One Friday, a couple of months ago, I booked a commercial which shot in New York.
WOOHOO! Nothing better than being paid to travel. And it's a commercial which should air a lot, fingers crossed. And they take really good care of you on these jobs - first class travel, a meaty per diem, nice hotel, ground transportation. I was rather excited. I could see my girlfriend Lannyl, take in a museum all by myself, go out to dinner with Aunt Grace. JUST what I needed, in every way!
My only concern was...
I have two volunteer jobs at Jude's school.
- I am co-chair of the Booster Club. We fund-raise for the Athletics Department by running/stocking/staffing the snack bar in the gym during any home games. It's far more work than you'd guess. And I am completely obsessed with it. I actually have anxiety dreams that we've run out of the blue Gatorades, or that nobody bought the seaweed snacks which I insisted on getting as a "healthful alternative".
- Bingo Night. One night a year. I get the equipment, set it up, organize the games and prizes, and run the show.
I was supposed to leave for New York on Wednesday and return on Saturday. During those four days, I had three home games in the gym and...Bingo Night.
Great. So I went into high gear to get myself covered. Not easy. But I could do it if I got super organized and delegated efficiently.
Then on Saturday morning...
Jude and I got home from his 7 to 9 am swim practice (oh yes, that happens every week...) just as Jimmy was about to leave to drive to Beverly Hills to meet a friend for coffee. Jude says hi to his dad and jumps into the shower to wash off the chlorine. Jimmy turns to me as he's walking out the door.
Hey. So I'm meeting Devin. Can you give me some cash for
the parking? They always eobguahs;dffkvuaw'gweilkalk
Gretchen calmly lifts her phone and dials 911.
You need to sit down. Something's wrong with you.
(to Emergency Operator)
Hello. I think my husband's having a stroke.
For 12 years now, I have complained that we live two blocks from a fire station, and have to deal with the constant wail of sirens. I will never complain again. Those guys were here within a minute. They accessed the situation, took his vitals, loaded him into the ambulance, and were about to drive away when I realized that Jude was still in the shower. It went down that fast. And with strokes, Time = Brain. The more time passes before treatment, the more brain is damaged.
I found someone to leave Jude with, then rushed down and met them at the emergency room. They got him there, ran him through a CAT scan, and started pumping him with drugs. As it was explained to me, this miracle drug they gave him works like Draino. It just powers its way through the bloodstream and clears out anything blockages. Luckily, we got him there quickly enough for this Draino to do its job well.
The brain is very interesting. Apparently, Jimmy had a number of small strokes on the left side of his brain, the area which controls speech. And language/speech was the only area damaged. He had no drooping of one side of his face or issues with movement. He just temporarily lost the ability to speak and connect with language. It's at this point that I should remind everyone that Jimmy is an actor, and an acting teacher. So speech? Important.
A crowd of neurologists kept coming in and hovering around him, asking questions. They had a written list of words which they kept making him say out loud. "Huckleberry". "Fifty-fifty". When he first got to the ER, these came out "Hlvrono;e;lvlk" and "Frvnj-veflve". Then after about an hour on the Draino they became "Hookklbuuey" and "Vivity-Vifffffy". By the time they decided he could safely be moved out of the ER to a room, he could say the words, but only with great effort and concentration. He had aphasia. Which basically means the loss of the ability to understand or express speech. But he would heal quickly, and the doctors were certain that he'd have a full recovery.
The man was damned lucky. I mean, really, really lucky. If Jude and I had gotten home two minutes later, we would have missed him and he'd have been in his car driving to Beverly Hills when he had the stroke, instead of speaking right to my face. All the doctors kept going on about how lucky he was. I guess it's not very common that someone has a stroke while somebody's actually standing right in front of them and able to call 911 within seconds. One doctor actually told him he should do some soul-searching about God and the meaning of life, because somebody was clearly watching out for him. The other doctor suggested that the person watching out for him was HIS WIFE. I think it was a combo.
He had to stay in the hospital for two days so they could make sure he wasn't going to have another stroke. He will be on blood thinners for the rest of his life, and he has to seriously be good about his diet and exercise. I have now purchased FOUR Mediterranean Diet cookbooks. But for the most part he's expected to be fine, and his speech is back to normal.
Did I spend the next three days comforting my sick husband and son (who was being very stoic but was probably scared to death)? No. I spent the next three days freaking out about Bingo Night/Snack Bar/Work trip to New York. Because I now not only had to find people to take over all my damned volunteer jobs, I had to leave my 12-year old home in charge of his father who'd had a stroke. It's times like this when one truly appreciates friends. After all, it takes a village. A gang of excellent women swooped in and brought them meals and managed driving Jude to school. All sorts of blessings here.
Jimmy's well, the trip was great, the commercial a success, and Jimmy, Jude, Bingo Night and the Snack Bar survived without me.
Oh, and everyone has to remember...DON'T TELL MOMMY! Jimmy's parents don't know about the stroke, and absolutely can't. Seriously, it might actually kill Mommy. Ignorance is bliss.
So that happened.
The other day I was talking to my childhood friend Flavia about Jimmy's stroke, her aging mother's health, and the endless planning for her daughter's upcoming wedding and she suddenly asked "When did we get all these grownup problems?" It's true, right? When did this happen? I clearly remember the days when my biggest worries were what to wear that day and if some guy liked me.
So that's what I've been doing lately. Taking care of grownup problems. I'll try to do better with my blogging.