mom cruise ship.jpg

Today is Monday. I feel fairly normal for the first time in several weeks. My vacation was wonderful and horrible.

We had an amazing time on our Norwegian cruise that left right out of the Hudson River terminal in New York City. We didn’t barf from sea sickness. We walked all over Atlantis on a day trip. We drank pina coladas on a beach. For the first time in a long time, I relaxed. On the Norwegian Gem, you can’t lift a finger even if you want to. Delicious dining halls serve all of the meals and clean up afterward. The staff caters to every ridiculous whim. You don’t even sign credit card receipts–you take care of your tab at the end.

Before I left for this cruise, I’d been cramming in three jobs and, as I wrote here, one of my daughters had been in admitted to St. Barnabas hospital for 5 days. I was looking forward to my time off.

Maybe the cruise was going too well. Everything was too perfectly blissful–and perfect just isn’t real life.

Early in the morning on Thursday of our trip, my mother had a stroke in my room.

It was an out-of-body experience for her–and for me. I was taking her on a garden tour in Freeport, Grand Bahama Island, that morning. She arrived in our room and fed the baby his yogurt for the morning. Then she collapsed.

She was half-awake, half-unconscious. I kept asking her questions to keep her from blacking out. The answers turned my stomach. She told me her long-deceased little sister had been waking her up at night. I asked her my father’s name, and she stated her father’s name. Worst of all, she couldn’t walk without my and my husband’s help, and she shuffled her feet and flapped her hands.

It was a stroke. I am not sure how I knew it, but I did. I was scared.

Johan and I carried her to the ship doctor who immediately recommended we disembark. Of course the doc wanted us off her ship. She saw us only as lawsuits, and she was about as charming as an angry DA. So, without time to tell my little kids goodbye, I rushed to our cabins (everyone was eating breakfast) to pack her bags and mine. I grabbed our passports. I took her to a tiny hospital that was packed with Bahamans in Freeport. My husband and our wonderful au pair, Christin, stayed aboard the ship with my kids, and they spent three more days at sea, cruising back to New York.

I don’t want to go into the wonderful doctors we met at that badly kept, rundown facility in Freeport. I don’t want to talk about my mom repeating questions over and over while I searched for a sink with soap in the Emergency Room. And I don’t want to write about what it felt like to leave my mom in a sardine-packed women’s ward while I walked back to my little hotel room nearby.

The good news is, she stabilized quickly. Her thought processes and physical abilities came back. I was able to talk the doctors into giving her medical clearance for a flight back to my hometown near Louisville, Kentucky, by Friday afternoon. We arrived, and I’ve never seen my dad so reserved and worried and relieved. I finally got back to Montclair on Sunday, April 5, which was my 35th birthday.

There is more good news, too. She’s still doing better. The doctors say she had a transient ischemic attack, which is a minor stroke. It didn’t look minor to me, but I’m so grateful for that diagnosis. She doesn’t remember having it, seeing the ship doctor, or anything before we arrived at Rand Memorial Hospital in Freeport.

Every day, I call my mom reminding her eat her veggies.

We are very lucky. I am happy that I was there to help my mother, and we all are arrived safely at home.

I am also happy to be back at work–now I have a nice schedule of just two jobs I like, including Barista Kids.

But I’m not going to lie, I could use a vacation.

5 replies on “Drama at Sea: My Mom’s Stroke on Our Vacation Cruise”

  1. Kristen, sounds like you need to go away to a spa to recover from your “vacation”. What a nightmare.

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