Dad's stroke

I don’t actually know how long it’s been since my last post - I kind of got myself into a little bit of a rhythm with life in the compound, yes I still have my days where I feel lost, a little empty and like I have zero purpose - but for the most part, I think I was beginning to accept it and realise (with the help of a few very clever and straight thinking people) that life was still happening, I still had purpose; in fact my purpose had just shifted. Shifted to my immediate family of three in my household. Of course my extended family, who aren’t in the compound with us, are still my purpose - but the two fellas that I share my house with - were my main purpose. To be here for them and present with them when needed.

So cruising along, beginning to feel glimpses of the Kellie I know, getting new wedding bookings for the future, lots of enquiries, starting my little side project “Live from the Compound". Life was semi-normal for me.

*SIDE NOTE* As I write this now, I am 4 episodes in and I am loving it. It is giving me a chance to connect with people again - giving me reason to have a shower, do my hair, put some make up on and feel good.

Then the phone call came, Monday morning, it was my Mum - “I am really worried about your Dad. I realised he wasn’t in bed with me last night about 11:30 - so I went into his dungeon (TV room) to get him to come to bed and when I spoke to him, he didn’t respond to me for what felt like a minute” - then he finally responded (quite vaguely) and said"

"I can’t move, can you help me up?" She tried to help him, even though she is sporting a very sore hip. She got him up, then he fell. He crashed, his head hitting the door frame on the way down. She got him up again, made sure he was ok and then got him into bed. He then settled off to sleep after having one of his shivering attacks. (This is not out of the norm for dear old Dad. Weird I know, and I don’t know what the hell causes it, but he does it often - so no cause for real concern here.)

The next morning he was still little “off” he could talk and walk, but he was a little unsteady on his feet, so she was keeping an eye on him. By afternoon, it got the better of her and she rang the Dr - they said that they would schedule an appointment for him tomorrow to “assess what is going on”. Monday night Dad was still off, a little jumbled, but Mum did what she could do and after consultation with my brother, she did the Stroke test and Dad seem to pass, that, and he was telling her that he would be fine. So reluctantly, she shrugged it off. Dad has had little episodes like this in the past and everything has been ok, no scary results from tests, so it must just be something like this again.

3am Tuesday morning, Dad was NOT OK - he got up to go to the toilet and fell. Again he was shaky and unsteady on his feet, his speech a little slurred, but still insisting he was ok and wanted to sleep it off. So they did just that, they waited until the morning.

8:30 am Tuesday - Dad was MORE THAN NOT OK! Mum called the ambulance and they informed her that he needed medical attention ASAP. The ambulance was on their way to get him - so Mum got him ready. In the meantime, his speech and steadiness deteriorated at a rapid pace. Thankfully these angels in blue got to Mum and Dad's house within 10 minutes and told Mum they would get him sorted. They would call her when he was at the hospital and knew more. So, Mum rang me. Through lots of tears she managed to get out “I think he’s had a stroke, they’ve taken him away and I couldn’t go with him” I held it together (fuck knows how) but told her to get dressed , pull herself together and drive up to my house. I would absolutely be breaking our household lock down for her to come and be with us for the day, we would face this together.

I had a funeral family meeting to conduct at 11am via ZOOM - so, as to not let this beautiful grieving family down, I conducted the meeting and it went for about 40 mins. Some might think, seriously Kellie, what the hell? But, If I am honest, it was a pleasant distraction for those 40 mins. I could focus my attention to helping someone else, as I knew there was nothing I could do for my Mum or Dad at this time.

The meeting finished, I walked out into the kitchen to greet my Mum who was sitting at the kitchen table with my husband and son doing a puzzle, then my phone rang - it was the hospital. I think I must have frozen after answering when the lady told me who she was and what she was calling about. I somehow managed to get “yes” out to the question “is this Kellie, are you Wayne Harris’ daughter? - So I need to let you know that you Dad has suffered a major stroke, we have given him some medication and he seems to have improved slightly within the last 5 minutes, but we will be sending him down to Melbourne Monash Medical asap for further investigation and possible surgery”. I had the phone on speaker phone and had walked out the front to be joined by my Mum - who I looked across at and could see the pain all over her body - “So can we see him?” I asked. “Unfortunately the ambulance will be taking him as soon as possible, so I am sorry but no, there isn’t time. But someone will call you when he gets to Melbourne to update you on his progress”.

Amongst all this happening, I had managed to sneak out a few texts to my beautiful Mums group bestie who is an ambo. I told her what was going on and she said she would get up there and see what was happening, and that she did. She went up to the hospital, talked to the Drs and Nurses and sat with Dad. She was in fact there when the Dr / Nurse or whatever she was called me. She text me and told me that they were sending him to Melbourne and that she would come to my place right now and debrief Mum and I further.

Within 10 mins Kassie as in our driveway in her ambo machine and she calmly proceeded to reiterate what the lovely Nurse had told me earlier. I think hearing it from someone you know, love and trust makes you understand it a little better. My Mum just stood there for a while taking everything in - but I could see the pain on her face. She was riddled with guilt thinking it was somehow 'her fault' for not acting sooner. But it wasn’t. And my dear angel "K" reiterated that, and that seemed to calm Mum a little.

Off "K" went, I then insisted that Mum accompany me for my daily walk. We walked around the block and talked, not even particularly about Dad - just talked, like we do. I think it made us feel a little better to just “be” together.

Anyway, the rest of the day happened, we drove out to her place, checked on the chooks and their eggs, played ball with Bowie in the front yard and ran around chasing him on his “farm bike” whilst he did wheelies in the dirty puddles. It’s amazing how kids' lives just “go on” when you don’t alert them to the fact something bad and scary is happening. And it’s amazing how watching them just “be” helps us switch off from the shit and have even just a brief second of relief. Anyway, I am rambling - we came back to my place, played puzzles, watched some TV, I went for another walk (cause exercise is my savour right now) and then I prepared a beautiful roast pork (something which we could never cook when Dad was around, because he HATES Pork). Then a nurse from the Melbourne hospital called to update us and get some further information from us about the last few days. She told us that Dad was currently undergoing surgery to remove the clot - she didn’t know how he was or how long he would be in there, but a Dr would most definitely call us once the surgery was finished. So, with that we ate dinner and just talked, about what - I have no idea to be honest. The time didn't seem to pass very quickly at all for us.

Throughout the course of the evening Mum's phone rang about 5 times, each time we both went white and almost froze from the sound, dreading who would be on the other end. But for the first 4 phone calls were concerned family and friends who had gotten wind of the news and were calling for an 'update'. WE DON’T HAVE ONE for the 4th time, I wanted to yell down the phone - but I didn’t. It wasn’t their fault we didn’t have an update, they were as concerned and worried as we were - calm down Kellie.

Anyway, the 5th time the phone rang, it was the hospital, they had finished Dad’s surgery. He had had the clot removed and hopefully things would improve from here, No clear indication of the damage or what is to come as yet, but they would monitor him closely. Apparently one of his arteries was quite narrow, so this was the next hurdle to tackle when they were able. But for now, he was ok and he could talk (not to be easily understood, but he could talk).

Those beautiful nurses could tell that Mum and I were shit scared and we just wanted to hear his voice, to calm us, so they made it happen. Dad came to the phone, (well it was passed to him) - “Hello” I think this was what he said, I couldn’t really understand, his speech was so slurred. Then he managed to get out “I’m scared” a few times. Mum and I spoke to him and calmly tried to untangle the mess that was coming out of his mouth - he asked about Bowie and his best friend Tom - so he must still be semi ok. Anyway the phone call got a bit much for me. I don’t know if you have ever heard one of your parents struggle to speak due to a stroke - but fuck me it is quite earth shattering. The call ended and then Mum, Dan and I digressed a little. Mum was exhausted - she decided it was time for her to go home and now this is it, this is where we are at - she left - I immediately went to have a very hot and long shower, put Bowie to bed and then came straight to my desk to write this, I don’t know why, but for some strange reason, getting this out on a page is helping me come back to earth and not just feel like being numb. I am back here now at 4:45am editing it because goodness knows, my mind was not in any way clear enough to post something like this when it all came pouring out.

I guess tomorrow (now today) we will know more. We have been told to call the hospital for an update tomorrow afternoon around 1pm and we will then be told if we can come down and see him and what the plan of attack is.

So for now, I guess I try and get some sleep (yeah well that didn't really go according to plan). Tomorrow (today), I get up, exercise, begin writing my funeral service for Mrs Bannister, maybe answer some emails, eat some food, and of course; drop everything and run to Bowie’s aid for the million times that he calls out "Mum" from every room in the house that I am not in. All whilst I wait anxiously for the time when I can call the hospital to see how my dear old, grumpy, scared Daddy is doing.

I am scared too Dad, but I really think you will be ok.

Seriously though, does everyone else on the face of the earth just want the year 2020 to fuck right off? None of this is going according to plan!

Thanks again for reading, and if you have made it this far, again - well bloody done.

All my love from our compound to yours. If there is someone in your house with you, please go and hug them.

K x

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Photo credits: Sherise Fleming Photographer & Danae Studios

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