June 14, 2000
The Stroke

On Palm Sunday at St. Joseph's Episcopal Church, the priest and the congregation waving palms, acted out the procession of Jesus into Jerusalem.  It was a Red Letter Day.  When we left church, we were scheduled to go to brunch with David's parents before they departed for the summer.  We were both dressed up, David in a pinstripe and I in a burnt orange suit I had bought for the occasion.  My new shoes were still adapting to my feet.

After church we stopped by home briefly to let the puppy out before going to lunch.  I noticed the flashing light on the answering machine indicating a message.  The message, it turned out, was from Sandy, the nurse on dad's unit. She had tried to call me twice that morning because Dad had a pronounced lean to the right, which had gotten progressively worse.  It looked like a stroke.  Unable to reach me and very concerned about dad's lean, Sandy sent dad to the emergency room.  David called the restaurant where we were expected for brunch to leave a message we could not make it, and off we went to meet dad in the emergency room at the hospital.  We had no idea how he was.

It was a busy day in the emergency room.  We finally got in to see dad at 7:00 pm.  Dad was in a bed, and he seemed to be feeling better.  He was delighted to se us, even under the circumstances of an emergency room visit.  In a couple of hours, the doctor, the smart and cautious Dr. Zakiah Wynn, came in to see us and let us know that dad had had a CAT scan, and they were waiting on results.  The room we were in was all white.  There were gray counters and cabinets around the walls. A sink and paper towels were mounted on one wall.  There were two large white plastic garbage containers with lids in the room.  There was a curtain that could be drawn around the bed.  Someone in one of the other emergency rooms was having an aneurysm.  Someone else seemed to have been shot or cut up pretty badly.  Police waited with at least one of the patients.  David and I took turns sitting in the visitors' chair and on the revolving stool.  I think it was after midnight when I heard that dad's results showed some sort of unusual looking shadow in his head that could have been evidence of an earlier stroke.  This anomaly called for further tests.  David's head bobbed in and out of an uncomfortable sleep in a chair.  He had to manage a week of Easter holiday production and sales at the store starting on the following day.  I lay my head and shoulders on the foot of dad's bed, and dozed until 5:00 am.

At five dad was admitted to the hospital for tests and observation.  David and I went home and got a little more sleep.  At two o'clock the next day I went back to the hospital.  Dad was still undergoing tests.  This first day in the hospital he was in a lovely new-looking room on the ninth floor.  He was hooked up with an IV.  An occupational therapist and a physical therapist came by to evaluate his abilities.  Everyone seemed to have a friendly, positive and concerned bedside manner.  I fed Dad his lunch and dinner.  I sat beside his bed.  He was very happy.

The next day he was transferred to the neuroscience wing.  He was beginning to get restless.  He was still hooked to the IV, but he didn't know where he was.  He had a window, and one could see the countryside between Chapel Hill and Durham from it.  Even some unmistakable Durham landmarks were visible.  I showed dad the view out his window, but dad cannot always focus his visual attention on the objects I point to.  This view, however, did seem to calm him temporarily.  I kept the TV on cartoons and public TV.

On the third day he was discharged back to Britthaven.  The doctors said that dad had had a mini-stroke, and medicine was prescribed to help prevent these in the future.  Dad had been missed at Britthaven and enjoyed a warm welcome.  He seemed glad to be back, not plugged into IVs any longer, and able to move around at will.  Because of this crisis, a lot of attention was focused on him.  Dad has responded as positively as he ever has to a lot of attention.  He seemed to have suffered very little damage from the stroke.  He was perhaps a bit more disoriented and possibly had a little less speech, but I am so subjective.  I adjust myself to his physiological losses day by day, so that I never really notice them, and I cannot tell whether a particular incident represents dad's decline, or my own tiredness.  The range of behaviors that I have learned to accept as normal is very broad, far broader than that of your average person.  At any rate, dad is okay.  I have a lot more to write about these last few weeks, the intriguing events and the blessings that have come our way lately, but I am tired.  I have so much more that has to be put into words.   I need a little more time for all the rest.   So for now, I'll just say this story is to be continued.....soon.


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Besides Tommy's section of the site, the following pages are also related to Jesse and Tommy:
Blurred Time "The Sleeper": the aftermath of Jesse and Bobbie's car accident
Mike Craver's "Visiting Tommy"
Roots of the Red Clay Ramblers:
Fuzzy Mountain String Band: Jesse's mom, Bobbie, recorded with Rambler Bill Hicks and others
Hollow Rock String Band: Tommy and Bobbie Thompson named this band for their community

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June 14, 2000