This day changed the lives of our entire family.
At around 10 that morning, I received a call from my wife’s program assistant saying that she as not feeling well. Could I come downstairs?
My wife and I were both professors at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. We had the envious setup of not only having faculty positions in the same institution, but our offices were in the same building, one floor away. Ironically, we still took two cars to work – mostly due to the fact that we had to take turns with parenting tasks and home tasks. Our courses were often late afternoons and early evenings, and someone had to be home to handle after school duties, drive to practices, prepare dinner, etc. Again, most people juggle the same thing.
Anyway, on that September 1, I went straight to her office, and it was clear that she looked terrible. My wife rarely gets sick, and her “look” was something that I have never seen before. She wanted to go home right away, and the bulk of our 60 second discussion was about how to get both cars home. Could she drive in her state? She thought “yes”, but that was truly questionable. Something was alarmingly wrong and getting worse by the moment.
Then it hit me.
Her voice was garbled like she had cotton balls in her mouth. The left side of her face was sagging, and she was slowly but surely leaning to her left.
She was having a stroke, and she was only 48 years old.
When I said, “you’re having a stroke”, her look was something I’ll never forget. Fourteen years earlier her mother had a stroke and had died about two years previously. The impact of the stroke on her mother was tremendous – and quite negative in terms of disability. I knew this was going through her mind.
Her expression was one of devastation, and we both knew life would never be the same.
More next time.