Once a month we had Wayne’s blood drawn to monitor his blood chemistry. The doctor could tell by the blood analysis what was going on in his body. Wayne’s legs got weaker, but they couldn’t find a reason for it, except his failing kidneys and continuing dialysis.
Then one night he had a stroke. At first we weren’t aware that this had happened since it must have occurred in the middle of the night. Usually when a stroke hits, one side of the body is paralyzed, at least for a short time. Wayne didn’t have any outward signs of a stroke, except that he couldn’t keep his balance and he had problems walking straight. These symptoms started the doctor looking for a cause. When his monthly blood test returned with indications of an imbalance, the doctor wanted to see him immediately. However, before we could get to Portland to see the doctor, Wayne collapsed and I couldn’t get him off the floor. I called the doctor and we sent him by ambulance to St. Vincent’s Hospital in Portland. He spent seventeen days in the hospital and we discovered that he had had a stroke. Sadly, this news was just a taste of what was to come.
We got through Christmas, but he was weak; his legs didn’t want to carry him well. He was tired all the time too. Then in February he became extremely weak, and collapsed again. This time I had called for an ambulance before he collapsed and made arrangements to fly him to Portland, because winter mud slides had closed the road. I would have to wait for the roads to clear before I could drive down. Wayne was put in the Critical Care Unit for ten days, so I couldn’t have been with him too much. He was completely out of his head, not knowing anything about what was happening to him. They found he had a life-threatening case of peritonitis, due to a perforated bowel. The surgeon performed a bowel resection, and a colostomy, and placed him on hemodialysis. We almost lost him!
With Wayne hospitalized in Portland and me two hundred miles away in Hermiston, I was faced with another dilemma. I couldn’t leave my mother, for she needed someone with her most of the time, and she refused to stay along at night. I tried to hire someone, but after two weeks it was so expensive that the family decided to help.
Mother wouldn’t go to Casey’s home---she said the children would drive her crazy. This really put a strain on my daughter Casey. She lived in Boardman, which was 26 miles away, but she packed up her three-year-old son and drove to Hermiston every morning to stay with Mother, spend the night, then returned home each morning. She got her twelve-year-old daughter, Nikki ,off to school and went back to our house to stay with mother again. This routine went on for a month.
I returned home every two weeks for clean clothes and to give Casey a break. This was a hard time for everyone. I lived in a motel for the first two weeks, but it was expensive, so our son-in-law Gary drove our motor home to Portland for me to stay in. There wasn’t room in the RV park next to the hospital, so we parked near some bushes so it would be ready when a spot opened up. I stayed in the motor home without water or electricity during some very cold weather. One or two mornings the temperature inside the motor home was thirty four degrees. Brrr!!! My goose bumps had goose pimples. I must have been quite a sight, with my sweat suit on for pajamas and five blankets piled over me. My face was so cold each morning, I thought I had slept outside. I would light the gas stove to warm up the place in the morning, and then hop back in bed until the chill was off. Talk about a spit bath! Spit would have been warmer than the water. I made it through ten days of cold weather before a spot opened up in the park. Boy, was it nice to take a hot sower and have heat for a change.
I didn’t know anything about operating the motor home, so I couldn’t even light the hot water heater. Luckily, it had been winterized. Thank goodness for my son-in-law. He got the hot water heater started and we filled the tank with water, and I was set for a while.
With electricity, I could use the electric blanket and did it feel good! I spent most of my waking hours with Wayne in the hospital, so i didn’t need too much, just a place to sleep...a warm place. The nurses at the hospital were letting me use Wayne’s bathroom to shower until I got heat. They said if it got too cold to just come in and sleep in the chair next to my husband. The were so sweet.
This RV park was right across from the hospital, actually, on the hospital grounds. It was a short walk to the entrance of the hospital. It was also free, which was good---I was getting low on funds. That’s where I lived for the first two months or so.