she was trying to say.
Most of the time when I visited my grandmother, she would take my hand and hold on like she would never let go, while I chatted with my grandfather and tried to include her in the conversation.
My Mom just spent 6 days in the hospital. It has been determined that she suffered 2 small strokes. It is commonly known as TIA (transient ischemic attack). There are not any lingering symptoms, only the knowledge that 50% of the people with TIA will have a larger stroke within a year.
Mom is afraid. All of the test were inconclusive...no brain bleed, no blood clots, no blockages.
We're left with a sense that there may be more strokes of bad luck in our future.