Suzy Mickelson tells the story.
It was election season, so Jan had just finished interviewing several presidential candidates and was ready to start Thanksgiving vacation. I came home and our 12' Christmas tree was up. This was Jan's responsibility because it was so tall. The white lights looked beautiful, and there was one package under the tree.
Jan is not necessarily a holiday person or a shopper, so I must have really hit it out of the park this year. We are way ahead of schedule for Christmas.
I could tell Jan was really proud of the present under the tree. He started talking about cooking over the holiday season and what were we going to eat. I said I wasn't sure but I had heard him talking on the radio about a pressure cooker infomercial and it sounded interesting.
Jan said, "Oh, I hoped you hadn't heard that." I am putting two and two together with the size of the present under the tree. Maybe Jan had succumbed to that infomercial. Teasing, I said, "Since I have to do all that cooking, I'm not sure I can wait until Christmas. Maybe we need one for Thanksgiving?" So, the first present under the tree was opened that night. It was the pressure cooker.
Saturday morning, we both got up early. It had snowed, so Jan had already shoveled the sidewalk and taken a shower. I had asked what his favorite meal would be using our newfangled pressure cooker. Jan said, "Chicken pot pie!" I had the ingredients, so I proceeded to put them in the cooker. Fifteen minutes was all it took. That had to be a record cooking time, but after 15 minutes, the potatoes were not quite done. So I asked Jan to check the book and see how much more time to run it. Jan was reading aloud from the instruction booklet when his words started sounding funny. He wasn't making sense...
During the first summer we were married (ages 19 and 20), we worked at Camp Wild Rose, in Wisconsin. One day, a camper came up to me and said Jan had been hurt and I should go to him. I went out to the car, and there was blood running down Jan's mouth. I pushed him over in the car saying I was taking him to the hospital. After a few seconds, Jan began to laugh hysterically, as well as all the campers. I'm not sure how they found fake blood at camp, but that prank was the beginning of many years of jokes and laughter, mostly at my expense.
So now, I ask Jan, "Are you joking, or are you serious?"
He didn't answer.
Again, "Are you joking or are you serious?
I figure I would get him with, "I'm going to call 911..."
Again, no response, so I called 911. He could yell at me later if he wanted.
I'm truly thankful that the Ankeny 911 response team came immediately. One of the first responders was a listener. He said how he had just heard Jan's show the day before. Jan seemed to settle down a bit, so I thought maybe he'd just had a small heart attack, but the 911 responder said to ask him to smile, and only one side of his mouth turned up, indicating he had had a stroke. They immediately scooped Jan up and out the door they went.
You take a breath, and you ask God for wisdom and grace having never been in this situation before. But I know it is important to set a good example as a Christian, wife and mother. I call our son, Scott, trying to sound like I have it together. No crying. Trying to be an adult. I tell Scott that something has happened to his father and the ambulance has taken him to the hospital and to meet me there.
By the time we get to the hospital, Jan had already been life-flighted to Iowa City Hospitals.
There is a TPA procedure for strokes, and Iowa City is the only hospital that does the procedure in Iowa. Receiving TPA can greatly aid Jan's recovery, and time was of the essence. By the time we arrived in Iowa City, Jan was in surgery. Later, I found out it took three tries for the doctors to remove the clot from Jan's brain.
Jan had never been in the hospital overnight. Broken bones, yes, and once for an angiogram to check out his heart (which turned out fine...they basically said if it hurts when you do too much exercise, don't exercise so much). Scott and Jan had laughed about an old Hee Haw skit about a doctor saying "Well, if it hurts, don't do that."
For the next two days, Jan was sedated and we were unsure of his survival.
Watch and wait.
Jan's family lives out of state. We didn't call them because it was Thanksgiving and we didn't want them rushing out to Iowa when Jan wasn't awake and we didn't know anything anyway. I didn't tell my family for the same reason. Scott and I waited and waited.
On Monday, Jan's phone rings. It's Van Harden, Jan's boss. Van asked why Jan wasn't answering his phone. They had hired a new manager at the radio station and Van wanted to talk to Jan about it.
I think you have to be careful talking to your husband's place of employment, even if it is Van, who is one heck-of-a-guy. I wanted to be more prepared when relaying the news. I remember crying to Van on the phone. Van, as kind as he is, said not to worry about a thing and he would take care of everything from his end. I will always be thankful for Van's kind words.
Jan finally starts to come around a bit, and immediately is his old self. It's been two days of no sleep and worry for me, but as soon as Jan wakes up, he asks, "Did you get a chance to try the Chicken Pot Pie?"
I said, "No, we had to go." The very next thing out of his mouth was, "Did you make sure to unplug the pressure cooker before you came?" Maybe this will be all right, I thought to myself.
Dr. Christensen comes in to talk to us and he explains that sometimes the brain swells after an injury like Jan's. And, in some cases, they must remove a part of the skull to allow the brain to expand. Dr. Christensen asks Jan for permission to do the procedure if necessary. Jan doesn't respond. Doc starts to repeat his remarks, to which Jan says, "I'm thinking it over." I recognize Jan doing the old Jack Benny "Your Money Or Your Life" routine. I'm convinced Jan's sense of humor is intact.
It's Thanksgiving, and Jan cannot have solid food. He can't even have a drink of water. We had settled on small ice chips, but the nurses said that was too much.
How do you spend Thanksgiving without food, without family, without being able to lift your head, and now without ice chips? Scott and I were at a loss. Jan's favorite drink is DDP (Diet Dr Pepper) so Scott got him Diet Dr. Pepper-flavored lip gloss. It seemed to help.
We spent Thanksgiving in the ICU. We watched the Princess Bride. Scott and Jan made jokes about being "only mostly dead" and looking through Jan's pockets for loose change. It's good to see Jan laughing.
Scott stopped at the Iowa River Power Restaurant as they were the only ones open on Thanksgiving. The owner was a listener and wished Jan a speedy recovery. Scott walked out of there with free trays of turkey, dressing, casseroles, and pumpkin pie from their buffet. We gave most of it to the nurses in the ICU. You've never seen a hospital staff happier to have a real Thanksgiving dinner working on Thanksgiving night.
There have been, and continue to be many out of pocket expenses.
University of Iowa Hospitals - 30 days
On With Life in Ankeny - 3 months
Iowa Heart - Pacemaker
House Remodel Handicap Access
Specialized Treatment in China - 3 months
Home health care
YMCA Therapy, Pool therapy
Stem cell initial and subsequent treatments
Stem cell Storage
Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment
Lots of insulin and lots of meds
Recovery and Future-
The docs say Jan's brain has healed and his voice has returned. Jan still has subluxation in his left shoulder and left-sided weakness. He currently walks with a cane.
Jan's goal is to be able to do all the normal mundane tasks that we all take for granted. Jan wants to be able to walk without a cane. His doctor says it's possible with enough training.
Jan still needs a daily workout program and added personal training with someone who specializes in stroke rehabilitation.
We'd like to get him a full-time helper/assistant/intern to assist with travel, workouts, podcasts, etc. Jan doesn't drive so some sort of assistance in that area would be appreciated.
Because of his left-sided weakness, Jan uses his right hand to hold the phone and type at the same time, so proofreading written materials prior to posting or emailing would help. Or in the alternative, mandate Jan to use the microphone button on his phone :)
Assistance to accomplish these endeavors would be greatly appreciated.
Also, some home health assistance would allow Suzy some much needed rest.
Back to work-
Jan very much wants to get back to work in whatever form possible. He wants to have a daily podcast on his Facebook page, and everyone has been after Jan to write a book. Now would be a good time.
Thank you for your prayers and continued support!
He loves and misses his audience.
Any contribution will be sincerely appreciated.
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