Living With A Stroke

August 14, 2008
“Dad come on lets go,” I told my father.
“I’m not going to no hospital,” said my father Steve.
“Dad, Mom already scheduled your appointment with Dr. Johnson.”
“No, I said I am not going.”

My father and I always had our differences, just like any other father - daughter relationship. It was sort of like a never-ending scary and familiar rollercoaster. Sometimes my father and I were the closest people you would ever meet, other times we were total opposites.

Although he is not my biological father, he has his moments where he would go the extra mile so that being my “biological father” or “step-dad” did not even matter. They were only terms, not our life. As far as I am concerned, he is my father. He would drive to the end of the earth for me, fight Freddy and Jason both.

I did not know exactly how much I loved him until one cold but sunny morning in October, when my mom had set up an appointment for my dad. We knew he was not going to be the easiest person to get to the doctors office, however at whatever cost he needed to go.

I walked away looking for the black house phone. In the meanwhile, my father was still sitting in the dining room at our large wooden brown table. He looked flustered, angry, confused, and sad all at the same time.

My dad was supposed to go to work that morning, but my mom had noticed something strange in the way he had been acting lately. He was not able to put on his clothes half the time. He needed things repeated to him more than once even if it was just said to him five minutes earlier, he would need it repeated.

The phone was in our orange couch. I called my mother because I knew even if he was late; he needed to see Dr. Johnson, right away. As I listened to the annoying ringer, I began to grow even more impatient because I missed school on an important day to go to the doctor with him. He was still sitting there rubbing his head and looking as if he was completely stressed.

“Mom, Dad is just sitting down in the dining room…I know but he said he ain’t going.”
“Let me talk to him,” my impatient mother, Erica, said.

I began to walk stiffly toward my father, because I knew there would be some arguing, since my dad and hospitals were like oil and water.

Life as the Drake’s and Coleman’s used to know, no longer existed. We all love Steve Coleman, but as my mom jokes, financially, “he picked the wrong time to get sick.” There is nothing good about having a stroke except it lets you know how much you actually love someone.

A person’s life is dramatically different after a stroke. Being speech impaired, not being able to put on your clothes right, not being able to go back to work, not being able to help your family as you used. Being treated like a baby, “no you can’t do this” or “dad sit down,” all makes my father angry and sometimes very emotional because he really wants to get back into the habit of being the man of the house and providing for his family not the other way around.

It also affects everyone that is around that person. There are many guidelines you have to follow being around that person. You have to give up certain things that used to mean so much to you. Make sure everything is absolutely spotless while you’re away and the “stroke patient” is at home by him or her self. Having to sit there at the doctor's office for an extra twenty minutes just repeating to the doctor what the patient said. Having a person with a stroke in your household is just like having a newborn baby. Cooking for someone else, washing someone else’s clothes, and helping them get a bath.

I cannot speak for my sister or my mother about their true feelings. However, I know that I have been emotional drained the last couple of months. I stay up at nights because I am worried about my dad, constantly not knowing if he is going to be with us the next month, or even the next week. I used to cry when the stroke very first happened, but now sometimes I cry just so I do have sometime to myself, no one wants to be with a 16-year-old crybaby. I used to just care for myself, or sometimes just making my 8-year-old sister some noodles in the microwave. Now I have to help my dad put on his pants, make his coffee 15 times a day, and light his cigarettes about 10 times a day. I love my dad very much, but since when did I become his wife, taking care of him “through thick and thin, sickness and in health.”

I have complained almost every day since October about something different every day, but I do not know why. Why am I the one complaining, the one always wanting to run and hide? He is the one that will never go back to the way he used to, not knowing how to feed or dress himself. I know I will never be able to get my dad back 100%, but I will get at least 80% of him back.

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