A year ago on Good Friday my wife, Kay, suffered a massive
stroke while we were visiting friends John and Chris Oltman in
New Glarus, Wisconsin.
She was taken to the University of Wisconsin Hospital in
Madison and treated there, then transferred to Marianjoy Hospital
in Wheaton. After that, she spent 10 months recovering in the
nursing facility at Oak Crest DeKalb Area Retirement Center where
we live. One month ago, she came back home.
So this year on Good Friday, we decided to celebrate her
first anniversary as a stroke survivor, and guess what happened?
She ended up in the emergency room at the Galena Medical Center.
We had gone to
My wife Kay in the ER at the Galena Medical Center
last Friday awaiting test results. (Schrader photo)
the Eagle Ridge Resort for a three-day respite with our younger
son, Darrin, who was with us one year ago, as well. This time
it was much less serious, but nonetheless unnerving.
She had a bladder infection that caused delirium, and she
couldnt even tell the ER nurse where she was or where she
lives. After an exam by the physician on duty, a urine sample,
then an hour wait, it was determined what was causing her erratic
behavior. By the next day the antibiotics had taken effect and
she felt well enough to return to our home in DeKalb. By Easter
Sunday, she went to church, ate Easter dinner with family, and
continues to enjoy the visit by our son.
Since she has come back home, I have learned what life
is like being a full-time caregiver. The new normal
keeps us both busy working on her rehabilitation as she continues
her struggle with speech recovery and memory loss. But the progress
is evident, and her happiness at being back in familiar surroundings
is a joy to behold each day.
Getting back to the ER visit, I had written a column a
year ago about what you should have with you at all times, traveling
or just around the area. Did I take my own advice and keep it
a year later? Well, almost. We did have: a list of medications
and extra doses in case we were away longer than expected from
home; a list of known allergies and meds to be avoided; insurance
cards, names and phone numbers of our doctors; a medical directive;
power of attorney. But we did not have a photo ID or drivers
license and Social Security number. I had put away her drivers
license and Social Security card for safekeeping.
In her confused state, caused by the UTI, she did not know
her number, nor did I. The ER admitting clerk was very understanding
and asked that we phone the information to the clinic when we
got home. So now I have photocopied the two cards and will add
them to our travel package. I probably should have taken photos
of all the documents and stored them on my smartphone.
So I repeat this advice to everyone who travels, even a
hundred miles for a day trip: be prepared.
Next year on Good Friday, I think we will stay home, relax
with family and maybe have a cookout in the backyard. But then
again, what if the grill catches fire or the food is not cooked