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My Husband Had A Stroke… you can’t teach an old dog new tricks

He woke up at 4:45 A.M., screaming.

I jumped out of bed and asked in a panic, “What’s wrong?!”

He screamed again.

“Honey, what’s wrong?! Are you in pain?” I was thinking heart attack.

“Nooo!” he said, dragging out that little word.

I noticed he was sweating, but not profusely. I put my ear to his chest thinking I’d hear an erratic heartbeat – nope, seemed normal to my uneducated ear. My thoughts of a heart attacked lessened.

Again I asked if he was in pain.

Holding his head, he said, “I’m diz-zy. I can’t take it.”

That’s when I knew what it was – vertigo.

I’ve had vertigo once – never ever want to go through that again, but it doesn’t make you react the way Husband did. You may wake up, saying “whoa” or “what the fuck?!” but no screaming – at least from my experience anyway. So, why was he crying out like that?

He and I went to the main campus of Penn State University because of Family and Friends Weekend. We stopped at the Hampton Inn first then picked up the College Kid (CK) after her last class which was around 5:00 P.M. We swooped her up to stay with us overnight on Friday evening.

Back to Saturday morning when the scream happened.

The CK and I tried to get him up because he needed to pee. The bathroom was only a few feet away yet he couldn’t even attempt the try. In whatever he was going through, he did manage to squirm from a normal sleeping position from head of bed to foot, to laying across it. I encouraged him to calm down and let him know he was going through a temporary case of vertigo, but he was acting like a man baby – not hearing me at all.

I told him we have to call 911. “No!” he shouted. I was ready to slap him. Clearly, he was in a state of panic and in need of medical attention, yet he did not want help – like what were we supposed to do without emergency care? I knew one thing though – he was not gonna die on my watch – that’s for sure.

The CK said, “Dad, we have to call just in case something is wrong that we don’t know about. ” Man, how those words turned out to be so true.

While she kept her eye on him, I went down to the front desk and told Brandon (receptionist) about our situation. I could have called from my cell phone, but I wanted my face seen, and I wanted my husband’s name known other than just being a guest. Brandon called 911 and I gave him Husband’s name, my name, my cell number, and our room number for the paramedics.

I got back to the room where Husband was still writhing on the bed – eyes closed, holding his head, and very afraid. I dabbed him with a towel and before you knew it, the EMTs were knocking on room door 410 (for all you number playing folks).

They asked all the standard questions. When they asked for his medications, I gave a note with that particular information. I received a nod of approval for having it ready. Important lesson to everyone – know and readily have medical information handy.

Evangelical Community Hospital was only a four minute drive (if that) from the hotel.

We arrived at the E.R. where he was already being worked on. He had the sticky things all over his upper body, and he was still complaining about going to the bathroom. He was not allowed to stand – even with help, and he wasn’t allowed to relieve himself until after he had a CAT scan and then spoke with the doctor on call. Nurse Julie brought in a cart with a monitor attached. “What’s that for?” I asked. Well, apparently, that was for the doctor who would do the evaluation even though he was not in the facility.

After he was evaluated, he was given a container to  relieve himself. That didn’t work because he was not in a standing position and it was not practical. He was about to go, but not the way he’d hoped – poor thing was about to be introduced to a total invasion of privacy. Nurse Julie announced she would have to catheterize husband, and lifted his gown. At that point, the CK couldn’t get out of the room fast enough. “Ut, I don’t wanna see that; time for me to go!” The nurse and I chuckled then she went to work. I saw a rubber tube inserted into Husband’s penis that went in his bladder. Poor thing. His vocals were very different this time; more like a manly kind of grunt, showing all teeth as opposed to screaming like he wasn’t in control of his own body.  I felt bad for him and thought he would squeeze the life from my hand. There he was – room already spinning and now experiencing a foreign object going into his most manly part. However, he was instantly calmed as the liquid left his body. I’m being very graphic because these are all real things that one will go through. You need to be prepared.

After the ER, he was admitted to ICU (and stayed there for 2 days), which scared me, but it was explained that he had a minor stroke. This was determined after numerous tests, CAT scans, and a MRI. The doctor said it occurred in the cerebellum part of the brain, which controls equilibrium hence the aggressive case of vertigo (Bam! Just as I thought!). I asked the doc why did he get so emotional? He was upset and blaming himself for “messing up” our weekend. What’s wrong with him? I thought it was because he thought he was going to die (and I’m not ruling that out either), but whenever someone asked about his welfare, he’d just break into tears, which explains the emotional part of the brain. Deep.

Upon further explanation, it stunned me to find out this was not his first mini stroke – he’s had several! As the doctor spoke to me, in hindsight two signs were visible. I noticed a couple of months ago that he was holding his mouth in an abnormal way. I thought maybe his mouth/teeth were bothering him. When I questioned him, he shrugged it off. I never considered  a stroke and left it alone because his mouth eventually went back to normal.

Another time I noticed him stumbling (equilibrium was off), and I asked, “Why are you walking like that?” He said he was “just tired.” Both signs of mini strokes I missed. When you normally think of strokes, you think of the debilitating ones that leaves your face distorted and one side of your body useless – unless you are in the medical field or had it happen to you or someone you know then you could pick up on it right away. In my case, I was alert enough to notice a difference in his body, but not relate it to stroke symptoms.

So, for three days, Husband was fed through IV, and barely opened his eyes because of the vertigo. He was given medicine for nausea (because of dizziness) and to slow down the vertigo. It was only on Tuesday that he was able to open his eyes for long periods of time – thanks to medication. When I asked why he screamed the morning of, he said he thought he was falling. Imagine you wake from sleep, on your way to bathroom when all of a sudden you begin to fall and never land…. I think I would scream too.

During his four day stay, he was eventually able to keep his eyes open on day three and hold a complete conversation, sit up, eat solid food and walk to the bathroom with assistance of a walker. According to the doctors and nurses I spoke to, they all said the same thing about men not being able to handle illness, and I know mine did not handle this well. He’s never been hospitalized so this was a major blow to him. The staff was even impressed that, he at age 62, had never been hospitalized.

To keep this from happening again, he now has to swallow an aspirin every day of his life to help prevent blood clots. He is now prone to having another stroke if he does not stop smoking, which is “non-negotiable” according to Dr. Weber. Other contributing factors are: dangerous cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, stress, wife named Tillie….

Now, I’m not in the medical field at all, I’m just a simple chic from the ‘hood who enjoys sharing her God given gift of writing to inform and educate. This story is to make you all aware of how important it is to pay close attention to yourself and your loved ones – especially the ones you live with and look at on a daily basis. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you notice something that’s not quite right, take action. Each second wasted is the loss of blood cells – if we hadn’t called the ambulance when we did, Husband would have lost vital blood cells and could have died or had a severe stroke. Now that I have told you how I missed the signs, you have no excuse. I’m giving you what I missed – a twisted mouth, a loss of balance here and there when nothing is in the way. If you suspect something (and this may sound corny, but it’s a sure sign), tell them to repeat “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, ask who the president of the USA is, tell them to smile, and if that smile is crooked, get to the Emergency Room right away – don’t let them tell you what they don’t want to do – you be the decision maker and save their life because a panicky person cannot make rational decisions.

I’m a firm believer that prayer in numbers work. We thank everyone (and there were lots of you) who were genuinely concerned and prayed for Husband’s health and our safe traveling mercies back home. You showed this through phone calls, text messages, and visits – one of Husband’s friends drove the 3 hours from Philly with his girlfriend, just to see about him, which was quite touching. We are very fortunate to have such caring people in our lives.

Once the CK was returned to her dorm that same weekend, and I went back to the hotel room alone, I realized that I could have lost my husband. I looked around the room at his things and thanked God I didn’t have to go home without him.

A week later, Husband is progressing well. He uses a cane now, but still does everything he did before just on a slower basis. Doctors said he should recover completely and he appears to be on his way. A lot of tears were shed during this time.

This stroke stuff ain’t no joke, y’all and I’m telling you because we just lived through it. And if you don’t pay attention after reading this – you’re a fool.

Psalm 30:2 Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me.

Thanks for readin’ my writin’ y’all.





About T. Anthony-Horton

If you know me, you are very much aware of how I truly enjoy writing - because after all - it is my thang. If you are unfamiliar with me, welcome to my wonderful word of me. I have one book published, "Office Antics & Sexual Liaisons", and I am actively working on the sequel. I humbly appreciate all who have purchased and read my 1st creation (even if you read it without purchasing, you have entered my mind and got a sense of my writing style). I always welcome all feedback; positive, negative, indifferent - doesn't matter - makes me a better and more conscientious writer - all I ask is that you not be disrespectful. I can be sarcastic, comical, sensitive, informative, and overly descriptive (lol) as I've been told. I'm cool with all that, and to those who are not into my style of prose, I get that too. I still have two other books in my head that should've been on paper a long time ago - what?! - I do have a life y'all! So stay tuned for the sequel, which is tentatively titled, "After the Antics". In the meantime, continue to follow my blog and tell someone about it. I love you for readin' my writin'. Peace!

48 responses »

  1. Selma Alston Bronson

    Hi Tillie,

    I was really surprised to hear that Mr. Wayne had had a stroke, the man that never gets sick. I know about that vertigo I had an episode while driving all I wanted to do was get to my mom’s house and I’d be fine, of course I had to pull over and call somebody. So I laughed and teared up when I read your blog about Wayne. God works in mysterious ways I was glad it was in the hotel room and not while driving. You’re right we need to know our bodies and signs of things that are not and tell someone or take a seat and think did this just happen or am I imaging that it happened.

  2. Tillie,.
    It was so good to see this article. I’m putting a few of those symptoms on my list when I visit my doctor next month. So glad to here your husband is on the mend. I pray he is no longer get smoking.
    CK!, CK!! Has it really been that long? Congratulations to you and the CK. I wish here continued success.
    I’m in NOLA for 2017 (working as her Nanny), got a new granddaughter last December. I miss the North, and will resume my snowbird status this December, and hopefully will just be a regular GM.
    Missing the good people, not the job.
    Lydia Lee

    • T. Anthony-Horton

      Hi Lydia! Wow, it’s great to hear from you! Congrats on the new grandbaby! Hopefully, we hook up when you come back. Yes, it’s been that long – CK! Got me a young adult now 🙂 Thank you for responding, and please take what you can from the article.

  3. Omg, soo sorry to hear this. I thank God he is progressing. It is getting late now, but we must talk tomorrow. Need to share some things with you. God bless you both will call you tomorrow 😘

  4. Your husband is bless to have you at his side! A stroke is nothing but body language! Over 60 percent of communication is none verbal. We have to pay attention! May God continue to bless him in his recovery.

  5. It is a blessing you have the ability to share your story and experience in the hopes that it will shed light on a health issue. I know I am being more conscious of how I’m feeling and what my body is going through along with having more discussions with my husband about his health and well being. I pray that God continues to bless you both and that hubbie is up and running again….much love!

    • Yes, indeed, girlfriend. I’ve gotten so many positive response – and from men – that I feel my mission was met. Thanks for responding and take care of that brand new husband of yours. Love you much!

  6. Laverne Washington

    Praise God for your husband’s recovery.

  7. Laverne Washington

    Thank God you acted as quickly as you did, could have been a lot worse. You are so right, we have to pay attention to our loved ones. It had a minor stroke and I didn’t know it. My brother noticed my slurred speech when he “just happened” to call me. He said pack a bag Sis, I’m on my way to take you to the hospital.

  8. Very powerful writing, it’s amazing how much we take for granted. Glad Wayne is doing better and on the road to recovery. Glad you were there when this happened for support and guidance. Keeping you both in my thoughts.

  9. I’m soooooo sorry to hear about Wayne! Praise the Lord you got him taken to the hospital right away and he is now on the road to recovery. To God be the glory!!!

    My mom had a mini stroke 8-9 years ago. And the only reason I rushed her to the hospital without overlooking/dismissing her symptoms is because several years prior, one of my clients had a stroke and told me how to recognize if someone is having a stroke. So, I said all that to say… thank you for sharing what happened with Wayne. You quite possibly may be helping to save someone else’s life. 😉

    • Hey Practical Chick! Thank you for readin’ and respondin’. It is always my prayer, hope, goal to reach someone, and as it turns out, I always do. The response from this article has been overwhelming! One of my friends said she had to sit up in bed, hug her husband and tell him that she loved him. I’m satisfied when I hear, “thank you for writing that.” And good for you for paying attention to your mother all those years ago.

  10. TA I know this reality. It happened to me. Just like that. Memorial Day weekend 2013. Mostly recovered. Still not the same. However, more aware of the vitals. Been blessed by the best. God is good all the time.

  11. Geez MaTil,
    That’s a scary story. I’m so glad to hear that Wayne is on the mend!
    How are you doing, and how is Nirvana, other than this episode , enjoying her college experience?

    • The CK has adjusted very well in all areas. She’s PSU through& through, going to FB and hockey games. I don’t know how I am, really. I’ll find out eventually. Glad to hear from you Slickster- don’t be a stranger.

  12. Hey TillieTo God be the Glory. I

  13. Anthony Highsmith

    I hope your husband recovers quickly,thanks for the education,GOD Bless you and your Family

  14. So glad it was caught in time. Prayers for speedy recovery

  15. Tillie, I’m sorry to hear that your husband, Wayne, suffered a stroke, but glad to hear that it was not as bad as they could be, and that he’s getting better.

    Having gone through the experience of a spousal stroke myself, a decade ago, and which caused me to retire early, I understand. The stark terror, confusion, adrenaline rush, weight of quick decision making, and being calm under that type of pressure is astounding. I still rewind the experience from time to time to examine the steps I took, and wonder whether I could have done something different.

    I’ve never divulged/discussed my experience with anyone, but I doubt I could have done as skillful a job as you just did. I wish you, Wayne, Nirvana, and the rest if your family the best, and that Wayne’s recovery is full and complete.

    Your Friend,

    • Thanks, Leon. I vaguely remember when we worked together your story. I’m glad I didn’t have to make the same decision you did for the same reason. I doubt you could have done anything differently other than getting your wife medical attention. Timing is key and they made sure to tell us we got him there in good time. And, as far as how I delivered the message – please…you make sure I always have to use a dictionary after reading your posts…lol.

  16. Hey, Tillie glad all seems to be moving forward well and the outcome was no worse. We have been dealing with the issue of stroke with one of my sisters for over 3 years. She currently in rehab for the 5th time. Course, no one told us what was going on the vine still functions though.
    Wish we had talked about that. I am always saying to folks call your doctor, inform him or her of just what is going on, stroke does not always show the way you think it will. Anyway. good thoughts sent. Be alert for subtle changes. Strength to you and CK, hoe all will be well.

  17. Didn’t mean to call you Willie, Tillie.

  18. Willie, I am just reading this post and I am so glad that your husband is recovering. I am praying unceasingly for a total wholeness in health and strength for your husband and sending my love to you and your family. I will call you tomorrow.
    Ĺove you,
    Linda Baxter

  19. Had tears in my eyes reading this.It bring back memories when my husband went through this last year in Nov.Husband was at work got call they rushed hubby to hospital. I’m scared buses on strike had to catch a cab to hospital they treated him for be dizzy(vertigo) was getting ready to discharge him when he said I’m still feeling dizzy I guess when he sat up the medicine had him feeling fine as long as he was laying down .so they decided to keep him for observation but when they got him on the floor the nurse looked at him and said you don’t need to be here you need to be admitted as so I guess in that little time he had a mini stroke next thing I knew Dr was coming from every where. heart Dr brain Dr and you name it they was in his room.Scary me all I good is pray .and remembered just two or three days before this he fainted in the house and refused to go to the hospital yes I called ambulance he wouldn’t go to hospital. Had me scared all night they told him he can go to sleep and don’t wake up he still refused to go…..Tilda girl I no the scare you felt .Glad your hubby is recovering.

    • Wow, Sheila.I know you’ve been through a lot, but I’m not sure if I knew about that incident. It’s eerily similar and brings my point to light that a lot of our men are not willing to seek medical help even during a life or death situation. I still don’t understand the stubbornness or stupidity. It literally makes me shake my head. I hope all is well with your husband now. Thanks for responding, my friend.

  20. Tillie,
    Thank you for sharing that very frightening and highly personal experience in detail. I will now be more aware for loved ones and myself. Hugs and prayers for you, your Husband and the CK.

  21. I thank you for sharing and giving such a detailed account of want has happened to your husband and these are signs that are missed, dismissed and overlooked all the time. It is good to hear your husband is on the road to recovery. I will keep him , you and CK in prayer. God is a healer and can do anything but fail.. Praising God in advance for the praise report and further update you will give.Thanks again for the knowledge you share and give through your gift of writing ..

  22. Tillie, thank you for sharing your story. So glad to hear that Husband is on his way to a full recovery and I will continue to pray for your family.

  23. Thank God you were there with him… 🙏🏾

  24. Wow! Thank you so much for this honest and detailed report of a terrifying experience! Loving your CK the way I do made it even tougher to read. My husband has had a couple of min-strokes we did not notice, but I’m telling you every word you wrote is emblazoned in my memory moving forward. I’m so happy your sweet hubby is home safe. Holding all of you close tonight.

    • Thanks so much for responding, Kelli. The CK loves you and will be happy to know we are still in contact. I hope your school year is going well, and I hope you and your hubby are doing well too. And please send me the IB info for the parent survey. I’ll be happy to fill it out.


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