Bowling, Birthdays, BBQ Breakfast, and Brain Blockages

My Mum has kindly given me permission to write about these things.  My Mum reads my blog, and I would ask that anyone who cares enough to comment please send her a note of love and kindness as well.

Last weekend was always going to be special.  It was my Dad’s birthday on Friday – the big 65 – my Mum’s birthday on Saturday – 61 this year – and their 39th Anniversary that same day.  My gorgeous sister, Bronwyn and her boyfriend, Phil, had come down to celebrate the triple whammy with us all.    Here are those sweet lovebirds.

Thank goodness Bronwyn was here this weekend.

My almost brother-in-law Phil, and my brother-in-law Rob both love Ten Pin Bowling.  To the extent that they each have their own ball, and Phil brought his ball from Townsville for the Wakefield Bowling Bananza we’d arranged as part of the birthday shenanigans.

Here we all are.  I tried to be all arty and focus on the shoes.  But I’m a sucker for the smiles

We had a whole bunch of fun.  I even won a game!!

After bowling, we went back to Mum and Dad’s ready to settle in for the night.  We’d organised for the whole family, all 8 adults and 5 children to sleepover at Mum and Dad’s.  We’d never done that before.  I’m so glad we were all together the next morning.

We spent a lovely evening together, only marred by our silly dog Angel running away (and although this is important, I’ll share more about that another day, or not).  It was one of those nights where the adults were comfortable at the dining table all night long, fueled by dinner, birthday cake and lots of coffee.  We told stories about life and each other, and we laughed so very very much.  We let the kids stay up until they crashed.

It felt like just the perfect family celebration, except that our dog had run away, but that is about as perfect as family gets, I think.

Surprisingly, we slept reasonably well.  Even if Dean, Sabrina and I were squished on a double sized fold out camping mattress on the floor.  And the kids, bless their tired snoring selves, didn’t wake up until about 7.30 the next morning!  Which for our kids, is AMAZING.

I love this pic of Bronwyn and my niece Presley, waking up together.  I walked in just in time to hear this gorgeous 3 year say in her best sing song voice “Aunty Bron, what are you doing here?”.  I tried to get a photo of the sleeping bodies sprawled all over the lounge room, but it was too dark and I was too tired.  And well, I didn’t realise how much it would matter.

Once most were up and about, we headed towards a huge BBQ breakfast feast.  We had bacon, eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes and capsicum ready for a huge fry up on the BBQ.  As the chopping and preparing began, Mum got up and joined us at the dining table.  I remember thinking that Mum was up earlier than I thought she would.  I’m used to Mum taking a little while to get going in the morning.

I have a vague recollection of Mum answering questions weirdly and saying fairly often “I’m just so tired”.  Sadly, I said to someone “come and ask Mum questions, it’s fun”.  At that time, I thought she was just really tired, and was struggling to string her words together.  However, not long after that, I remember my sisters and I clustering in the kitchen, worrying that maybe she was like this every morning, and perhaps Dad wasn’t telling us what things were really like for Mum.  It was probably about then that Bronwyn said “it’s like she’s having a stroke or something”.  None of us could summon a laugh.  We were already worried.  Just a bit.

And the day went on.  We gave that BBQ breakfast our attention, and within minutes this has happened.

My sisters and I went and sat with Mum outside over breakfast.  I remember coming to the table and Mum telling me a story that I couldn’t seem to follow.  She was telling that Suzie had fallen off the chair, but then it seemed that maybe it was Bronwyn that had fallen.  And then, apparently “Julie” came to the table.  But there was no Julie at our house.  Suzie quietly said to me it was Presley who had fallen.

By the time we were finishing breakfast, we were really worried.  Mum had called Bronwyn “Bruschetta”.  She had told us that “she loves airconditioners” when she was pointing at Suzie’s  sandwich.  Fortunately, Bronwyn is a doctor, and despite normally living in Townsville, she was here with us in Brisbane.  She did some assessment tests on Mum.  We started to talk to Mum about needing to go to the hospital, and Mum was really definite that she was just tired and “no thanks” to the hospital.

Mum then told us that she wanted to go inside.  Somehow we ended up sitting some distance from Mum, and we watched Mum start to work up to standing up.  Because we knew something was wrong, and we may need to describe it to someone later I decided to time Mum.  We watched Mum work on it.  Work on standing up.  For 15 minutes.  By then we were sure. Something was very definitely, very wrong.

Mum went and had a sleep, and we kept talking.  Bronwyn text a colleague, who confirmed what Bronwyn had suspected.  That the signs were that Mum was having a stroke.  Because Mum is already on blood thinners (the treatment for strokes), we continued on with the day.  Although she needed to go to hospital, there was nothing they would be able to do.  My heart breaks for Bronwyn.  She was the one who went and sat with Mum and told her that she thought she was having a stroke, and then came outside and told our Dad.

We organised lunch, not wanting to upset the children and trying to work with Mum so that she would go to the hospital voluntarily, rather than some dramatic ambulance event.  That would have been stressful for everyone.

Later that day, after Suzannah and Dad took Mum to the hospital, it was confirmed.  Mum had suffered a stroke.  An ischaemic stroke.  A blood clot had caused a blockage in my Mum’s brain, blocking the blood and oxygen flow, and all we could do was wait.

For the next few days, the text messages and phone calls flew between us.  At all times of day and night.  While we tried to understand what was happening, and how Mum was doing.

Mum was in hospital for a few days, while they checked her regularly and waited for the stroke to complete.  Once it was finished, Mum was sent home.  Our Mum hasn’t suffered any physical paralysis.  Her difficulties are with her speech.  Mum continues to use some of the wrong words, and isn’t able to carry a conversation as she used to.

I’m sad, because our Mum has always been an active participant in any conversation.  Mum is a scrabble champion, a lover of word games and an avid reader.  To hear her struggling to articulate herself is difficult.

We have another couple of weeks until rehab begins for Mum.  My Dad and my sisters are doing an absolutely stellar job of supporting Mum, and each other, and me, while we learn how to help Mum communicate confidently again.

Our life has changed.  Our Mum is different.  Hopefully, just for now.  My Dad and my sisters and I have leaned on, and into each other.  I hope that Mum feels that too.  Crying when we need (even when it’s at my office, or in the middle of the night), laughing when we need (com on, “Bruschetta”, that is a bit funny) and being grateful for second chances and plenty more hugs and laughter to come.

Life is a gift.  Live it.

K xxx

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About Kathryn Hodges

Hi! I'm Kathryn. I have many hats in this life. I am a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother (of 4!), a friend, a keen try-er of yoga, a lawyer, a business owner, an avid reader and a lover of this electronic world and it's connections. As the Principal of a wonderful law firm on the Sunshine Coast, Qld, Australia, I focus on seeing my clients as people going through change and I am committed to practising mindfully that I am dealing with people and their families. Precious stuff, hey! I hope you enjoy learning more about the things that impact on me, my life and my practice. Please leave me a comment, as I'm sure you have something you can show or teach me. We're all in this learning thing, called life, together xx Oh, and my professional obligations mean I have to remind you that my opinions are my own.
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22 Responses to Bowling, Birthdays, BBQ Breakfast, and Brain Blockages

  1. Michaela C says:

    Thank you for sharing this K. Much love to you and your mum. Don’t give up, things will improve. Xxxxx

    • Kathryn Hodges says:

      Thanks Michaela.
      That is so good to know. So many go through so much worse. And yet, this still hurts.
      K xxx

  2. Vanessa Moore says:

    Thnkyou for sharing the story. Funny, joyous family and yet sad as well. I feel for you and hope you have been feeling my thoughts of you this past week.

    The toughest part of being a son or daughter, I believe, is having to eventually deal with our parents mortality. I think I have learnt to treasure the moments of love and forgive the moments of anger and forget them very quickly.

    To “Kathryn’s Mum” my prayers are with you on this journey. Sounds like you have 3 beautiful daughters soI am sure you will be well looked after and very loved. Take care xoxo

    • Kathryn Hodges says:

      Thanks Vanessa,
      I have definitely felt your support.
      My mum, Brenda, will be touched I’m sure.
      This has definitely shown me how well connected we are.
      K xxx

  3. Debyl1 says:

    Dear Kathryns Mum
    You have an beautiful daughter in Kathryn, who often writes about the love she has for her family.You must be an incredible mum to have raised the warm,close family that you have.
    My mum had a stroke with symptoms like you and I am sure with all the love and support of your incredible family you will be on the mend and find your way back to your wonderful words once again, just as my mum did.
    It will take time and lots of practice but with your close,caring and loving family you will get there.
    I wish you well and will send healing thoughts out into the universe for you.
    Warm hugs.Debbie.xx

    • Kathryn Hodges says:

      Thanks Deby,
      I wish I had mentioned in the post my Mum’s name, Brenda.
      That is so encouraging for us to hear right now.
      One of the specialists said that Mum’s extensive vocab has helped her, by giving her brain more words to choose from 🙂
      K xxx

  4. Sharon David says:

    Thank you dear cousin for this insight into the events of last weekend….so similar to what happened with my wonderful dad (and your Uncle Graham)last September. We are still struggling at times as he is back in rehab after a fall…from his brand new, comfortable and considerably higher bed. Mum loves speaking to both your dad and mum on the phone and was comforted hearing her voice!
    It’s times like these when we realize just how precious our parents are and we must take stock and treasure all of our moments with them.
    Dad will be spending his 77th birthday in rehab on Monday not in the familiar and warm surrounds of home…
    Please give my love to your family and you will all be in my thoughts and prayers xx

    • Kathryn Hodges says:

      Thanks Sharon.
      The love and support that flowed meant so much.
      And I’m sorry to hear about your Dad. It must be difficult for you all.
      I don’t know if you feel it. I’m feeling some almost weird parallels in our lives!
      I’m so glad we’ve connected again.
      Love,
      K xxx

  5. Just sending love to you and all your family members Kathryn, specially your mum and dad.

  6. Lesley Richards says:

    Wishing you the best Mrs Wakefield. What a fantastic family you have raised! And, thank you Kathryn for sharing. I’m glad that we were able to lean on each other during this trying time for us.

    • Kathryn Hodges says:

      Yes Lesley,
      It was really just so great to be able to lean on you, knowing that you were going through something different and yet so similar.
      These parents of ours. What are they doing showing us that life is moving on? Oh that’s right – leading the way and sharing their wisdom.
      K xx

  7. Maureen says:

    Keeping your mum in my thoughts at this really difficult time.

  8. Viki McIntyre says:

    Dear Mrs Wakefield

    I don’t personally know Kathryn well, I used to work with her hubby Dean, and always love reading her updates about their family life. You must be a very special lady to have produced such a close family yourself, I am envious of the connection your girls have to each other and to you parents, it is very unusual to see these days. I am sending you my love and very best wishes for a speedy recovery, like you I am an avid reader and word game player and not sure how I would cope if unable to do either, but your prognosis looks good and obviously your favourite pastimes have become a benefit to your healing. All the very best, I look forward to reading about your future family get togethers. Xxx

    Kathryn…my best thoughts to you as well, you have done so well to carry on this last week, stay strong. Xxxxx

    • Kathryn Hodges says:

      Thanks Viki,
      I really appreciate these comments, and I read them to Mum.

      And keep reading, playing with words and telling our minds that they matter. Because this couple of weeks has shown me our brains are so very delicate.

      K x

  9. Jody White (née Stray) says:

    Wow…you are all an amazing family unit…Aunty Brenda, we are thinking of you & sending you all lots of love & positive thoughts…the strength in your family is just amazing & inspiring…so glad you were all together…lots of love, Jody xoxo

  10. Hello Kathryn
    I am so sorry to read about your recent experiences. I read about your little dog Angel which sort of guided me to your blog.
    My dad had a major stroke on his left side many years ago now, lthough he lost the useof his left side he lived for many years after and although life was different in many ways, my Mum, brothers, myself and my dad adjusted and continued to create many happy memories.
    I send my thoughts to you, your mum and all the family at this challenging time, you will all learn and grow from this experience and continue to laugh at each others behavior. Laughter will get you through! 🙂
    Ange xx

    • Kathryn Hodges says:

      Thanks Ange,
      There have been tears, sadness … and also plenty of love and laughter.
      I really do appreciate you sharing your story. I didn’t know much about strokes at all, and everyone who tells me their experience helps me to build a better picture of our future.
      K xxx

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