The Not So Invicible Father | Teen Ink

The Not So Invicible Father

March 1, 2016
By G-writer GOLD, Grantville, Pennsylvania
G-writer GOLD, Grantville, Pennsylvania
12 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Quarter to eight the morning of March 3rd,2013, while I lay sleeping soundly in the next room, my father complained of a headache. He held his head in his hands for a split second, groaning and complaining of pain before his body would deny him self-control, before constants would become variables. At eight a.m. on that Sunday morning before church and family brunch, my father suffered a hemorrhage stroke. He was 51 years of age.

There are three different kinds of stroke, Hemorrhage, transient ischemic, and ischemic. A hemorrhage stroke happens when a blood vessel bursts and bleeds causing tissue damage. A transient ischemic or “mini stroke” occurs from a temporary blockage in the brain. An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel that takes blood to your brain becomes blocked, most commonly a blood clot. According to, Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. It claims more than 140,000 people die each year from stroke. 40% of those deaths occur in males and 60% occur in females.

My mother rushed into my room, her cell phone crunched against her ear, fear in her eyes. Still in her pajamas, she pulled me from my bed tore my blankets away from me and in a professional, secretary-like tone she instructed me to flag down the ambulance. “It’s okay, I’m sorry. Just go. Daddy is very sick.” She said, she then spoke loudly into the phone as she left me. My hands began to shake as my mind drifted away. I tripped down the stairs, my head so full that my thoughts ceased to exist. As I stood on the frost covered grass of the barn hill, I ground my teeth until my temples pulsed. The sheep bleated at me as I stared down the road, my feet carrying me to my mailbox. The ambulance promptly pulled in, breaking branches as they drove under the trees covering the driveway. After throwing our belongings away from the front door and showing the EMTS the way upstairs, I stood in the kitchen, listening to the clamor in my parent’s room. Soon they came tromping down the stairs: my father looking like a lamb for slaughter, his eyes that of a stranger, my scared mother and the cluster of EMTs.

Anyone who knows my father would agree he was always a hard worker. My family would describe him as a workaholic. For as long as I can remember my father has worked on average eight to fifteen hour days. He owns a repair shop, towing business and car lot, which until his stroke, he managed on his own, along with a boarding house and the farm where we live. He Managed all of this while still caring for his five children, wife and an array of lost souls who seem to gravitate toward his commanding personality. Growing up, working in a feed mill, he learned the value of endless hours of back breaking work. His garage has always been his escape, full of raggedy friends and broken cars. His hands have been stained with grease since seventh grade. Arguably, from either working around motors or late nights with loud amps around him and chewed up drumsticks in his hands playing in a garage band, his hearing had been damaged. Still, stroke came like a thief in the night.

According to every year approximately 795,000 people suffer a stroke, 600,000 for the first time, 185,000 recurrent attacks. Atrial fibrillation, blood disorders such as sickle cell disease and anemia, diabetes, atherosclerosis, and heart disease increase risk of stroke. The most common risk factors for stroke are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity. High blood pressure of 140/90 or higher is the leading risk factor for stroke. When blood pushes too forcefully against the walls of your arteries it can damage or weaken them.

Just two weeks before the stroke, my father began taking high blood pressure medication. He was nearly crushed under a car that slipped off the jack, creating muscle strain. He began to display irrational anger and his temper became unpredictable. He had been complaining for some time of blurred vision and frequent headaches. At the time we did not recognize these as stroke warnings. Many people are unaware of the warning signs of a stroke. A popular phrase in the stroke awareness realm is BE FAST: Balance, Eyes, Face, Arms, Speech, Time, relating to an individual’s physical appearance when having a stroke. Balance is an individual’s ability to equally distribute their body weight. A stroke victim loses this ability. Eyes refers to an individual’s vision that may become shaky or blurry. Face refers to the individual’s personal appearance where they may experience drooping of the skin due to the lack of muscle control. This can make the individual appear to be melting. Arms refers to the control or lack of in an individual’s arms. Time plays a critical role for a stroke victim. If you suspect an individual is having a stroke, seek medical help as soon as possible.

After living in the ICU for 40 days my father transitioned to Rehab where he remained for another two weeks. On the 20th of April, he returned home, but he would be bed ridden for two more months. He maintained a physical therapy regimen for the next year. On March 19th 2014, a little more than a year from the stroke, he was released from rehab.

Each year since his stroke he is required to have a CAT or MRI scan performed to ensure his good health. He will remain on Losartan Potassium, Citalopram, Metoprolol, and levetracctam for the rest of his life. Many of my father’s nurses, doctors, and friends refer to him as a “walking miracle”. Those who survive strokes often suffer emotionally and physically crippling disabilities. As my father’s rehabilitation nurse said “He is a lucky, stubborn man.”

My father now works eight to twelve hours rather than eight to fifteen. He and my mother run a repair shop, towing business, and car lot together. They still own a boarding house and run the 34-acre farm we live on. We live with the threat of a seizure hanging over our heads. My father suffers from vitamin deficiencies resulting in a dependence on electrolyte beverages and snacks high in potassium as well as anxiety resulting in the permanent use of medication to manage these deficiencies. He approaches life with a more urgent manner. He suffers from short term memory loss but his long term memory became amplified. “Taking medicine doesn’t really bother me. It makes me slow down, time normal.” He said. Without the medication, he claims to “move too fast”, feeling as though his brain will “short circuit”. My father has little to no recollection of his stroke, even the time he spent conscious in the hospital is foggy to him. Since his stroke he has learned the value of a good night’s rest. His sleep is “solid. Fine.”. He rarely experiences dream’s and when he does, he has no memory of them. He no longer snores. When he over exerts he becomes tired, his motor skills slow and his speech slurs. He continues to recover although released as “healed” nearly three years, ago he will never be completely healed and that is okay. My family now realizes that every day we have together is precious, frustrating but precious, as my father said “stroke or no stroke, use whatever time you have left wisely.”

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This article has 2 comments.

G-writer GOLD said...
on Jul. 22 2016 at 11:03 am
G-writer GOLD, Grantville, Pennsylvania
12 articles 0 photos 2 comments
@anonymous06 Thank you very much for reading. I can never stop writing. Thank you.

on Jul. 19 2016 at 1:16 pm
anonymous06 PLATINUM, Northbridge, Massachusetts
35 articles 5 photos 31 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." -Thomas Edison

Literally in tears. I'm so sorry you all had to go through that, but I'm happy to hear things are much better now. And that last line really hit home. Keep writing!