DeKalb County Life for April 6, 2018: Good Fridays not so ‘good’ for us

Good Fridays not so ‘good’ for us

My wife Kay in the ER at the Galena Medical Center last Friday awaiting test results. (Schrader photo)

By Barry Schrader, columnist, Daily Chronicle April 6, 2018
     A year ago on Good Friday my wife, Kay, suffered a massive stroke while we were visiting friends John and Chris Oltman in New Glarus, Wisconsin. 
     She was taken to the University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison and treated there, then transferred to Marianjoy Hospital in Wheaton. After that, she spent 10 months recovering in the nursing facility at Oak Crest DeKalb Area Retirement Center where we live. One month ago, she came back home.
     So this year on Good Friday, we decided to celebrate her first anniversary as a stroke survivor, and guess what happened? She ended up in the emergency room at the Galena Medical Center. We had gone to the Eagle Ridge Resort for a three-day respite with our younger son, Darrin, who was with us one year ago, as well. This time it was much less serious, but nonetheless unnerving.
     She had a bladder infection that caused delirium, and she couldn’t even tell the ER nurse where she was or where she lives. After an exam by the physician on duty, a urine sample, then an hour wait, it was determined what was causing her erratic behavior. By the next day the antibiotics had taken effect and she felt well enough to return to our home in DeKalb. By Easter Sunday, she went to church, ate Easter dinner with family, and continues to enjoy the visit by our son.
      Since she has come back home, I have learned what life is like being a full-time caregiver. The “new normal” keeps us both busy working on her rehabilitation as she continues her struggle with speech recovery and memory loss. But the progress is evident, and her happiness at being back in familiar surroundings is a joy to behold each day.
     Getting back to the ER visit, I had written a column a year ago about what you should have with you at all times, traveling or just around the area. Did I take my own advice and keep it a year later? Well, almost. We did have: a list of medications and extra doses in case we were away longer than expected from home; a list of known allergies and meds to be avoided; insurance cards, names and phone numbers of our doctors; a medical directive; power of attorney. But we did not have a photo ID or driver’s license and Social Security number. I had put away her driver’s license and Social Security card for safekeeping.
     In her confused state, caused by the UTI, she did not know her number, nor did I. The ER admitting clerk was very understanding and asked that we phone the information to the clinic when we got home. So now I have photocopied the two cards and will add them to our travel package. I probably should have taken photos of all the documents and stored them on my smartphone.
     So I repeat this advice to everyone who travels, even a hundred miles for a day trip: be prepared.
     Next year on Good Friday, I think we will stay home, relax with family and maybe have a cookout in the backyard. But then again, what if the grill catches fire or the food is not cooked well enough?

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