How does a Stroke affect you!




I never knew how much I loved my own mother until she had a right side stroke on July 26th 2011.  It changed her life and mine.  Mother never fully recovered from the stroke although the specialists were very hopeful.  She now resides in a Nursing Home in Wilson Kansas called the Golden Living Center.

1-DSC_0012 Darlene Mattas



Mom was one of the hardest working women I knew.  I, the oldest of three girls had more responsibility than I ever imagined while growing up; and it continued as I got older.  I was the Power of Attorney of Medical for both my Step-father Ernest J Mattas and my mother Darlene for ten years before my step-father died.  On the day of mother’s stroke, she baked over 14 dozen Kolaches (Czech pastry) to get ready for the Wilson Czech festival event.  My mother-in-law Jacqueline Shiever and I stopped at the farmhouse in Wilson where I grew up to visit with mother on the way back from our trip to Longpine Nebraska.  My mother and Jackie are the same age–6 months apart!   I knew my mother looked very tired that evening but as she stood on the porch with her dog Buddy to wave good-bye I never in my life imagined it would be the last time my mother would remember everything from the past or ever be able to walk again.


My sister and I thought we made the best decision when we chose Golden Living Center in Wilson Kansas because she was only 6 miles away from the farm she lived on and raised us three girls.  If I had know what I do now; she would have been moved to Salina Kansas where I could see her everyday instead of driving an hour to see her while visiting in a little room or in a day-room surrounded by other elderly people.  it’s difficult reassuring her things “will be better” as she sits there day after day with nothing but time to think about things the way they were.  She can’t go on little outside events unless the Nursing Home takes her there and they only have enough people to support transportation to and from doctor visits.


The results of the stroke have been horrible for her because she was always a get up and go person; even with a cane.  But I encourage people to enforce using a walker in the home instead of a three post cane for support to prevent falls.  Mother is handicapped now because her legs and knees are very weak.  She is non-transferrable unless a hydraulic lift is used.  She can’t stand for a very long time, and she can’t walk.  The health care doesn’t allow for extensive therapy unless there is a life changing event and then there is a 30 day window.  You learn so much and even then, you aren’t told everything you should know when you are a family member.  In her dreams she sees herself walking around on the farm doing things like planting roses, gardens, and baking!  She’s told me stories about things she can remember; however sometimes she doesn’t remember when my step-dad died 7 years ago or that my biological father died when I was four.  She remembers the present very briefly, too.


I have devoted my life to making sure I never miss any of her doctor appointments, and whenever she is in the hospital I am there with her as her POA over medical; yet I still don’t have all the answers to questions.  But I can tell you that some of the stories you hear about in Nursing Homes are very true.  There isn’t always enough staff to make sure everything is done in a timely manner.  Communications are terrible, and sometimes the family is still the last to know what may be very important.

In my own lifestyle; I gave up writing for a brief time, and taking photos of what I love because I didn’t want to miss anything regarding mom.  My mother wants me to do a book of photos from travels and write stories about the places I see, things I do, and memories to pass on to my own son.  She said “I wish we would have written down more things”.


Our mother gets extremely lonely and very depressed.  She’s stuck in a situation I can’t change.  Her stroke has affected me and all the family members who were close to her.  Twice she has been hospitalized for becoming severely dehydrated and she’s had close calls where I thought we were losing her.  I made a promise to her I would continue to write and take photos so now I tell her where I am going and what I am doing via phone.  I encourage other family members to please go see her, and write to her.  I just wish that employees who worked in the homes would stay with her long enough to make sure she can read her letters and cards as sometimes she has mail she has not opened for a month.  When her eyeglasses were lost in the Nursing Home and they had not ordered any like they said they would; my sister and I knew mom couldn’t see anything without those glasses.  When I got them ordered and drove them to her; she said “my gosh daughter, now I can see what I am doing.”  Your five senses mean so much, and without them things are difficult.  Make sure your loved one has their glasses, their teeth, and their hearing aids when they need them.  They are too embarrassed and upset to complain and it’s up to you to make things happen.


So please, look around you; and learn a valuable lesson before it’s too late.  Tell those you love how much you mean to them.  Cherish all those family moments, for once they change–they don’t come back.  The signs are not always there for us to see; but when your body tells you to rest awhile make sure you do.  Follow up with your doctor and don’t be stubborn.  It may cost you more than you think.


It’s difficult to have someone you love so much live in a Nursing Home; however unless you are quite wealthy it costs so much to have in-home health care round the clock.  File complaints when you need to and stand up for those you love because they lose their rights when you aren’t always there to protect them since someone else decides what is the best for them without your knowledge.  You may be treated like an outcast once you file the complaint; and the main offices only want to hear a part of your side until you threaten to take it to the news media.  Document everything from day one!  Protect your loved one and yourself.


It’s true–these nightmares happen!  Don’t let them become yours too.



Written By Anne Shiever

Salina KS Freelance Writer

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