For a few months it’s been a whirlwind for our family, and unfortunately it’s not the move that took it out of us.
I’ve debated for weeks how to talk about my father’s health. When the man who has always taken care of you, been the strong one, slowly slips into a state where he is nearly unable to care for himself, it’s hard to grasp and harder to explain. Life changes in the blink of an eye.
Around the time we announced we were moving back to GA, my dad starting having a few health symptoms that were out of the ordinary, and the week before we moved my dad landed in ER after losing sensation in his hands and feet. It took a full day in the ER to diagnose him with Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS). I was in Minnesota, preparing to move across the country, a few days from flying home feeling helpless and worthless.
Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) – A condition in which the immune system attacks the nerves. Per WebMD:
What is Guillain-Barré syndrome is a problem with your nervous system. It causes muscle weakness, loss of reflexes, and numbness or tingling in your arms, legs, face, and other parts of your body.This rare condition can cause paralysis and lead to death. But most people get better and have few lasting problems.
Heard of it? Me neither. His condition escalated quickly and his health deteriorated over a matter of hours.
My dad and mom spent multiple days and nights in the hospital. The treatment they gave him helped fight the disease and stop it from spreading, but it’s not an instant recovery. I have no idea how either of them managed, but after about a week he came home.
When he was diagnosed, we told close friends and only a few were able to tell us stories of people they knew diagnosed with GBS. Most were healthy twenty-somethings that ended up being paralyzed for months or having vision loss for a short time. GBS is a bizarre, gnarly, disease.
The road to recovery was uncertain, doctors saying anywhere from 4 weeks to 4 months to regain all feeling and normalcy — maybe. The wild part, like a bad cold, you have virtually no energy and everything takes a load of strength to get through. Grocery shopping can wipe you out for a day. The road to recovery is long.
Taking care of kids is one thing, but being a caregiver to adults is on a whole other level. For starters, kids aren’t set in their ways. Beyond the physical pain, there are the insurance claims, prescriptions to fill, doctor and rehab visits to attend, etc.
I’ve always known that my mom and dad have the strongest marriage, but we saw their love and testament to each other again. I honestly don’t know how either of them went through it, but they will tell you it was God’s grace, prayers and loads of support from neighbors and church.
After all of this GBS excitement, we hit another massive speed bump. About 3 weeks ago, I drove to work and called my mom for a typical check-in on dad. I could hear in her voice, his voice, something was wrong. With everything we’d already been through we weren’t sure what was going on. My dad was up for multiple nights straight unable to sleep because he had a sensation like he couldn’t breathe. [I think something has to fall off before my dad does anything.] What started as flu-like symptoms turned into another trip to the ER. The rest is a blur because later that day my husband was the one who calmly told me, get in the car and go see your dad.
The entire drive to the hospital was eerily serene. It was 5PM rush hour, but I didn’t hit traffic, and I still remember driving into the sunset and the warmth I felt on my face. I wasn’t sure if I was talking to God or if he was talking to me, but I knew whatever the outcome it was out of my hands. Me, the hysterical one, couldn’t even form a tear.
At the ER, the nurses rushed me right back and that’s kind of where I wanted to lose it but seeing my mom and dad I knew someone had to keep their act together. It was bad, and it was after another day of testing that they found a massive blood clot in his lung. They were afraid to move him, afraid to operate. All the GBS medicine was putting him at risk for surgery.
He was given medicine to help prevent more clots to allow his body to break up the beast. Basically, hanging out until slowly he started showing signs of improvement. From the ER to the ICU, I hate hospitals. The exhausting part is being there. After sitting for a few hours I would go home absolutely knackered. The whole vibe of hospitals is not my thing. I only go for babies. This is me whining, my dad never said a peep.
The doctors have told us, after all the hullabaloo, that he had a 50/50 shot of survival. God is good. God was present. God is present.
This past weekend, the whole family got together. What would have been a normal weekend felt special. How lucky are we? My dad’s health is improving every day, thankfully. That man has patience like no other. My first goal home with my dad is to put the 25 pounds he lost right back on. I love my daddy jolly. Second goal, get this man to a Georgia game. Third goal, fishing trip with the grandbabes.
This story is wild, and I’m probably not the best at narrating right now. What is oddly comforting, I’m home now and spending time with family has never meant more to me. I get it.
Psalm 138:3 — “In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul.”