My father had a stroke last month. It was just 5 days before my wedding. It was so severe it almost killed him and the only reason he is even here is because his co-workers recognized the signs. My father has always been a superhero to me. He was always larger than life. A natural athlete who regularly exercised well into his fifties. A police officer for almost 30 years. Charismatic in a way nobody I ever met has been, and certainly was not passed on to me. He was always the person I went to for advise or wisdom.
I was shocked when I found out at just 58 he'd had a stroke. It has effected multiple areas of his brain. It was bi-thalmic and also a clot flicked into part of his cerebral cortex. He has virtually no short term memory, he thinks things he dreams or sees on t.v have happened and he has a lot of trouble staying awake. He thought I was just 18 when he woke up. I am 26. He forgot I was engaged and moved out. Our dog is blind and has had her eyes removed. He didn't recall this and got that unpleasent surprise upon arriving home from the hospital last night. She is his baby.
He had been at the hospital and rehab for 24 days straight. He has lost motivation to almost everything and my mom is really struggling. I am trying to help but not living at home has made this difficult. This once independent-self sufficient man gives push back for small tasks in physical therapy. The day before his stroke he walked 4 miles. I hate to say this and I don't mean it in callous way, but he's virtually the opposite of my dad. He doesn't feel like my dad. He doesn't sound like my dad. He doesn't act like my dad. I am crying as I type that. Because it's a solid truth that is just killing me. I have no reason to lie to myself. I won't say this aloud to anyone but my fiance' but the stroke has made him so different. I feel like I lost my father. I look at old photos of him and just fall into hystierics. I feel like he's lost and I just want to ask the old him what to do.
Needless to say we cancelled the wedding. It was a destination wedding to Florida. Many people had booked hotels, flights etc...and they were nonrefundable. They went down anyway, and I don't fault them for that though the illogical part of me was furious, espeically when the droves of Facebook pictures went up. Now trying get people to go back down for a second try seems impossible. Nearly everyone on my fiance's side has decided they cannot come. The venue is paid for and we cannot get a refund. He is devestated. His own brother won't try to make the trip a second time. Admittedly, it is a lot to ask but "I wouldn't miss my brother's wedding for anything" was a verbatim quote his brother used before this happened. I tend to take people at their word. Words aren't worth anything anymore. My fiance's other two brothers have died. So this is a particularly hard pill to swallow.
The last phone conversation I had with my dad before the stroke he played the song we were going to dance to at my wedding. He heard it on the radio and was so excited that he called me and played it. This memory just runs over and over in my head, as I sit with my dad now who isn't even aware that we missed the wedding. He thinks we are planning it the first time, and I refuse to remind him because I know even if he isn't acting himself this would hurt him.
I feel so lost. I am tired of speaking to long lost relative popping out of the woodwork to share their temporary pity and be apart of the dramatics. Bringing up the deaths of family members long dead, where my dad has to learn all over again his mom is dead. Gotta love the appropriate bed side manners of my uncles. My mom is exhausted, and although she isn't saying it I know she is afraid that she has lost her best friend as she knew him forever. They've been together since she was 16. She's strong and willing to accept is this is the new norm, but I just bleed for her.
I barely sleep anymore. I am not coping well. Tonight I was up from 12:30pm and and day is breaking outside. I am greiving. Begging someone for a guarantee my dad isn't gone forever, which nobody can. People keep telling me they can understand what I am going through. I just get resentful because how can anyone understand this particular fucking Twilight Zone situation?! People are being awful about the wedding and the stroke. Quotes like, "Have you gotten over your wedding? Why can't you just have it here? Do you think he will ever be normal again? What if he stays like this?" are thrown around regularly by my idiotic extended family. I regularly wake up with panic attacks so severe I am hysterical and shaking. My fiance is growing accustomed to coming home seeing me slumped over somewhere just shaking and weeping. When I am not doing that, I am with my dad hovering trying searching for any sense of who he was coming back. Trying to reassure myself he's there. Frustrated out of my mind because I know there's nothing we can do. Enraged I am so angry about all of it and have nowhere to direct it. Guilty because I feel like this stranger is not my dad. Please give me anything you can right now. Just talk. Stories about other people with strokes. Reassurances that I am not a huge piece of crap for feeling this way. Anything.