Monday, July 24, 2017


Many of you by now have heard snippets or maybe even details about Dad being in the hospital this week.  We always try to refrain from doing a huge Facebook post until we have at least a little bit of an idea of what is going on.  It's going to be a long one, so I came here, instead.

In my last post, I talked about the reasons I was moving home, and one of the bigger reasons was that Kingfisher, no matter how much I loved the school and the people, was just too far away when something is happening with my family.  The last 37 hours have definitely confirmed that decision.

Our Sunday routine is pretty static--church, lunch, naps. Very rarely do we deviate from that "master plan."  This past Sunday, Dad stepped out of church during the invitation, but I didn't think much of it.  He is an usher and has various other responsibilities on Sunday mornings, so anything could have pulled him out of the service.  I was helping Mom clean the nursery after church when I got a text from Dad saying "Im going home not hungry take your mom"  He was deviating from the master plan, big time.  Of course, Mom's wifey senses were on high alert, and we went home to check on Dad before going to lunch.

Mom's instincts were spot on.  We found dad in bed, struggling to breathe, unable to speak, and unable to move.  It quickly became apparent that we needed to call 911.  The paramedics found Dad's blood pressure was extraordinarily high, but that didn't necessarily explain all his symptoms, so the decision was made to take him to the hospital.  He was admitted into the ER under Code Stroke.

Dad presented with all the typical signs of stroke.  Difficulty with speech, weakness in his arms and legs on the left side of his body, and facial droop.  However, CT scans came back negative for stroke, so he was sent for an MRI to take a more detailed picture.  Sometime between the CT scan and the MRI, he started having trouble with choking on his saliva.  A swallow test was performed and he couldn't failed at the very beginning with liquids.  No eating or drinking until a consult with a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP)...who doesn't work on Sundays.  He was admitted following the MRI, and we awaited results.

MRI results were also negative for a stroke.  Once in his room, his nurse (who is amazing, by the way), said that we were probably dealing with Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) which is also known as a mini stroke.  I wasn't super clear on the difference between a mini stroke and the real deal, but the amazing nurse explained.  A mini stroke has all the symptoms of stroke, but they will typically go away on their own within a a few days.

This morning we started early with a visit from the neurologist.  She did several bedside tests and agreed that while this isn't testing as a stroke, it's very likely TIA.  We would have to see how he improved to determine if more testing would be necessary.  (We'll find out tomorrow if he needs another MRI.)  During her evaluation, Dad was able to raise his left arm higher than he has since this event started, the same with his leg.  With Dad, anytime he has some major health event, there is always something that "stumps" the medical professionals.  In this case, it is Dad's difficulty with speech combined with weakness on the left side of his body.  Those two functions are handled by different sides of the brain, so they are usually not experienced together.  Speech difficulty usually accompanies right side weakness.

After the neurologist, we met the Physical Therapist.  She made Dad sit on the side of the bed on his own, put on his special hospital socks by himself, walk him down the hall (with a gait belt and a walker), and sit up in a chair for a few hours.  My Nanny and I noticed improvements just during that short little trip.  Her goal is for him to walk out of there on his own.

Around noon (that's 28 hours since dad has had anything to eat or drink), the speech pathologist arrived to evaluate and complete a second swallow test.  She also is commented on the oddity of his speech and his left side.  He failed the second swallow test, so scheduled a Modified Barium Swallow Study (MBSS).  This is basically a swallow study that involves a "moving x-ray" that allowed the SLP to make sure when Dad swallowed nothing was getting into his lungs.  He passed the MBSS, and was finally allowed to have some water around 3pm.

The occupational therapist (deals with fine motor skills) came while most of us were at lunch.  She also agreed with the probable TIA diagnosis.  I'm not sure what all else happened with her visit, as I wasn't there.

Dad got to eat supper!  A full 33 hours after his last meal.  The most exciting part is that he was able to eat the entire meal without choking.  A major improvement from the previous day, when he couldn't even swallow his own saliva.   Praise the Lord!

The last part of the medical team who we saw today was a sonographer who performed an echocardiogram and a doppler on his throat.  We will find out tomorrow from his cardiologist what the results of that are.

Dad has made major improvements in the last 37 hours, but he still has a long way to go.  He is very determined, and keeps telling us that he is trying hard.

We definitely appreciate all the prayers, texts, calls, and visits.  There is a peace of mind in knowing that we are surrounded by so much love and prayer.

Thank you to all the therapists I've worked with for the last 5 years.  You've provided me with knowledge that helps me to understand what the PT, OT, and SLP are doing and saying, helping my family understand as well.  That little bit of knowledge I have gleaned from you has proven invaluable to me this week.

We are also so appreciative of the staff at Medical City of Denton.  The entire medical team has been amazing, and just prove why my Dad keeps coming back.

Keep watching Facebook for more updates, and keep those prayers coming!


  1. Holli..thank you so much for sharing this! It helps us to know how to pray. Please tell your dad the Burke's are praying for him (and all of you)! We love you guys so much. Keep us updated. ~Ron & Vicki

  2. Holli
    Tell your dad he and the family are in our thoughts and prayers. Tell him I love him and hope he gets well soon.


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