Skip to main content


Showing posts from January, 2009

I realize that this is a post most people won't understand...

But you will never know what it feels like to have every decision, and every word scrutinized for its accuracy. Now, before I go on I want to say that I know that the people who say something have only my best interests in mind, but it still give a stroke victim (or anyone else who has a problem communicating) a sense that everyone is just waiting for you next mistake. It really gives you a sense that every word you say is checked for it accuracy. Some people don't know what I am talking about, but when it happens, you will know it. For intstance, the other day I needed to go to the post office and I said the bank on accident. Could it have been the stroke? Maybe. The truth is I probably would say that wrong word before I had anything wrong with me. The truth is that people are more in tune to it now. Before, I might say something wrong and people would just overlook if I say something wrong people are more attune and they bring it to my attention. Now, as I said before, i

I had an appointment with my Speech Rehab specialist today...

She said that I should not be ashamed of the fact that I have to write things down or use a datebook...most people use them and never think twice about it. She also said that I am doing remarkably well...having said that, she is confident that I will NOT need to see her anymore. So, she took me off all restrictions which means that I can eat anything (that is not a no-no because of my Coumadin), and said that I should be able to adapt to any situation that arises due to my speech or short-term memory. I did also get some good and bad news from the patient rep. at the VA. She said that VA policies are different for admit and for transport. Because of that, the VA is going to take care of my ER visit locally and they will take care of the Des Moines VA bill, but the transport between Knoxville and Des Moines will be my responsibility. Why they will take care of the ER visit but not the Ambulance trip that they asked for is beyond me, but they do not cover it. The good news is that the VA

I had a good visit with my surgeon...

After telling me how good I looked (boy, am I glad beauty is in the eye of the beholder), he went on to show me a picture of my brain. It is interesting, the brain looks a lot different on a CT scan than it does in a book. Anyway, he said that my brain looked really good, from what he could see. He told me I should be back to NORMAL (don't you feel bad for Laura) in abut 3 - 4 MONTHS. Originally, he told Laura that I may not survive the surgery, then he said 6+ months of intense rehab, now he is telling her that I should be normal in 3 - 4 months. To say that I had a good visit would be an understatement. He is lifting my restriction (I still have to assume I have a blood clot) on lifting. Basically, he showed me all the dead spots on my brain, and he showed me where the swelling was. He told me that Dr. Karlstom did not expect me to survive the surgery. I guess you could sum up what he told me this way: He thinks that the over-the-counter medicine, combined with the High Blood P

Well, it seems that everyday is a big day now...

Everyone is getting sick of me saying this, but today is a big day for me. Of course, knowing the alternative, any day that I am vertical is a good day! But, today, for the first time since my surgery, I am going to meet with the surgeon that did my stroke surgery! I really want to thank him, because he did a good job with my surgery. I think it will be a bigger day for Laura (if that's possible) because it will be the first time she will be able to ask him exactly what he did. Overall, I think it will be a good visit, but I also think it will be informative, as well. I have an appointment in Iowa City with a stroke specialist on March 3. The Dr. wants me to have an MRA (done on the same machine as an MRI) beforehand. That will have to be done in the morning, then I have the appointment with the Dr. at 2:00. What they are having a problem with me is that they don't know what caused my stroke. They know, generally, what happened, but they don't know for sure what caused it.

I hav another CT scan today...

I will be in Des Moines VA for the first time since I was released in December. What is even bigger, sorta, is that this will be my 6th or so CT scan, but this will be the first one I remember. My wife tells me that I had a bunch of CT scans and an MRI or so and I don't remember any of them. My wife and my associate, Ethan, have been telling me a lot that I did while I was in the hospital that I have no memory for. I guess while I was in the hospital I carried on conversations with people...and I don't remember it!! I was telling people my passwords for Liberty, my e-mail, my student number...everything...the only problem is, I don't have any memory of any of it. One person remembers me having a whole discussion with her over my wife's cell number and her husband's name, but when I am asked about it, I cannot recall any of it. I do have slight memories in CCU. I remember some people being there. I cannot tell you anything that they said, I just remember the fact tha

I survived my first Pastor's meeting...

I had a genuinely good visit with everyone. Skip had some insights that I had not thought of before. We spent the first 30- 45 minutes talking about how God had to have everything right for us to come to Knoxville before my stroke. We talked about how this church, a year before I came, sold the old parsonage and bought a new one. The thing is, the old parsonage had everything important to a stroke victim on the 2nd floor. The new one has everything on the main level. IF they had kept the old house, I could not have lived there as soon as I am living in my current house. IF we had stayed in Stratford, I would have ended up in Knoxville anyway, because Knoxville is the only hospital in a 4 state region with Rehab facilities. So, it was a good thing I lived in Knoxville instead of Stratford. Also, the Dr who assessed me, Dr. Benjamin, was not supposed to be in my room. She was only in my room because someone told her that I was not doing very well, and she "happened" to be outsi

Today is another big day...

Okay, I know that for most people going to work alone is not a big day, but for me it will be huge. I will drive, get in and get to work by myself. My parents left today and my wife is at work so I will be alone for (really) the first time. I have been alone at work before, but this will be the first time that I drive and really GO to work alone. Second, I have a meeting today. This will be the first time I have seen any of these pastor since I had my stroke. What will they think? Are they prepared? Will I be like I have always been? All these questions are in my mind today. Skip Hansen, who is our District Executive Minister, was at the hospital or calling my wife nearly constantly. This will mark the first HE has seen me since I have been home for good. Frank Cook met me at the hospital (I don't remember it, but I will take my wife's word for it,) will be there. He visited me several times while I was in the hospital. This will be the first time HE has seen me since I have b

I had a good day today...

There are two issues to deal with. First, it felt good being back in the pulpit today. It was really natural. It snowed like crazy today, but we still had 180+ in church. We had several visitors today that I hope will become regulars. They visited from within the community, so I hope they will be back.  Second, I thought I did very good. I may have rambled a bit, and relied a little bit too much on David and his relationship to his son, but that had more to do with how I prepared the message than my delivery. I thought my delivery was as good as could be expected 6 1/2 weeks after a stroke. (Actually, being upright is really good when you take into account the type of stroke I had). But I had many people comment that they could not tell (keep in mind that they knew) I had a stroke.  I received a standing ovation when I returned to the pulpit. I have to confess, I have preached nearly 600 messages in 15+ years, and this is the first time I felt nervous. I was not nervous like my knees k

Last Night I had a good time at the Rec. Center.

Now, I have to be honest. (Why is it that preacher's always tell you that they are being honest now...). I was a little apprehensive before because I did not know how much I would be able to do. Would my limitations get in the way of once I got on the floor? When I arrived, I found out that I did not have to worry about the weight room and the exercise room because we did not have that reserved. I did not venture into the pool (even though I could have as long as I stayed in the shallow end). That only left the gymnasium. When I arrived, I could do very little, so, I was worried. After everyone else started to arrive, I loosened up a bit. I had a good time fellowshipping with the people there. I guess we ad 75 - 85 there. Considering how cold it was (about 8 degrees) I thought it was a good turnout. Over the night, I found myself doing more in the gym. At the beginning, as I said, I could do next to nothing. By the end of the night, I was running across the gym floor and shooting 3

I went to a movie today...

I went to Marley and Me today. It was a good movie. The bigger thing was I had POPCORN today. This is the first time I had popcorn since my stroke. I know, it is not the best for me, but it was sure good. I didn't put any extra salt or butter on it, but it was good just the way it was. The movie itself was very good. The dog part was good, but I was much more emotional watching the kids, because I remember when my kids were that young. Boy, time seems to fly by but I would not trade them for anything. The greatest part was watching the woman (Jennifer Aniston) choose to stay home. I know that not every woman can afford to stay home, but to have a major motion picture glamorizing a woman staying at home was refreshing. Tonight we are having our Rec Center night at the church. We are reserving the Rec Center for 2 hours after it closes. From 7:15 to 9:15 our church (we had 70 - 80 at our chili cookoff in October). I will be looking for about 100+ at the Rec Center tonight.v I am look

I got a call from my neurologist yesterday...

I was amazed to get home and find that I had a message from my VA neurologisgt. She said that I will have a follow up with a Dr. in Iowa City coming up. She said that the Sroke specialists are in Iowa City and she would just feel better if she knows that they have done everything the  can for me.  I called her back and spoke to her receptionist. I had a real good chat with the receptionist. She said that she has never met me, but cannot wait to meet me. She said that my story has affected  many lives of people in Des Moines VA. When you think about my situation, it does seem that God divinely reached down and protected me. For instance, if the church still had the old house, I would probably would not have gone home when I did. The old house had a main floor and everything else (indluding the only bathroom) was on the 2nd floor. The house we have now, everything is on the main floor, which allowed me (I think) to go home early. Also, Dr. Benjamin was not SUPPOSED to be in my room when

Today was another big day...

First, it is the last working day before my big day. I go back to preaching this Sunday. My mom says that I am like a cat on a hot tin roof. I cannot sit still. I pace all over and I am fidgety. I can only guess that it is because of this Sunday. The church (which, I am gateful for) is really making a big deal over this Sunday. This will be my first Sunday back, so, yeah, I'm a little nervous. Second, I got my license. If you have been following my blog, you know what a big deal this is. I feel now that I have a level of independence that I did not have before. I drove to my wife's business while she was at work by myself. It felt great to be behind the wheel again. I DID have a laughing fit at her office (I don't know if I said anything that funny or if it was a part of what the Dr. told me to expect.)  But, anyway, I drove alone for the first time since December 8th. Boy, did it feel good. Third, I ran across the street. Now, normally I am not supposed to run and I am not

I got my license back...

Well, I passed the test to get my license back. I was supposed to call my Dr. for her to sign a paper saying that I could get it back. When I called, the Dr. said that I needed to call Iowa DOT. DOT says they never took my license in the first place. What does this mean? It means I could have been driving the whole time. I didn't know that, but I could have. But, I am glad that I have my license. Now I can drive anywhere I want to. I might drive to Kansas City just because I can!!!

I made my first trip without my wife yesterday.

I went to Wal-Mart. Now, I know that for most people that is a normal, hum drum, trip. But for me, it was a big trip. For me, it was the first time I was out for the first time wihtuout Laura since my stroke. I did call her, but I was just giving her a hard time more than anything else. I must admit, Laura has been a wonderful caregiver, but it felt good to go somewhere without my "security blanket". It also marked the first time I was in my mom's car since I was transferred to the Knoxville VA. I rode from Des Moines to Knoxville in my mom's car, and that trip to Wal Mart marked the first time I was in her car since then. I know, I know, it was a small thing, but everything is big for me.  Today will be a big day becauae today I SHOULD get me driver's license back. I know my appointment will be a 1:00, and I think I should practice before then. I don't how long or where, but I think I will practice sometime today. Oh, by the way, I did get a new phone through

I can still remember that my eyes were not that good..

I remember the Drs. and everyone else telling me that I would have problems with my eyes after surgery. I did not know what that meant, becuase I did not have any problems reading any books that my family brought me. I didn't have any problems reading my Bible, or my devotional book or anything. I thought that the Drs. might have expected everyone elde to have eye problems, but certainly not  me. Then my son brought me my iPod (yes, I have an iPod). I noticed that I could not read the letters that tell me which speaker was left and which was right. No matter how hard I tried, I could not read them. It was the first time I realized that I DID have eye problems. I guess I just put them in and if it was not the correct one, oh, well. I also remember that when I first started walking, the people in my foreground would waver a little. It was my eye problems that caused the wavering. I cannot explain it to you, but people in my line of vision would move around. I am better now, but my ey

I guess I am not back to normal

I feel good. My wife is sick to death of me saying that, but it is true. I really feel good. But, I am not back to normal. I tried to jump the other day, which was the first of my fiasco's. When I jump, I feel weird. I don't know how to explain it, but I feel weird. I tried jumping the other day and Laura said I look strange when I do. When I come off the ground, I think that the rest of my body tries to compensate. When I lose contact with the ground, the rest of my body does not have any sensory input as a guideline. When I am in the air, my legs and everything feels strange. I know that I have said this before, but my Dr. said that I need 5 sensory inputs to give me good balance. I need a good cerebellum, good joints, good eyes, good ears, and a good inner ear. Since I don't have a good cerebellum anymore, my eyes, ears, inner ear and joints try to take over. When I am in the air, they don't have any sensory input to adjust upon. I know it sounds weird, but trust me,

Last night my wife really opened up about the ordeal

I don't know, I guess I never thought about how it was for her to see my ice glass, or to see me laying on a hospital bed unresponsive. I know that the stroke affected me in a tremendous way, but I have never stopped to think about how it affected my wife and kids. She told me the kids were crying when they got to the hospital because they did not know if they would ever see daddy again. That is pretty terrifying for children 7 and 10, not to mention a 16 year old that is just about ready to finish his first year driving. It was a pretty traumatic experience for everyone involved, which makes me appreciate them more that I am home. Yeah, it irritates me when my 16 year old does not get his jeans into the laundry room and then complains that he does not have any jeans. Or when my 7 and 10 year old fight over a littlest pet shop toy. But, the alternative is having them bury their father, and that makes me enjoy the little things. I may not like all them, but I enjoy seeing them.

I told you I would update you on the cell phone company

Last night we called again and this time the lady on the other side was quite helpful. She was appalled when we told her the story of how the other lady treated us. She was even more appalled when she heard that the other lady asked ME if I was on the line when the offer was made. (Just a side note, but I am ashamed to say that if I could have crawled through the phone line yesterday I would have.) Though we are still not certain of our future with U.S. Cellular, we did get satisfaction last night. When we called, it was with the thought of discontinuing in mind. The lady last night was very helpful and (can you believe it) did not accuse Laura of making up a story. She was kind and all I can say is that we did not end the conversation with us leaving U.S. Cellular. Still, when I think of how we were treated by someone that is supposed to be a professional at her job, I want to call the main company and lodge a formal complaint. They have already done it, but I want to know that no one

I just got off the phone with my cell phone company

Let me tell you something, some people have no idea what others are going through. The lady on the other end of the telephone had the audacity to ask me if I "was on the phone when the man promised my wife 500 goodwill minutes". Now, keep in mind that this was after she was told that my wife was in the hospital waiting room and I was in recovery from a stroke . My wife, in the middle of the worst tragedy in my family to date, is told by a customer service agent at the company that she would be given 500 goodwill minutes to get her through this mess, then she opens the bill and finds out that the 500 minutes are not  there. Then she calls to say that the 500 minutes are missing and finds out from Miss. Knowitall that U.S. Cellular cannot give 500 minutes to a non-authorized user. Then I got on the phone. I tried talking to her and reasoning with her, but there was no reasoning. She was sure that no one had promised any goodwill minutes on the bill. Keep in mind that my wife ha

I just found out today that my test got delayed...

I got a call this morning from the VA. The person who does the driving test won't be here Wednesday so I won't be able to do my test until Friday. He has to be out of town for a funeral this week and won't be in town. I feel bad for him. I don't know what that is like so I will gladly postpone my test. I have decided that the things I can control I will, the things I cannot I won't try to. I cannot control when my test will be, so I will just be glad to have it whenever he decides it will be. It'll only be 2 more days that I have to rely on someone else (of course, my wife will have to drive me around for 2 more days.) Looking on the bright side, that just give me 2 more days to practice my driving before the test (yay, Laura!!!) 

Today I really thought about things...

This morning I really thought about things from my wife's perspective, in fact from everyone else's perfpective and I thought, "How selfish have I become." I have given little thought to how the other person feels toward me. I have only thought how they must affect ME. I never thought about the woman who graduated from William Penn and I was not there to congratulate her. I never thought about the kids in the band and how they must feel doing a benefit for someone most of them have never met. I never thought about my kids, how they must have felt the first few days watching me in a hospital bed not knowing what would happen to me. Most of all, I never thought of how my wife feels. She has had to do all of the driving, all of the ice-scraping, all of the bill paying, all the running to the bank, all the running to the store, all the picking up the kids from their activities. I could say, "Yeah, but she did not have a stroke." The question comes when I ask mys

I did have good night driving...

It was a little icy but I had a good night driving. I drove around the parking lot a little and then I drove home. It felt good to be behind the steering wheel again. After I went out driving we went to Mr. C's for dinner. The waitress there, who also works at the Court House, did not hear about my story, but read about it in the paper. Tomorrow or sometime soon I should have an iterview with KCWN Christian radio to talk about my situation. Overall I am really pumped. I really want to tell my story of God's faithfulness to as many people as possible.  Taking God out of the equation, someone please give me a SCIENTIFIC reason for my recovery. The truth is that there is not one. According to the best science has, I should still be in a hospital bed somewhere. Putting God back in the equation, God is the reason for me being here. God is THE reason why I am here. There is no other reason. YES I am a driven person, YES I was only 38, YES I was in good physical shape, but NONE of tha

Tonight I should practice driving

This may be a big night for me. I should practice driving in a parking lot tonight. This should be a great night. I am a little bit nervous getting behind the wheel again, but I think I am ready. I don't know yet what will be expected of me from the VA on Wednesday. I have to call tomorrow and find out if the VA needs me to bring my own vehicle, or if they will provide it. I will also be practicing tonight for Sunday. Overall this should be a big night for me. I know it has not even been 6 weeks yet, but it seems like it has been an eternity. My dad has been struggling with this for over 7 years. I know that it can be done, but it has been hard. I don't know what is harder, knowing I can and am not allowed, or not being allowed. If I simply wasn't allowed, then that would be all of it. I simply would not do it. BUT since I can, but am not allowed, it is harder because I know it is something I used to do, but will have to work into it. Speaking of things I used to be able t

I (should) get my license back Wednesday

I have often said that I GET my license back Wednesday. I guess it is more appropriate to say that I SHOULD get my license back Wednesday. I go to the VA for a test on Wednesday of this week to see if I can get it back. This week I need to drive a little with my wife to get a little experience back before I go in. This will be a big step for me. It will give me a little more independence. I really appreciate all the people that have shuttled me back and forth to Dr. visits, but I will be glad when I won't have to rely on them any more. My wife may pull her hair out for the first few week. I have jokingly told her that when I get my license I will be a WILDMAN. (She may catch me some Friday night "scooping the loop") But really, it will just be one more step I have to take to get my independence back. I am really excited about this visit. There have been very few Dr. visits I have been excited about. Going back to Methodist for the first time was pretty exciting, and goin

I am going to bare my heart a little...

Ok, I know that men are not supposed to do this, but I am going to do it anyway. I feel like everyone is having to rearrange their lives around this one event. I know they are glad to do it, but it is not what I would like to happen. I need rides everywhere, I know, but I don't want everyone to re-do their schedule for me. It happens more than you might think. I don't know if I will be able to stay at someone's house because there is always something to maneuver around. They would be perfectly willing to tell everyone to move the obstacles, but then they would be altering their life for me. I don't want that, even though they are glad to do it. No matter what I do, someone has to take my hand or be with me. If I go downstairs, it can only be if someone is downstairs already (although I went downstairs yesterday. I don't think my wife knew it...) I cannot even go to work, only 2 1/2 blocks away, by myself. Someone either has to take me or someone has to come pick me

Today I was thinking...

While I was at lunch Laura was talking with another person about while I was in CCU. She said that while I was in CCU there was another person in CCU across from me. That made me think, why am I walking and talking while they are unsure about the other person? Is it because I am a Pastor? Is it because many people were praying for me? What about all the other people that had people praying for them?I don't know; I do know this: there is no scientific reason for me to be anything but laying in a hospital bed or in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. I honestly do not have the answer to that question. I do know that I use every waking moment for God and for His cause. I know other people that have done the same thing and they do not receive the type of answer I did. Is it because I preach a pure Gospel? What about people that have preached a pure Gospel before me and do not have the type of answer I do? Maybe it is because I preach that you OUGHT to be baptized after you are saved,

Today I led the service at church.

The morning started with a meeting (informal, of course) with the deacons. It was decided that I would do a "dry run" for next week by doing the opening prayer, the announcements, the pastoral prayer and the pastoral song. It was a re3ally good feeling to be able to do all that and not be tired. It felt good to be back in the pulpit. Swann Juline preached, so I didn't have to. Ethan was at winter retreat for the Senior High so he was unavailable. I often joke with him about having "a vacation" but I know that it is a lot of work taking the Sr. High to retreat. We were missing about 20 or more people for travel or sickness. I think we still had about 150 or more. I shudder to think how many people we would have if everyone were there the same Sunday. We would probably have 225 or more. (That is theologically speaking, of course). Overall it has been a good Sunday so far. Someone payed for our meal at Godfather's so we had a free meal, making for a GREAT Sunda

Thursday my youngest daughter lost her two front teeth

On Thursday my youngest lost her first tooth while I was gone. When I got back, she showed me a big grin missing a tooth. Then, she showed me later that she had lost another tooth! So, now a few weeks after Christmas she has finally lost her two front teeth. What a blessing to be present when she lost her two teeth. A month ago I was still in a hospital in Des Moines. Now, 4 weeks later, I have been at work for a week and my youngest has lost her front teeth. What a MONTH! My wife said that while I was in CCU wating for surgery, Madelyn, my youngest, said that I would rather be in Heaven because in Heaven nothing goes wrong. While that may be true, I am glad I was here to see her lose her front teeth.

This is the first night that I feel really normal

Tonight I am sitting watching 7 brides for 7 brothers with my oldest daughter. My youngest is spending the night with a friend. My oldest is off with the Jazz Band. Tonight I feel fine, there is little slurring of my speech and there is little stumbling. Tomorrow I will be at church for the third week, and next week I will start preaching again. I cannot wait. My wife is complaining that I do not write enough about her, so she is watching the movie, too. She went to the movie last night and watched "Elf" with us. She has been very faithful to me. I would not be here if it were not for her. I do not want to discount the contribution she made to me while I was in the hospital. Tonight I really feel normal again. I don't feel tired, I don't have any problems with anything tonight. I called my deacons and my wife said that my speech was not slurred at all.

I have found myself more emotional these days.

Today I let my youngest daughter, 7, go to a friend's house. I cannot believe that I let  my girl go. I NEVER let  my older kids go before they were 10 or so. I guess I am more emotional these days and I know how much these little ones mean to  me and how much more they must mean to God.  I guess I just would say that these days I am an emotional bean bag...I go from one state to another quickly. The other night I was watchng "Elf" with my kids. I usually just laugh all the way through. The other night I found myself CRYING at the end. It was the part when they all are singing, and Santa was going through Central Park. I know it is just a movie, but I guess I, for the first time, came face to face with what my kids had to go through during THIS Christmas season. What a Christmas, going to see their dad in the Knoxville VA! But, to their credit, I never heard them complain. I only heard them grateful that I was close enough for them to see every day if they wanted to. The

Today I got a card from someone I don't know.

Today I got a card from someone that I have never met before. I cannot begin to tell everyone what it means when they hear my story and want to give back to me. I realize that the story I have effects different people in a different way, but this family said that instead of giving Christmas presents to each other this year, they wanted to buy for someone who really needed it this year. Their child (I don't remember if it was a son or daughter...I will have to read the card again) said that they heard my story on KCWN Christian radio in Pella and wanted to help me out.  This sounds like a good idea. Christmas has become nothing to kids these days except a day to get more stuff, why not give to someone else. It really drives home the meaning of Christmas to the children. The more I receive, the more I want to give to people. It absolutely amazed me to receive this card from a total stranger. Maybe next year our family will do that. I will have to talk it over with my wife before I sa

I will try to post the newspaper article about me here.

                                     Knoxville rallies behind minister It may be next to impossible to prove the existence of miracles, but an ordeal for one Knoxville family may make a strong case in favor of it. "I shouldn't be having this conversation with you," Pastor Jim Mead of the New Covenant Church said last week. Jim suffered an intra cranial hemorrhage and several mini strokes in his brain stem on Dec. 9. He was told that most people who suffer these attacks on the brain either find themselves confined to a wheelchair or dead. Around 4 a.m. Dec. 9, Jim told his wife, Laura, that he felt funny. He was stumbling around and vomiting. They believed he had meningitis, so they went to the Knoxville hospital and clinics. He was transferred to the Knoxville VA Medical Center, then to the Des Moines VA. Jim underwent three CT scans and an MRI. A VA neurologist asked Laura if Jim had suffered any head trauma. Jim was stroking and his brain was beginning to swell. "

I have come to keeping a cane by my bed...

The cane helps me stability at night. I have found that at night I stumble quite a bit. The Dr. said that the stumbling was because I lost my Cerebellum. He said that it takes 5 good inputs to have good balance  A good eye, a good cerebellum, good ears, good joints and a good inner ear. When any one of those is taken away than usually the other 4 take over. Since I don't have a good cerebellum, if I take away another input (total darkness) it makes my balance be off. The Dr. recommended that I keep a night light or a Cane by my bed at night or both. I opted for both. I  have a CD player that acts like a night light and I have someone from the church that gave me a Cane. Now I use both of them if I have to get up at night for any reason. Last night I had to get up several times and I found myself using the Cane regularly. At first I did not want to use it. (I guess it was just stubbornness). Now I actually look forward to the Cane. I guess since I only have to use it at night, it wi

I just got back from my first movie

Our family went to see "Paul Blart: Mall Cop". I must admit that I did not know what to expect when the lights went out. Would I be normal, would I lose my balance, would I be able to enjoy the movie. But I have to say (aside from the fact that I still can't eat the popcorn) that the movie experience was quite enjoyable. As for the movie itself, it was quite a movie as well (even though it is not a movie that the critics will like). I have found, though, that if the critics like it, I will probably stay away from it. I seem to like the movies that my kids like and they all loved this one. I really enjoyed listening to my kids laughing during the movie. I seriously did not know if I would ever hear that again so I really enjoyed the night. There is a twist at the end that you won't see coming, but I won't tell you about it now. Overall, I really enjoyed the evening out with the family and I would never have even thought that a night at the movies could be that e

Well, I just got back from another appointment

The pharmacist and the Dr. now want me on Wafarin AND Lovenox for the next week or so before they test me again. I am content with the current regimen they have me on. Next week I also have an appointment to see if I can get my driver's license back from the VA.  I have an appointment on Wednesday at 1:00. That will give me a lot of my independence back. I really appreciate those that have gone out of their way to get  meto appointments at the VA and other places, but if I can get my license back, that will be the biggest boost to my morale so far. Today an article came out in the Knoxville paper about me. I thought he did quite a good job. Some of the quotes are not in the right order, or things that are attributed to Maddy were actually Shaylee's, but, that is alright. Overall he did a wonderful job.

I had another test today.

I had my INR tested today. If you have had a stroke, you are well aware of the INR. If you have not had a stroke, your INR basically tells the Dr. how slow or how fast your blood clots. They want mine between 2 and 3. It was 1.5 Monday. They upped my dose of Warfarin on Monday from 28 mg a week to 32 mg a week. I thought it would be better today. So far it is a whopping 1.2 on my finger stick. The lab is waiting for my vein blood draw to come back before they change anything. What worries me is that the Dr. said yesterday that it must be in my blood. He said that there are 3 basic causes for a stroke. The first is my heart, but they checked and it was ok. The second is my arteries and veins. They are ok. The third and most likely is my blood. So, they will have to find out what is wrong with my blood. I have to remember that I am only 5 weeks post surgey. It will take time for them to find out exactly what my dose of Warfarin should be before it is right.

This will be a little long, so bear with me.

December 8 th started out a normal day. I had a little bit of a cold, but I felt generally good. I went to get a massage; I went to where my wife worked, and I did what I normally do. It was a normal day. December 9 th ; however, did not start as normal. I had problems walking; I had problems with the room spinning. I thought I had vertigo. After much deliberation and many calls to the hospital, it was agreed that I should go to ER.             At first the hospital thought I had spinal meningitis, but that diagnosis turned out to be false. That is all I remember. It turns out I was having a stroke. Not a minor one either, but I had an “intracranial hemorrhage”. If one were to take all strokes, 80% would be caused by a blockage or a clot. Only 20% are caused by a hemorrhage inside the brain. Most of those are in people 55 or older. I was truly a rare case so Dr. Piper at Iowa Methodist hospital agreed to take me on.               When I was having the stroke my wife, Laura, aske

I went to CCU for the first time yesterday.

When I went to CCU, I didn't know what to expect. Would it be an emotional time or what? To my surprise, it was not emotional at all. It was a time of rejoicing where I had been and where I am now. Laura showed me around and I was surprised that the nurses remembered me and Laura as soon as I walked in. Laura and I talked with the nurses quite a bit and they were shocked at how well I am doing.  Laura showed me around the CCU waiting area and showed me the places where she slept and where she sat when she was waiting for me. Then she showed me Methodist's cafeteria. It was fantastic. I can only say one thing, I may have been in CCU, but she ate well! She got a card from the cafeteria that allowed anyone with her to eat up to $5 for free. So, my mom and dad ate for free, my kids ate for free, my Associate Pastor ate for free. They have everytihng there. They have a place where you can just get a salad, they can get a pizza, they can get Chinese  Food, they can get really anythin

I had my follow up from Iowa Methodist.

I had a good follow up. The Dr. said that I was doing well. He was actually astounded by my progress. He had me walk heel to foot, touch his finger, touch my nose and many other things. He did reccomend that I go to Iowa City to follow up with a stroke specialist. But, he was very pleased with everything I told him. His only area of concern was with my INR because it was a little low. He wants it at between 2 and 3. It was only 1.48. So, he wants to keep me on the Warfarin as long as my INR is low. The VA wants me off the Warfarin in about 2 more months. Then they want me on low dose Aspirin for pobably the rest of my life. But the Dr. at Iowa Methodist wants to see me on Warfarin longer. But he was just offering his suggestion. He also said that the reason I have problems at night is because I have had both sides of my cerebellum removed. Apparently there are 5 parts of your body that are necessary for balance. If any one is gone, then when another is taken away, it makes balance wors

Today I am going to Iowa Methodist for the first time.

I was there from December 10th until December 19th as an an inpatient, but today will be me first trip to Iowa Methodist not as a patient. I have an appointmet with Dr. Khabani and will be there to see him. I think it will be an emotional trip for me because it will be the first time I have seen the CCU nurses since my stroke. They took really good care of me.  It is strange, but I do remember turning the satellite to K-Love while I was in. I don't remember anything that they said, but I do remember the nurses turning it. Laura says (I don't remember this) that she thought I was saying "get off" when what I was saying "K-Love" is on. 
Today my Dr. called from the Des Moines VA. His name is Dr. Sullivan. He is going to make an appointment with a specialist from the Iowa City VA. It bothers him that they can't get to a reason why this happened to me. They have run a panel of tests, but they still don't know for sure what happened. Dr. Piper THINKS that I had a birth defect that allowed the muscle wall to weaken allowing an excess of blood to go into my brain. BUT they want to rule out other reasons for a stroke to make sure this kind of thing does not happen to me again. A good thing that happened was that I had my second night back at AWANA tonight. I toyed with the idea of cancelling it. I am glad I didn't because we had over 30 kids that came tonight. I did the opening and the story time and closing. Boy did it feel good to be back for the 2nd week. I have a follow up appointment tomorrow with Dr. Khabani in Des Moines at Iowa Methodist. He just wants to check on my progress. I will write more after tha

It is taking awhile...

It is taking awhile to get used to everything in my body being different than it used to be, but I am slowly getting used to it. My hands are the worst of it. I can't seem to get my hands to do what I want them to do. I can't write, I can't type. I guess I can a little, but I am not like I used to be. I used to type and write without thinking, but now I have to think about everyting I write and type. I can't clap like I used to. I clap different from the way I did the rest of my life. I know, I know it is a little thing, but I can't do anything like I used to.  It is a big thing when you realize that everything in your life will be different. Whenever I have a headache, I have to ask myself if this is a normal headache, or am I having another stroke. Whenenver I have a simple cold I will never again be able to take over the counter medicine. I will have to go to a Dr. It is a small price to pay, but it is different from the first 38+ years. I  might talk normal agai

This is weird, but it is important

When I had the stroke, I was amazed that I could remember everything up to the stroke and I could remember everything after the stroke, but the things during those 2 weeks, I don't have any recollection. My wife and my Associate Pastor keep telling me about people that would stop in and I guess I turned my head toward them, but I don't remember them being there. I guess that is normal, but because it is not normal for me, it seems weird. It is also weird that during my Occupational Therapy, the therapist said I had a slight problem with my left eye. Now the Eye Dr. says that I have a problem with my right. It is a small problem that is only noticeable when they do an exam, but it is there. I'll have a follow up apointment with my VA eye Dr. in 6 months, but until then it should not bother me. I also notice that my typing is not so good. I know what to type, but getting my fingers to cooperate with me is a challenge. Sometimes it is better than others, but this morning when

I went to see the eye DR. today

He said that I have slight damage to my optic nerve due to my stroke. It will take time but I should get my vision back the way it was before my stroke. It's funny, I know, not funny, but interesting is a better word, but when I went to see my Occupational Therapist she said that I was having problems with my left eye. Today the Dr. said that I was having problems with my right eye. I will be careful when I get my driver license back. I have a follow up appointment with the eye Dr. in 6 months to see if see if I am making progress with my eyes.
I had a minor meltdown last Tuesday. It was the first time I had to grieve my life before my stroke. When you realize that life will probably never be the same again, it is an overwhelming thing. I must have cried for at least 2 hours or more over the possibility that I had a stroke. I could not believe that I had a stroke. I went to the Rec Center every day, I had lowered my Cholesterol, I had lowered my blood pressure. If anyone shoulk NOT have had a stroke, it should ntot have been me.  It seems now that the part of my brain that they had to take out deals with my ability to deal with emotions. That explains the outburst on Tuesday, my shortness (though I have learned to deal with it) wth my children. Everything has been affected by my stroke. That really is an overwhelming thought. Life as I used to know it will probable never be the same again. These are all small prices to pay considering the alternative, but it is a reality that I have to deal with. The Speech and memory terapis

I guess I should back up...

My wife first suspected I was having the stroke on December 9th pretty early. At first she didn't know what to think because I was just stumbling around. I don't remember much of that morning, but my wife says that I was hitting my head against the wall trying to get to the bathroom and such. That was when she called the local hospital 911 because it was only 4 a.m. and she did not want to wait until 8 a.m. when all the Dr. offices opened. She wound up calling the nurse at Mercy 911 and she said that I should go to the local emergency room to get treatment ASAP. I can only guess that I was having symptoms of the stoke 3 or 4 weeks before my actual stroke because I wa having sudden intense headaches. Looking back, I can see that was a sign of a stroke, but I attributed it to using a new bathroom cleaner. Now the Drs. think I had a "perfect storm" sort of speak that all came together. I had borderline high blood pressure, I was taking over the counter cold midication th

When I woke up...

I had a bunch of stitches in my head. My wife said I also had a shunt in to relieve the pressure is my head. Dr. Bejamin said (to my wife) that I only had 2 or 3 hours before I passed away from the pressure on my brain and in my head.  My head (5 weeks removed from surgery) still itches but I have had all the stitches removed completely.  I woke up in CCU at Iowa Methodist hospital. I vaguely remember people coming to see me. I don't remember anything they said, I just remember that they were there. I had surgery on December 10th and I woke up on I think December 13 or 14. I was moved onto the 5th floor of Iowa Methodist and was then given the option (at the bargain rate of $2,000 - $6,000 a DAY) to move to Younker Recovery and Rehab. I served in the Army from 1989 unil 1994 so I qualified for VA treatment at the VA rehab center in Knoxville. I don't remember being at the Des Moines VA the first time, but I remember this trip to the Des Moines VA center. I was there from Decemb

This will be my first post, but here goes

You know what's funny about a stroke...I know, I know, there's nothing funny...but the funny thing is that I heard my wife talking about this peron who had a stroke and I thought to myself, "Hmm, who had a stroke that I don't know about..." Then I looked around and found that I was the only person in a hospital bed and figured she must be talking about me.  The interesting thing is that I remember everything up to the str0ke, but I don't remember the stroke itself. I can remember things I would rather forget (like this season's primaries and presidential election) but of that 2 weeks I have no recollection.  I'll have to take my wife's account of that 2 weeks as gospel because I don't remember it. (I do remember talking to a lady from the first church I pastored and she said that she tried to come see me when I was in the hospital. I said that she should have just said that she was there, because I would not have known it!) Speaking of my wife,