HELP JAY FIGHT THE DEBILITATING EFFECTS OF HIS STROKE
Hi. I am Grace Falagne Asuncion. I have a sister-in-law, Arlin, who has been married for more than 25 years to a wonderful man, Jay Ocampo. They have raised an achiever of a son, Artie – their only child. For the last three years, their son was in Taiwan, pursuing his masteral studies in materials engineering. As such, the couple were alone in their home at this time, feeling fulfilled in their respective jobs: Jay in sales and Arlin in teaching and doing consultation work for human resource management. They looked forward to the hometown visits of Artie during his school breaks, and life was kind and peaceful.
However, last 26 November 2018, while doing some grocery shopping, Arlin noticed, while at the cashier, that Jay would pause while taking out the items from the cart, each time there would be a pause of a few seconds. This was odd, as Jay would move fast and precisely each time. This happened three times. On the third time, the pause seemed much more prolonged, and Arlin, having read a lot about the signs of stroke, knew that Jay was having one at that precise time. Jay was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation eight years ago, in 2011, and was under the care of a cardiologist. Atrial fibrillation leads to a stroke. Jay was already taking regular medication for such all this time.
When Arlin made Jay stand up, the telltale signs of a stroke were already there: his speech was slurred - he was trying to speak but his speech was hard to understand, there was asymmetry in his face, with the left side of his face appearing lopsided, and he couldn’t stand up on his own. He looked very disoriented and confused. He didn’t know what was happening to him. The emergency team of the supermarket then sprang into action, and Arlin called her brother, who lived nearby, to bring them to a nearby hospital, after talking to a doctor and making sure that the best solution, at that time, was to bring Jay to a hospital for emergency life-saving procedures. For strokes, time is of the essence.
It was very hard to transport Jay to the hospital. The left side of his body was not moving. He had to be made to sit on a wheelchair as he was not able to move his left side. His arm, leg and foot were rendered incapable of movement.
Their worst fears were realized when the doctors at the general hospital where Jay was brought affirmed that the diagnosis was Cerebrovascular Disease Infarct, Permanent Atrial Fibrillation, Hypertension, and Dyslipidemia. He was made to undergo both CT and MRI scans. The CT scan was done but they were unable to do the MRI as he was heavily disoriented by then and was not able to lie down long enough for the scan to ensue.
He was transferred to another, bigger hospital, where the care would have been more thorough, for it was in there where his long term doctors were holding office. It was discovered that he experienced a massive stroke at 8:10pm that night, at the grocery store – one so massive that the doctors were dumbfounded on what, precisely, to do. The MRI scans indicated that the major artery in the right side of his brain was completely blocked. Surgery was not advised as the window of opportunity has long passed. It was, at that time, already six hours after the stroke. Surgery is only advisable for the first three hours. They were also fearful of the possibility that his brain could swell, and thus an operation to open his skull, if needed, would be pursued. They had to manage his very high blood pressure, something that was never a problem, pre-stroke. He spent the next eight days in the ICU and stayed short of one month in a regular room afterwards, going home on the 20th December 2018.
Now, more than nine months after his stroke, Jay needs constant medication: amongst these life-saving anti-stroke and anti-seizure medicines; intensive and regular physical and occupational therapy; round the clock care and assistance of a caregiver, and selective and periodical medical tests such as CT scans and other tests meant to check his progress or monitor his numbers, among others. As he is currently bed-ridden, he also has a constant need for toiletries that are necessary for his hygiene and comfort. Transportation to and from his hospital visits can be costly, too, as a riding app and service are needed, as he cannot anymore drive and has to be reliant on this costly service to get around.
The stroke has been hard on Jay. Normally a very independent and active professional and family man, he now has to let other people do everything for him. This frustrates and embarrasses him tremendously. He is used to being the one to take care of others. He does not like it that people have to watch over him 24/7. The left side of his body is rendered almost unserviceable, and this makes him very reliant on other people to do the simplest tasks for him. His progress and healing is slow, despite his regular therapy sessions, as his stroke was massive. His neurologist said that this is the very reason that he is susceptible to having seizures, which would land him in the hospital every time this happens. He is incessant in his motivation, longing, and actions to recapture the use of his body’s left side, and the fact that right now, after more than nine months, his left leg can only do minimal movements and his arm and hand can do nothing is heartbreaking for him. All these have made him despondent, depressed, and highly anxious. The slightest headache can make him believe that he is about to have another stroke. The occasional heart palpitations make him convinced that he will have a heart attack. He longs for his life before – able to work for his family, able to drive, to spend time with loved ones, to take care of them, to travel with them. Sadly, these activities are denied him now, and if finances remain tight, these might be denied him forever.
He is anxious about the constant influx of bills and the regular need for finances that would assure him of continued care, therapy sessions, medications, payment for tests and check-ups, funds for possible hospitalization: when and if needed, and the assurance that this will all be sustained.
Stroke, when it happens, is not reversible. He is not considered out of danger already. The possibility of another stroke is highest the first year after the first incident. Also, the blockage emanated from his heart, so his heart is rendered all the more problematic now. There are so many warning signs to look for now that his health is considered precarious, at best. The practical and immediate goal now for Jay is regular physical and occupational therapy sessions to strengthen his weakening muscles on the left side of his body. The right side of his brain was the one that had a massive artery blockage, and the resultant of all these sessions is to enable him to have some semblance of movement, and physical independence, by encouraging his muscles to move.
Time is of the essence as stroke victims are given only one year to regain movement where it is needed. Nevertheless, regardless of this deadline, and more so because there IS a deadline, he needs financial assistance to have continued and sustained care and therapy to enable him to live, and do it in a humane, encouraging, and joyful manner.
Right now, the only source of the finances needed for Jay’s care is his wife’s income. Sadly, no matter how much Arlin tries, this is not enough. It is never enough. She takes on extra hours at work to supplement the needs of Jay but the breadth of this need and the regularity with which it is needed makes it virtually impossible to provide for and/or save up for it.
His son, Artie, gives whatever he can from his salary from his first job, but this is still not enough. He had to sacrifice the completion of his masteral studies in Taiwan, where he was set to graduate more than a month before his father was struck down by his stroke, as only his father and mother were at home in the Philippines when the stroke happened. He was needed for physical, moral and medical support. Aside for these two sources of funds for Jay, there are no other means of meeting this need, as of the moment.
Being unable to do anything to raise money for his own care, as he lost his job due to this illness, makes Jay distraught, weepy at times, and generally ashamed of how his wife and son has to work tirelessly to raise the amount of around P120,000.00 per month for this need. This leaves Jay, and consequently, Arlin and Artie, feeling constantly dejected, worried, anxious, and depressed: Jay from being ashamed of relying on his family for everything, and Arlin and Artie for constantly fearing that money will not be there, when it is needed, or will be insufficient to give Jay all his needs to keep him healthy, recovering, and alive.
Jay’s monthly needs are the following: P28,000.00 for thrice a week PT and twice a week OT sessions – and the transportation needed for these; P25,000.00 for the salary of a 12-hour duty caregiver; P20,000.00 for life-saving medicines; at least P50,000.00 stand by money for possible hospitalization for possible further strokes, seizures, or a heart attack: grave possibilities after the first stroke, P10,000.00 for bills, P35,000.00 for groceries, toiletries and food.
Any amount would be instrumental in giving Jay a decent manner of recovery that he hopes for and that Arlin and Artie yearns for. Jay is too young to spend the rest of his life on a bed: immobile, depressed, and left yearning for his active life before the stroke dealt him this heavy blow.Any amount would be highly appreciated, and will be used just for the purposes outlined above. We have pegged a particular target amount in this post but please do note that his care, and need for funds for this, is something that is vital but is regular and consistent.
Thank you, in advance, for your generous assistance. Jay would be indebted to you all for this confidence in his chance at survival, healing, wellness, and joy.