Where to begin…
It has been one month since 9/3/14; on that Wednesday I had an Ischemic Stoke.
When my wife said I was slurring my speech and my face looked a little slack on one side, I ignored the early warning signs. I just said, “Well, we’ll sleep on it and see about it in the morning.” I got up and went to work, my gross motor skills working more or less and got work about 45 minutes later.
But when I walked in to my work station and a fellow employee said “Hello,” and then, “What’s wrong?” I figured something must be amiss. I still had the slurred speech when I tried to talk and I had no fine motor skills on my left side… I couldn’t hold a pen to write anything but chicken-scratch and my ability to even log in to my work screen was weak.
The office then had me sit in a low chair and they called the paramedics. Who hooked me up to a blood pressure cuff, and immediately hauled me off to Kaiser – Anaheim (La Palma) and their emergency room / Stroke victim ward. Four days there of IV’s and insulin shots and a series of tests.
A CAT Scan, MIR, etc. determined that a combination of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes/high blood sugars, and stress resulted in a small (temporary) blood clot that caused the ischemic stroke. They let me go home on Sunday the 8th of September. I was to follow-up with my private doctor within five days. (Joke’s on them – I don’t have a private doctor!)
When going to get the three prescriptions filled, our pharmacist mentioned a doctor in the same building who saw patients at a super reasonable price of $50.00 a visit for cash-only patients – and with no medical insurance – I qualified! To see him as soon as possible, we opted for his ‘no appt. – wait til there’s an opening – times of Thursday from 4pm to 6pm. After a 90-minute plus wait, my turn. (I’m no expert on doctors but I think I lucked into one who is qualified in stroke treatment.)
After a 20-minute visit (no rushing, lots of questions, and a few basic office tests) he concurred I had suffered a stroke, and prescribed a couple of alternate meds from what Kaiser had prescribed, and some follow-up tests. Now, almost a month later, I haven’t had the tests done that he requested, nor the blood work, or the other referred to people he suggested I visit. Again, cash only, no insurance, and to see any of the people he recommended (occupational therapist, speech therapist, physical therapist, etc.) required the one thing in short supply – money.
The following week it was off to social services. Three hours of waiting to fill out some forms and then wait some more – before seeing someone who said I don’t qualify for any benefits the month of September because I received a paycheck on the 5th of the month – I can reapply in October. Forms completed online, forms completed in person, waiting on hold, waiting in line, waiting… waiting… oh, hey, they called my name! You need this other proof of ID before we can proceed… home do I make it through to the end of the month?
This week it was Social Security Administration. There it was another waiting game and fill out these forms and let’s see…yes, you will qualify for a couple of programs – but one will not kick in until January 2015 (three months away) and the actual check would be paid in February – and the other (SSDI) takes three to six months to see if you qualify. Great.
So, here we are… playing a waiting game for services that I’ve paid into all my working life. And the tough part is that during this waiting time with absolutely no funds coming in from any source, it has become necessary to give 30-days notice to our landlord. (We can’t wait simply ‘hoping’ something will come through in time to avoid being evicted.) And we have to try to plan whom to give the bulk of our furniture and other household goods away to since we cannot afford to store anything. I am a big fan of the idea of minimalism (my wife is not), so getting rid of most things will be easier on me than on her.
So at almost 62 years of age, I am essentially going to have to depend on others for a few months to survive while waiting to see how much I recover from the stroke. The doctors have said it will be three to six months or more before they can determine how much fine motor skills I recover and how much coordination and balance I will get back. They said 100% recovery is “possible” but not realistic. But I can, with proper treatment, diet, change of lifestyle, etc., expect maybe 90-95% recovery. Exercise protocols, a diet tailored for reducing blood sugars, high blood pressure, and a lifestyle that reduced as much stress as possible at the primary prescriptions for now.
Starting over at 62 is scary – I can’t depend on doing the things for work that I used to do for living. But as my masthead tag says, “It’s never too late to become what you were meant to be.”