It’s Al’s Turn: Something Was Wrong With Mom – Alexandria Echo Press

It’s Al’s Turn: Something Was Wrong With Mom – Alexandria Echo Press

It’s been 13 years since my mom died and I still struggle with what ifs.

What if she had immediately recognized that something was wrong when I spoke to her on the phone and immediately called 911?

What if I had dropped everything I was doing and immediately drove over to see her at Parkers Prairie that night?

What if we could have taken her to the hospital sooner?

What if bad weather hadn’t stopped a medical helicopter from getting specialized care to a Twin Cities hospital more quickly?

My mom had a stroke on September 11, 2009. In fact, she probably started showing symptoms of a stroke days before. But none of us knew.

My wife, Celeste, and I were having dinner with friends that night when I got a phone call from my brother saying something was wrong with Mom, who lived in Parkers Prairie. He and my sister had talked to her on the phone and she didn’t make much sense, stumbling over her words as she insisted that she was fine because she could write her name, over and over again, which in itself it was strange.

I called her too and there was definitely something wrong. She struggled to complete her train of thought and was confused about the details of what was wrong, but her vocabulary was sharp at times. She said she had an “excruciating” headache earlier that day, but she thought it was due to a serious sinus infection. She made it clear that she did not want to go to a hospital.

My brothers and I discussed things and thought it might be related to the new medications he had been taking. We also realized that a stroke was a possibility. We knew she needed to be tested. My brother and sister drove to Parkers Prairie and took her to the hospital in Alexandria. She promptly had a CT scan, which confirmed our fears of a stroke.

The doctor wanted to take her to stroke specialists in the Twin Cities, but heavy fog stopped the air care helicopters, so they had to take her by ground ambulance.

The next few weeks are a blur: a horrible night at St. Joseph Hospital in St. Paul, praying that Mom would get over it and survive a risky surgical procedure on her brain the next day when her blood would be thicker; moments of hope when she recovered; the dawning realization that the recovery was going to be a long one with different hospitals, physical therapists and speech experts; and the many frustrating conversations with her as she struggled to relearn what was once her favorite activity: talking.

The doctors changed his medications many times, thinning his blood each time it thickened, and then repeating the process over and over again. I am by no means a medical expert, but I believe all the blood procedures ultimately led to her death almost two months later on November 9, 2009. She suffered a pulmonary embolism, which occurs when a blood clot gets stuck in an artery. in the lung. She was only 73 years old.

I share this experience with the hope that it can save a life.

World Stroke Day was October 29. Stroke is the sixth leading cause of death and one of the leading causes of disability in Minnesota. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, outcomes are better for victims when they can get to the hospital for treatment as soon as possible.

Please help keep yourself and your loved ones safe by learning the warning signs of stroke. Remember the acronym, BE FAST:

B. – Loss of balance. Does the person have a sudden loss of balance or coordination?

me – Changes in vision. Vision suddenly blurs or doubles? Is there a sudden loss of vision?

F – Face fall. Is one side of the face drooping or numb? Ask the person to smile.

A – Weakness of the arm. Is an arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Do you have a downward trending arm?

yes – Difficulty in speech. Do they slur their words, can’t speak, or are hard to understand?

T – Time to call 9-1-1. If the person shows ANY of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to a hospital right away.

Do your best to get care for stroke victims as soon as possible. Don’t look back and wonder, what if?

“It’s Our Turn” is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial team.

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