Both Jan and I worked as teachers until Jan was stricken. Jan retired out of necessity and I also retired two years later. Jan taught English and I was a math and computer programming instructor. We met at work and were married a year after we met. We drove to and from work all those years. We have two children Josh, age 19 and Lara, age 15. We were both brought up in strongly religious homes, I think this fact helped us to cope with what has happened to our family.
Our experience began in Feb of 1992. I was to take my mom to see her doctor, about a 40 mile trip. When I got to her place, she said that she did not feel well enough to make the trip. I went home and Josh (12 yr old son at the time) told me to call school (both my wife and I taught at the same school).
When I called, they told me that Jan had been taken to the hospital. When I got to hospital, the doctors told me that the only way to save her life was to perform brain surgery. They needed my consent and I gave it to them. Even with the surgery they gave me only 50 % chance of saving her life. I stayed with her as long as possible but eventually I had to go home and tell the kids. They were very upset as I related the story. My daughter Lara (9 yrs. old) was very close to Jan and was crying as I told them the possibilities.
Fortunately the surgery went well and her three bleeds were clipped. She was able to get out of hospital within 30 days. Shortly after that she could drive and most of her freedoms were restored. She had a good Psychiatrist ( although I myself despised the guy) and was able to return to mostly "normal" functioning within a few months.
When Josh lost his soccer coach, Jan went to coaching clinics until she was "qualified" to coach the team ( I was the equipment manager ). Then just before a big tournament, Jan was stricken again. She was in bed at home, she awoke me and said that she had a bad headache. I knew what was coming. One of the three clips failed and they had again to perform brain surgery.
This time she was unconscious for ten days, during which time they performed the surgery. When she came out of it, she barely knew who I was using both my names when I asked her if she recognized me. Every day when I visited, I brought family pictures and easy puzzles for her to solve.
This time she was placed in a rehab hospital for 40 days. She was in hospital 30 days. After a few weeks she was able to come home with us on weekends. She did not walk well. She favored one side. Her favorite cat Noah would run away from her when she entered a room. She needed to be reminded about bathroom function. She did not eat well. The children would not warm up to her at all. She lost memories. She couldn't concentrate on any tasks. At times when she got angry she would chase the children around the house with kitchen knives.
Today the kids are both in therapy, not understanding why this is happening to them. We all go to family counseling weekly. My son, Josh, is a senior and is not attending classes. He has been out of school for 40 days. He has been accepted by a few colleges but I keep telling him he cannot go to college unless he finishes HS. My daughter, Lara, has returned to school today after being out 40+ days. She'll be able to graduate if she continues to go to school.
Additionally, my mother came to live with us after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, anemia and a mild heart attack. I had to care for her and eventually watching her fade from her aliments and the fact that Jan was the way she was and that I could only pay the children so much attention the children began staying home from school.
My dad just wrote one of these, but I feel as though I should write one, too. If you read the one my dad (Frank Toth) wrote, you should probably know the story about my mom. I'd just like to write about how it affected me.
The first time, it happened while she was driving home from work. She told me that she felt something like an egg cracking over her head and the insides of it just covering her head. She knew something was wrong, so she went back into the school building and went to the nurse. I came home from school that day, and I was pretty happy, but my when I went upstairs, Josh (my brother) said that Mom was in the hospital. I didn't believe him at first, but then, I don't know...someone called and I started to cry.
I went to visit her in the hospital every chance I got. She didn't even remember who I was. That screwed me up bad. When she did eventually come home, I remember that she couldn't walk very well, and she had to sleep downstairs, because she couldn't get up the steps. Eventually, and gradually, she got better. She acted like a mother.
Then in '94, it happened again. This time, it happened late at night. I was sleeping, and my brother knocked on my door. He took me into his room. I heard noise from Mom and Dad's room, and I wondered what was going on. Josh wouldn't let me leave the room. He just said, "It happened again." I knew what he meant. I started to bawl. I cried for hours. I snuck in to see what was going on, and I saw my mom lying on the bed, almost unconscious. I ran back into my brother's room, and cried again. When they took her to the hospital, my dad's friends Paula and Ernie came over to watch me and my brother while he was at the hospital with Mom. I remember just crying myself to sleep.
She never fully recovered from the second aneurysm. It hurts me to see her like this. She doesn't think I'm really her daughter, and she says she hates me for no reason. And (if you read my dad's story), yes, she did chase me around with knives. She only cut me one time, but that's still too much. I've been depressed for the past three years, a lot of the time wanting to kill myself. I stayed out of school for about two months, and got therapy. I now know that I don't want to kill myself, and I want to help my mom as much as I can.
My heart goes out to everyone else that had to deal with this. I know it's not easy to cope with, but if you just keep loving the person, they'll get better. I'm overjoyed that she's survived this long, but I still miss my mother.