With all this great stuff going on, I also have experienced one quite devastating event. A very dear friend of mine suffered a stroke the day after Memorial Day. He is so dear to me that I can honestly consider him one of my true BFF's. He is 60 years old but he is not your typical 60 year old. He's my karaoke buddy and over the last 5 1/2 years, we have just become great friends, going out singing 3 times a week. Imagine my devastation when a mere acquaintance from the karaoke establishment we frequent sent me a text message first asking how he was, and then when I answered that I guessed just fine, asked me if he'd had a stroke. My heart sank and I felt my face become fire hot. I was sure it was a mistake and this person had the wrong guy. I was so wrong. He had, in fact, had a stroke and was in the hospital, unable to speak and paralyzed on his right side. Being a friend and not family, I felt I should wait before going to the hospital, to give the family time to visit while he was in ICU. No blood clots were found in the brain and his prognosis was good. It was several days before I was able to see him and until I did, I could only imagine the worst. I couldn't rest (and shockingly, didn't have an appetite) and couldn't get him off my mind. I wanted to see my friend for myself and let him know I knew what had happened and that I cared and I was there to help. Several days passed and he was moved to a regular room and I went to see him. It was quite a sad sight. My friend, who is so full of life, always laughing, always singing, always in a happy mood, was so pitiful, laying immobile in this hospital bed. To my surprise, he looked fine, as his face-droop had already corrected itself before I saw him. Still, he had such a sadness in his eyes. I wanted to cry but managed to keep it together while I was in the room with him. All I did was smile and encourage him. The next time I saw him, I actually got him to sing with me. Our "signature" duet is 'Cruisin' by Huey Lewis and Gwynneth Paltrow. I started it and he sang along with me, remembering every word, even when I forgot. He didn't move that right side at all. Soon afterward, his doctor and family determined he was depressed and uncomfortable having visitors see him as he was. He wasn't responding as he should and slept all the time. His family asked us friends not to visit for a while to see if maybe he'd come around and start responding and interacting more without the "threat" of visitors. It was very hard but I wanted what was best for him, so I stayed away. Last week, I was able to see him again and he seemed a bit better in spirits but is still not moving or talking. It has now been a month since the stroke and he was just moved into a nursing home, temporarily, because he had to be discharged from the hospital and rehab facilities turned him down because he does not respond or show initiative to start moving and talking again. He has a feeding tube in his stomach and is unable to eat or drink due to swallowing difficulties. My heart is broken as I see my friend going through this terrible time. I really believed he'd be well on his way to a full recovery by now because he's so strong and just loves life. However, we never know how the patient feels until we are in their "hospital gown".
All I do is pray and visit as often as I can. I don't karaoke anymore because it is just too sad without my buddy. I've decided that until he can sing again, I won't be singing again. Yesterday, I went to see him and on the way, I prayed for the Lord to give me some glimmer of hope, something to let me know his mind was good and he just needed more time, but would be ok later. My prayer was answered and the visit was good. He was alert and stayed awake the whole time I was there. He winked at me and held my had a lot. He sang 2 songs with me and responded to everything I said or asked him. He's still not moving on the right side and he's not talking except to answer, "yep" or say "alright". It's so weird that he can sing anything but won't speak more than those two words. Anyway, I feel better and I do still have hope. He's such a sweet, fun, friend to many and he just has to recover and be himself soon.
I've prayed so much for the Lord to heal him and let him make a full recovery, so I know this will happen. Now, my prayer is that he is not neglected by the staff at the nursing home and that he his receiving some small form of therapy now to help him gain enough strength to be moved to a more skilled facility to begin serious full-time rehab.
I know "this too shall pass" but it sure is painful right now. Thanks to anyone who has taken the time to read this post and I will ask you to please say a prayer for my friend, Butch. I'm a firm believer in the power of prayer and I will appreciate even the smallest prayerful mention of him.
I've updated my blog music playlist with my favorite songs that Butch sings at karaoke. These are some of his best and the most loved on his list by me and many other karaoke friends. If I could figure out how to download my CD with him actually singing, I'd put that on here but I'm not that savvy yet.