A Father's Perspective

Post On Thursday, December 18, 2014 By Anthony

A Father's Perspective
Ella was born prematurely on 6/5/09.  Due to her premature status she was required to stay in the Good Samaritan Hospital NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) in Downer's Grove, IL.  4 days after Ella was born my wife Erin was having what we thought was a migraine headache (she has had them before).  I woke up earlier then her that morning and went out into the living room.  A few hours later I heard moaning coming from the bedroom.  I went into the bedroom to see what was going.  I found Erin in the bed with her eyes open moaning.  She was unresponsive when I spoke to her and seemed to not be able to get out of bed.  I tried to speak with her and uncover what was going on and realized something was wrong.  I called 911.  It was determined that she suffered a stroke.  The decision was made to transfer her to the NICU (Neurological Intensive Care Unit) at Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, IL.  
Once in the hospital proper tests were taken and the information was passed on to me.  I was told Erin suffered a hemorrhagic stroke.  I was also told there was a 72 hour "waiting" period we had to sit and hope during.  During the period we had to hope the bleed in her brain did not increase and preferably decreased.  If the bleeding did not halt or subside brain surgery would have been required to prevent the lesser of 2 evils.  Thankfully the bleeding stopped and subsided to a degree.  Brain surgery would have prevented death but would have taken an even more serious toll on Erin's ability and quality of life.
The early stages were quite tough for 2 weeks, every day, I was sleeping in CDH or Marian Joy Rehabilitation Facility around the corner (after Erin was transferred).  During the time Ella was still in the OTHER NICU.  Everyday I would drive back and forth from hospital to hospital or from hospital to rehab facility to visit my girls.  To make things more difficult my long term and short term disability coverage at work would not cover me for spousal disability.  I needed to take an unpaid leave of absence.   Illinois law allowed 90 days without recourse from my employer under the circumstances.  
These 90 days were a close second in difficulty after the first 2 weeks.  Once Ella was out of the NICU I took here home with me.  Since Erin was still in the rehab hospital I needed assistance to take care of Ella, sleep, and visit Erin.  I bounced around between my house, my parents house, and my in-laws.  Staying at each place for an extended period of time getting above and beyond assistance normally handled by the parents (late night feedings, crying, poops, etc).  After the 7 weeks Erin spent at Marian Joy things got a bit easier as far as travel goes but had there difficulties.   I modified the house for Erin's return, support in the bathroom, assistance tools, wheelchair ready, etc.  I also needed and had help on a daily basis from family and friends.  Our great friends and family provided in person assistance, meals, and a tremendous amount of financial assistance (via a fundraiser) since I was not get paid on my leave.  We would not have been able to get past the first 3 months without the help of family and friends.
During the first 3 months, and since, Erin has worked via outpatient therapy, home therapy, and everyday living to get back what she lost. Her hard work and the continued support of family and friends had continued to make a difficult situation better.  I am now back to work and Erin runs the day to day household things and takes care of Ella, far beyond not being able to speak and walk day 1.  Although, difficulties still present themselves from time to time we work on modifying our daily lives to get around the difficulties.  Erin continues to work on a daily basis to get back to where she wants.  She is driving, riding horses, and even cooking good meals (pre-stroke Erin couldn't make a frozen pizza!) and all with 1 hand.  Although, we have had a more difficult path than most, Erin's hard work and the support of family and friends have got us through it, and the payoff is a happy and healthy Ella and family and Erin continuing to get better everyday.
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