The Serious One

Yesterday was strange.

Because while we were doing jobs at mum’s to try and stop her feeling that the house and garden was getting away from her, my mum was in a hospital on the outskirts of Middlesbrough being diagnosed with a mini stroke.

We knew that just after arriving at my mum’s house, and it left a cloud over the whole day, but – equally – we knew that mum was with my aunt and a couple of friends and that she was being looked after. After all, it was with these same friends that she had her mini stroke in the midst of a game of snakes and ladders.

Now, you can say what you like about the NHS, but I fucking love them. I love them for the care they gave to my dad before he died. And I love them for the adverts they produce for the F.A.S.T. stroke diagnosis thing. Because that’s immediately what my aunt and her friends went through with my mum. And then she was straight to hospital, where she was assessed and checked over and seemed, on face value, to be fine and dandy.

So, that’s where we were yesterday. Carole and myself toiling at mum’s. Mum in the care of a hospital and then released into the care of my aunt and her friends rather than coming home. I was a bit miffed by this, initially, because I wanted to see my mum. I wanted to be reassured that things were okay. But, you know, I’d Googled the whole stroke thing – fool – and also knew that it was probably better if she was with a group of people who could keep an eye on her pretty much 24-7. They were in a caravan, so there’s not a lot of personal space to be had.

And all was good.

And then I slept like shit last night. Tossed and turned and spent quite a while at four this morning convinced that my aunt was going to ring with terrible news and my world would collapse around me.

She didn’t ring. She sent a text.

And my world did collapse. Not fully. But enough.

Mum had had another stroke this morning, we weren’t to worry because she was in good hands and all that jazz.

Needless to say, an Easter trip to Middlesbrough was very much on the cards.

Let me tell you what the adverts don’t tell you about a stroke – while there’s the Face, Arms, Speech and Time thing they don’t tell you the other bit for when you get to the hospital and see your mum for the first time.


We got there and my mum was like a combination of my mum and not my mum. She was all over the place. And she just seemed so frail. Part of me wanted to turn around and just run away to somewhere else because I honestly didn’t think I could cope with the whole thing. Watching my mum try to eat a chocolate pudding was heartbreaking. There was no co-ordination. No rhythm to anything. Just jerky movements which were all over the shop.

Like I said, fucking terrifying.

The stroke – which they think the mini-stroke was actually the beginning of, rather than a separate event – has knocked out my mum’s vision in her left eye and knackered her left hand. Mentally, she’s as good as she’s ever been. Maybe she was a bit confused this morning when we got there, but she’d been whisked around hither and thither and it was a hell of a lot to take in. And I was just hyper-aware of anything and everything because I was scared. So absolutely, arse-clenchingly scared.

I’m less scared now. A lot less scared. I’m worried. But scared has retreated somewhat. I’m just worried about the fact that she’s up there for now, and we’re down here. I’m worried about the fact that she’s my only remaining parent. I’m not ready to go “full orphan” yet. My mind is a whirl of what ifs which I am trying so hard not to listen to, because that way madness lies as you try to imagine countless scenarios of what will happen down the line. And I’m worried that we’re going to get sick and tired of the food choices on offer from Wetherby services.

I’m trying to look at it from day to day. Hour to hour in some cases. Mum when we first got there was so different to mum when we left. And she wasn’t hooked up to any machines when we were there, which has to be a good thing. She was just sitting, chatting and, this is the only way to describe it, coming round as if she’d been in a really deep sleep. Her vision’s still buggered for now – literally a week after we’ve submitted her over 70’s driving licence application in which we stated her eyesight was fine – and her hand’s all over the place – she has a vice-like grip at the moment which she can’t really control, so if anyone has any jars they’re struggling to open…

But, no, on a more serious note hopefully that will sort itself out with time and exercise.

That’s not to say I’ll sleep any better tonight than I did last night. Because I don’t think I will. I might through sheer exhaustion, but my brain hasn’t got a lot of nice material to draw on when it comes to providing me with slumbering entertainment.