PAD photography, photo a day, stroll photography, Wouter Brandsma, Ricoh GR

One year later

2016, Photography

For my son

PAD photography, photo a day, stroll photography, Wouter Brandsma, Ricoh GR

November 17, 2015

It is November 17, 2015. Now exactly one year ago. My wife is by my son, then 14 years of age. A neurologist walks nervously, phone calling, from a control room to another room, returns to the control room, one more confirmation, and then stops by me. A nurse leaves a nearby MRI room and I briefly see my wife standing by my son. The neurologists freezes for a moment, takes a deep breath, and then tells me with a trembling voice the news that my son has had a stroke. He is emotional and gently put his right hand on my left shoulder.

PAD photography, photo a day, stroll photography, Wouter Brandsma, Ricoh GR

November 20, 2015

It was some two ours earlier in the living room of our house. My son was just about to go to school. It was raining, really hard, and we told him to get his rain cloths and prepare for his daily 17 kilometer bike ride to school. He was mumbling, almost whispering. I could make up that he wasn’t feeling so well. I told him to get up and make himself ready. As a father you don’t take everything a teenager says too seriously. It was time to leave. He stood up and walked towards me. That wasn’t normal. He was hanging slightly to the left, almost uncontrolled. We told him to sit. He couldn’t sit straight though and raise his left arm. I shocked, saw his face drooped, and then.

PAD photography, photo a day, stroll photography, Wouter Brandsma, Ricoh GR

November 23, 2015

He felt of the chair and I could just catch him. He was briefly talking unrecognizably. He was scared, I could see it in his right eye, and wondered what was going on. I was sitting on my knees right of him, asked if he could raise his left arm. My wife sat by him on the other side. I asked if he could smile, it was an uneven smile. We looked to each other and without talking we both understood the seriousness of this situation. We talked to him, asked what he felt, his age. We both had our thoughts and our first assumptions. These assumptions proofed not to be wrong unfortunately. I called the a nearby hospital and carried him to our car. In less then 15 minutes my wife brought him to the hospital. What followed were tests, a CT scan and eventually a MRI for final diagnosis. Our daughter hardly knew what happened. A shock that would unfortunately unfold for her later that day. She went unknowing to school, a deliberate choice at that moment. One I don’t regret, to be honest, but I know it was hard for her coping wi it.

PAD photography, photo a day, stroll photography, Wouter Brandsma, iPhone

November 24, 2015

The neurologist, while standing left of me, regains himself. You have to take a decision, a decision with uncertainties. Adults receives trombolysis as soon as possible after a stroke. With children’s the effects are unknown, but the neurologist tells me it is likely the best for him. I can’t consult my wife, she is still by my son. It is life or death, it is about reducing the potential risk of another stroke, but since I already thought he had a stroke I decide to give him the trombolysis. I knew my wife would do the same.

PAD photography, photo a day, stroll photography, Wouter Brandsma, iPhone

November 26, 2015

We progressed a year further. My son stayed in a rehabilitation clinic for three months. Learned to walk again, changed school unfortunately, his life got more uncertain, ours too. He gets tired very easily, at the end of the day he sometimes forgets the things said that morning. The doctors never found a cause, but I know that at that time next to the neurologist I, as a father, made an important and rather unwanted milestone decision for him. One I hope it was done for the better.

Thank you

I have to thank so many people who supported us this last year, especially those close to us. Our parents, my relatives, but mostly my daughter who showed such great strength at her young age. And most importantly my wife who is such a driving force.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

37 thoughts on “One year later

  1. A most moving account of the happenings a year ago you are sharing with us. Brought tears to my eyes. I have done a ‘like’ as I like it that you shared what happened. That in itself might be healing for you.

    1. I guess a like feels appropriate in such circumstances, even though it may sound so ought. After his stroke we always looked forward. Working hard to rehabilitate. It feels good, and I also felt the desire, to look back now. Finding energy to continue. Thank you Paula.

  2. Dank je wel voor je aangrijpende verhaal. ik hoop van harte dat jullie geweldige inzet en liefde voor je zoon mag worden beloond.

  3. I can’t imagine what you, your son, wife and daughter have been through Wouter. What I do know as a father, is that I would do everything in my power to protect/save my daughter if she was in danger. And that I would keep asking myself if I did the right thing. Thank you for sharing your family’s story with us. I wish the very best for your son’s continued recovery, and send you and your family light and good energy. PS: Thanks for sharing your poignant images with us too. It feels completely wrong to write how well they convey the emotions you all went through at the hospital, but they are very good photographs.

  4. Wouter,
    I’m so sorry to hear of this trauma you and your family have suffered. I wish you all the best for a steady recovery. I have a 15-yr. old daughter who, thankfully has been healthy all her life. Your words remind me to cherish every single moment with her and my family. Thank you so much for this post.
    Much regard,
    Jamie in California

    1. And not only cherish every single moment with your family, but also the small things in life. See there my interest for the mundane Jamie. My son is 15 years too (was 14 last November when it happened) and we’re making progress. He walks, can use his left hand to pick things up again. We’re getting there. Take care Jamie. Thank you.

  5. Why is life so harsh?
    I used to visit your blog every week. For me it was like a glimpse to a stranger’s diary with an excellent eye. Then I stopped, not sure why, maybe because it helps to put some distance with good stuff as it makes it more enjoyable to return to it. I woke up at around 5 am this morning and reached to my iPad by my bedside, after few and boring stops at my “favorite” photo forums, I asked to myself, wonder what he is up to these days and I googled your name and saw this post. I have no children of my own but I am human enough to realize that this is too much pain and shock for any mother or father to endure. It is very unfair for children to suffer, it happens all the time, but it is not supposed to happen. Life is full of unexpected turns and challenges. Words from strangers can be comforting at trying times but there is something cold and almost inhumane about sympathy and emotions conveyed via internet, so I’ll stop it here.

    1. Much appreciated Roni. We can only deal with the turns and challenges. It is what it is. Unfortunately people, and in particular children, do suffer. We take so much for granted. While the internet might be cold and almost inhumane, I do believe that sympathy and emotions can be conveyed. That is what matters to me.

  6. Wouter, I understand the process and pain that comes from a loved one having had a stroke. Please take comfort in improvements made as sometimes these do not materialise despite our best intentions, treatments etc. Believe in your brave son and give him the confidence, reassurance and support he needs in his recovery and believe that it will happen 🙂 best wishes and thanks for sharing this intimate and skilled report.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s