#SixSentenceStories; Stroke

The word this week from GirlieontheEdge, our Six Sentence Story hostess, is “stroke”.

Be sure to go to the LINKUP to enter your own Six Sentences and to read and comment on other stories.

The Stroke by D. Avery

The problem with strokes, her brother used to say, is they don’t kill people, a creed inspired by their father’s stroke, and she understood it as a caring statement, not as callous as it might seem.

No, for together they had witnessed what a prolonged death looked like, what a life trapped in an unspeaking, unmoving body entailed for the family as well as the patient. Both she and her brother knew what their father would have wanted but they’d all been rendered powerless, overwhelmed by emergency responses and subsequent medical interventions that would not heal and restore, would only maintain the basic bodily functions of a once robust man who gradually shrank into unbearable despair with each day that he survived to endure the effects of his stroke.

There’s a line, her brother used to say, that once crossed, it’s too late, once you’re in the hands of the doctors they will keep lungs breathing and hearts beating and call that life even when speech and mobility are gone.

She missed her brother’s voice, but she could hear it in her mind, knew what he was telling her with his eyes, saw the slight nod of affirmation as she followed his silent command, tears forming as she approached his immobile form clutching the pillow. He did not need to speak out loud for her to know that his were tears of gratitude.

40 thoughts on “#SixSentenceStories; Stroke

  1. This went right to my gut.
    Strokes are horrid when they cannot be reversed. My step-father was miserable for much the five years of living in a wheelchair, paralyzed on his left side.
    My husband threatened to haunt me if I ever let him live “like a vegetable” so you can imagine my horror when I didn’t arrive at the hospital fast enough to tell them to stop trying to revive him after his massive heart attack. I spent ten days apologizing him until we finally unplugged him.
    I feel so much for your MC. .

    Liked by 2 people

    • I feel so much for you! Sorry to have gut punched you with this fiction. I had a friend, fifty years my senior, whose brother died of a stroke, eventually. She loved him dearly and would tell me that was what was wrong with strokes, that they didn’t kill people. One could wonder why the brother in this story didn’t have a directive or living will, but maybe the event took him by surprise, or took an unexpected turn for his responders. Hard to say. We all do our best, as you did, and I am certain your apologies have been accepted.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Thank you 🙂
        I think these events pretty much always take us by surprise. I’ve heard of those who have strokes are and are given a medication which basically reverses it and they continue to live normal lives. Doesn’t work for everybody and not all are eligible (like my stepfather)
        And yes, we do our best – it’s all we can do!
        Beautifully done, still 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • I do remember that one, thank you for the reread.
      Modern medicine is amazing and sometimes uncalled for. I’ve had as a sort of earworm lately the Dylan Thomas poem and disagree that Old age should burn and rave at close of day… Going gently into that good night should be the goal, when the time is right.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I must concur with the others, a powerful Six, and a glimpse into a reality that none should ever find themselves caught up in.
    I would offer that most could muster the courage to step up, except the ramifications of such an act would not be tolerated by most cultures and legal systems. The consequences extreme for what one could argue is the most unselfish of acts unfortunately or not are far too great for most.
    Provocative Six, yo

    Liked by 4 people

    • The training and laws certainly are against an act of courage such as this character is stepping up to. I am impressed with Hospice Care and how they work with patients and families to focus on quality of life and comfort and are frank about the inevitable. No one can ever know exactly when but if lucky can have a say in where and some conditions.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I watched someone die on a respirator in the icu–it was an agonizing month. My daughters know how I feel, but even with directives, doctors often seem incapable of just letting it be. Powerful. (K)

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Just came here after visiting Doug’s Six and commenting about how cruelly we are deprived from choosing our exit…

    Gut punches are needed and well overdue, if you ask me. If only we had/have more of them, if only our civilization of spacefarers, would explore and conquer first,fundamental issues as this.
    Powerful Six, indeed.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. This is a serious heart-grabber, 5-Star, authentic description and emotion…I’m wowed. Both my mom and her mother had strokes that didn’t kill them–it’s my one great fear that my turn will come in same style. I do wear a DNR bracelet (RED), so maybe that will be an advantage.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. This is such a sad story, D. My grandmother suffered a stroke at aged 64 and lived the next 22 years of her life in a hospital bed, paralysed and unable to talk other than a few words. Yes, Sister. No Sister. Whenever we visited, she always seemed happy to see us, but I don’t know how she didn’t go mad. No machines kept her body alive, but she had to be cared for, of course. She couldn’t do it alone. As my mum approached 64, I worried that she would have a stroke too, but she got all the way to almost 91 without a stroke. Now that I’ve safely passed 64 too, I hope I can make it to 91, like my mum, or more. 💖

    Liked by 2 people

      • It was quite tragic and added a huge burden to my mum. She was the only one of Nan’s ‘children’ who lived close by. And when I say close, it probably took about 2 – 2 and a half hours to get there. It took all Sunday afternoon and evening. After Mass in the morning, she’d cook a Sunday roast, then catch the bus to visit her mum. There was a bus, a trolley bus, a ferry, and a long walk up a hill. Then the return trip home. I think Mum would have given birth to her seventh child about the time Nan had her stroke. She had three more children after that. She visited at least every second Sunday, and sometimes more often. I remember staying home from school when I was ten to look after the ‘little kids’ while Mum visited at times. But I agree with you – yikes to a mind trapped in a body unable to communicate. It is definitely a fear of mine, though I don’t let it weigh me down.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. My father begged me to grab the pillow if he ever ended up like that. However, he passed away peacefully just one week before his 90th birthday after a short illness and with all his faculties intact. I thank my lucky stars for that – for us both.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you Frank. Yes it is some people not all people with strokes and this is an extreme solution and thank goodness, only fiction for me. But it was human intervention that got him into his predicament, the medics who saved him from death, so he is now counting on another human intervention to finish what had started naturally.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Powerful Six, D. All previous comments attest to that and unfortunately to having familiarity through family members who have suffered the long term effects of stroke. The last 2 sentences. Heart-wrenching. They brought tears to my eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

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