May is National Stroke Awareness Month, and I want to share my story of my dad’s journey after his strokes.
Doors open and shut during the early morning hours. I hear the drip dispensing the next dose and some muffled chatter outside the room. Several phones are ringing in all directions, and I listen to alarms going off next door. This means the heart rate is too high.
Snoring beside me, I sit next to my dad’s bed in silence. I tap his covered feet.
“There is still hope,” I said before leaving the room in tears. Answers from doctors gave way to more questions. Uncertainty shrouded my dad’s future and mine too.
A month after the strokes, the doctors are unsure of the prognosis. But, the progress he continues to make as his brain heals. As the physical body heals. As his spirit hangs on against infections. Seizures. A harsh, new reality.
I saw my dad work out every day of the year and thought he was invincible. He was healthy, but the strokes didn’t care and took his old life away.
I visited him every day in the early months of the pandemic. Wearing a mask, a gown, and gloves, I sat next to my dad 6 feet away. Praying. Hoping. Crying. I updated him on how life was going outside the hospital walls and how I was holding down the fort for him. My dad was the king of the household; now, I am in his shoes.
With an uncertain future, we pushed on into the months ahead. Therapy every single day with uncertainty continues to hover over us. But, progress continues to be made.
My dad’s wounds never healed, nor did mine. Many days were devoid of hope. My dad lost his job and now relies on Social Security. I haven’t heard his voice since the strokes. That alone is what kills me inside. I will never have a conversation with my dad again. Now, I am his caregiver until the very end.
These wounds will never heal, but my dad and I push on. I love you, Dad, with all my heart and soul. I hope your spirit knows I’m doing everything I can for us. I will fight against my insecurities and continue to support and love you with everything I have left.
The author is an anonymous medical student.
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