DeKalb County Life for April 24, 2017: When you hit a brick wall in life

Note to readers: Since Kay suffered a major stroke last week and my time will be spent with her both in the hospital and then at home, I have asked the other columnists with DeKalb County Life to let us take a break from blogging. I will still update friends on Facebook plus private emails. Below is a slightly updated version of my column in the Daily Chronicle that ran Friday. The photo of Kay and our two sons I took on Thursday, so was too late to include in the paper.

Thanks, Barry Schrader, editor of DeKalb County Life Online.

(Column reprinted from Daily Chronicle April 21, 2017)

When you hit a brick wall in life

Kay Schrader in her hospital bed at Marion Joy with sons Todd, left, and Darrin with her. (Photo by Barry Schrader)

It was 8 a.m. Friday when we’re sitting down to breakfast at a hotel in New Glarus where we were meeting Kay’s Sycamore High School classmate John Oltman and his wife Chris.

   As we sat down, Kay fell over sideways and as I grabbed her to put her back into the chair I sensed something was seriously wrong. She was mumbling. Chris, being a retired nurse, immediately said “stroke” and I went to the front desk to call 911. Five minutes later a police officer arrived to offer first aid and the New Glarus Rescue Squad arrived in about 10 minutes.

  Chris suggested instead of the local hospital we take her directly to the University of Wisconsin hospital, which has a specialty team for dealing with strokes. This was a wise move since the “golden hour” is critical in treating a person early on. When the ambulance arrived at the hospital the stroke team was already on notice and rushed her into the ER for a CT scan. Minutes later they told me the bad news. There was a blood clot in the brain and a clot-busting drug would be tried.

Another scan showed that surgery using a thin wire inserted in the groin going up into the brain was advisable, a fairly new technique but proven effective, so I signed the necessary papers as she was rushed into surgery.

The clot broke into two pieces when they were drawing it out and one went into the area where speech and comprehension are affected. Something called “aphasia,” they told me. They managed to remove the second one as well but the damage was considerable.

  Her right side had been paralyzed as well as the ability to swallow, but as I write this three days later she has regained the use of her right side and can swallow again. But her speech and comprehension are impaired for now.

  By the time you read this she will already have been transferred to Marion Joy Hospital in Wheaton, IL, an acute stroke rehab hospital closer to home, and the long road back to recovery will begin for both of us.

It is too early to know the outcome but I learned some lessons to be better prepared when away from home: Always have a list of medicines in your billfold or purse and know your spouse’s special dietary needs or allergies; carry your insurance cards, names of your doctor(s), pharmacy, and important family and close friends’ phone numbers and emails. Even a signed medical directive should be taken on trips. With smartphones, storing this information should be easy, but many of us don’t take the time to enter that vital data.

In my next column I hope to share more about strokes and our situation.

  A correction from last week: The full name of the founder of Network of Nations is Ruth O’Donnell.

 (The columnist can be contacted through P.O. Box 851, DeKalb, IL 60115 or via email at Past columns can be found at



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