My name is Jo. I am the youngest of three daughters born to Walter(Wally) and Inez Leffel. We always thought our family was very healthy. We never had any major surgeries or illnesses when I was growing up. We did have the normal mumps, measles, etc. but nothing earth shattering.
My dad started having headaches, nothing substantial, when he was in his late 40's but x-rays just showed some little spots about the size of a pea and the doctors thought nothing about them. They just told him to take aspirin. It was completely dropped at that time.
I was the first to have serious problems. I was diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy, secondary to AVM in 1982. Then my mom started drinking, which was out of the norm. She NEVER drank when we were growing up. Later it was found that she was hooked on diet pills and the doctor took her off, so she started drinking. As a result of this she became an alcoholic and died from Septic Shock in 1987, at the age of 64. Too early!
My dad always loved northern Wisconsin because of the wildlife and beauty. We always knew he would wind up there some day. About two years after mom died he bought a brand new trailer and his brother gave him 15 acres to put it on. It was beautiful! In the mean time my older sister, Lynn, was diagnosed with an aneurysm in her brain. She was operated on successfully and is doing quite well, considering what she went through.
My dad started with health problems and had to have surgery for a growth on his kidney. While doing all the tests before surgery they found out he had an aortic aneurysm. It could not be operated on because of the kidney. They didn't feel his body could take it. They did the kidney surgery and he did just great. He went home to heal for about six weeks and went back to the doctor and lo and behold they did an angiogram and found out he needed six bypasses on his heart. What a mess.
At this time my sister Lynn is living in Colorado, my sister Ann is in California and I'm left in Wisconsin alone to handle all this. My dad had his surgery 50 miles away from my home so I traveled every day. I am also feeling worse and having headaches like you wouldn't believe.(I don't know how I did it). He had the heart surgery(the aneurysm held up, thank god) and he came out of the surgery only to find out he had had a stroke.
He wasn't really incapacitated like some people but he did have to go into a nursing home for 3 months. Thank heavens I got him in one in Green Bay, where I live, so I could see him regularly. When he was able to, he came to my home for recuperation and then back up to his home in northern Wisconsin. In the meantime, my dad's niece, my cousin, was diagnosed with a cluster aneurysm at the base of her brain. She still has been considered inoperable but is doing fine on medication.
It was Christmas time and dad was all alone, up north, and I wanted him to come down to Green Bay to stay for the holidays. He got very belligerent with me and said NO I want to be in my own home. He hated leaving home because he loved it up there so much. I called him on Christmas day and he was so happy. He knew he had to make arrangements for his aneurysm surgery after the first of the year so I think that is why he wanted to stay home as long as he could. I then told him I would call him New Years day to wish him a happy new year and he had a hissy fit. He told me not to worry about him and to "get a life".
My two sisters and I all called him and he didn't answer so I figured he was with his Shriner buddies (he was a Shrine clown). I called again the next day and no answer. I called his brother and he said he had tried calling too but no answer either. I then called the police department in Park Falls and asked if they would check on him ( I live 250 miles southeast of him). They called me back and said he was found laying in his chair with the TV on and in his pajamas. He must have gone peacefully because his arms were folded in his lap.
When I got the news I just kept saying, "he died all alone". You see, I was with my mom when she died and I had a hard time dealing with the fact that dad had no one with him. This happened on January 3, 1995, and I still have a hard time with it.
Needless to say, I worry about my two daughters and my two granddaughters and this aneurysm stuff running in our family. You see, what my dad died from was the aortic aneurysm burst and they also found out the spots in his brain were all little aneurysms. That means my dad, my sister, my cousin and myself are all blessed beyond belief.
I'm very sorry for rambling on but maybe this will inform some people that don't understand or may question whether this really does run in some families.
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