R.I.P. dad, Robert N. Orr, 7/30/44 – 1/3/10

Dad at his moms in 1988

As many of you know, my dad’s brother, my uncle Roger had a stroke at the age of 38 that was fatal. My contact with him over the years was minimal because of my young age and his residence in another state. Roger & I had some similar symptoms and life styles towards nutrition from what I know. I am now super strict about my intake, but prior to that it was similar.

Uncle Roger in 1988

My dad’s diet on the other hand was not! Meat, potatoes, butter, and sugar (soda). My Father has had several strokes with the 1st being very severe about 15 years ago at the age of 52. He had paralysis on an entire side of his body that took him apx. 2 years of Speech & Physical therapy to rebound. He sustained a permanent limp in his giddy up from the onslaught along with other contributing health complications. From that point till present, he had apx. 3 mini strokes that each effected him in different ways. Quite slight but quite apparent to those close to him. He had one just a few weeks prior to mine! Each time, he conquered and carried forward with a mind-set of family first in every situation and his wants & desires for himself were almost non-existent.

On Jan 2nd, 2010 he was out for a night of dancing with his wife (3rd) and friends which is something he did quite often his entire life. As a child, he was an accomplished dancer on skates winning several competitions along the way. In the 50’s, that was a big deal.

Dad skating

His present state had him moving gingerly because of sore knees which produced weak muscles which produces a professional couch potato:)… A happily retired couch potato:) He needed a break from dancing and a huge gulp from his favorite flavor, A Coke. Meanwhile, his wife, continued dancing on the floor but kept her eyes peeled on him. After his gulp, he set the glass down, and then fell to the floor…. His wife thought that he had lost his balance, but soon realized that this was not an accidental tripping. Miraculously, he was able to rise to his feet but in a complete days of no consciousness of reality. Your mind goes into a complete state of trying to identify and process every element in your surroundings as well as trying to understand your own physical state. A feeling that I know all too well. Repeated questions of ,”Are you OK?” were bombarded his way. Meanwhile, he was bleeding excessively from his mouth and nose. Paramedics rushed him to the hospital where he underwent brain scans & testing to find answers. The hospital crew was acting diligently with their knowledge while my dad was fighting and holding on as always. He was a man with a large hospital rap sheet. As his wife said, “he always came home.”  The visit wasn’t the norm and had an unfamiliar ending… My dad had suffered a brain aneurysm that ruptured known as a subarachnoid hemorrhage in the back of his head. While it is not defined as a stroke, it is certainly in the same class.

My Dad, sister Kelly, & brothers Kris & Brian (left)

An aneurysm is an abnormal widening or ballooning of a portion of a blood vessel. A cerebral aneurysm refers to a blood vessel within your brain that weakens over time and undergoes such widening. This usually occurs at the junctions of the large arteries at the base of your brain, in an area called the Circle of Willis (its on my research page here). As the blood vessel weakens, it begins to bulge out like a balloon. Often, as an aneurysm develops, it forms a neck with an associated dome, or balloon like structure. The larger the balloon becomes, the greater the risk it may burst. You would then bleed into your brain. Each year, for every 100 people with an aneurysm, roughly 1 of them will suffer a rupture.

My dad, baby Mitch & me. Apx. 1982

I am working on obtaining the medical records from the hospital in order to find out exactly which artery was effected. Roger, my uncle, died from a stroke in the back of his head. My father died from a aneurysm in the back of his head. Now I have experience and a past with a stroke in the back of my head. All of my MRI’s show nothing abnormal for me now, but I must make it a point to have scans done regularly for the rest of my life. This will hopefully also influence my other brothers and sister to do the same for themselves and their children.

Recently, I had discussions about the medication my dad was taking. Multiple different kinds for many ailments. Much of what many suffer from today- Blood pressure, diabetes, prostate, cholesterol, & blood thinners. As I do not put the blame on any one thing, I question his Dr. heavily!!! I urge you all to always ask questions to your Dr.s. They are people like us and can make mistakes along the way. Medication is not always the answer. Given my dad’s past, how could he only see a general practitioner? How can one general, non specialist, Dr. prescribe multiple different medications without consulting specialists. My dad had a track record… Always research any medicine given to you and always research as much as you  can on a subject directly effecting you or loved ones. If you find something contradictory, has you guessing or feeling uncomfortable, see another Dr or make calls. Just don’t stop and be content with, “well the Dr. said” so it must be right. Look at me, I have not stopped even though I have credited Dr. at major brain institutions that have moved on.

Dad as a kid in is Hopalong Cassidy Sweater

He was preaching constantly how fatigued he was all the time. Sleeping 12-15 hours a night and napping throughout the day. His memory and consciousness had deteriorated a tad, but enough to tell that he was not the same person I was a custom too. Last week, I researched all his meds for side effects and found that all the ailments he was incurring were possible results from those meds. Of all the information I know regarding strokes, I just didn’t put those symptoms with what was to come. They were all the same, but the medication seemed like the likely culprit. I also looked at the fact he had a mini stroke just weeks before me that would contribute with the black lashes of his current state.

You just always think that your gonna have a next time…

Services will be held at:

Elias Kallal & Schaaf Funeral Home, 1313 Delmar St. Godfrey, IL 62035

The visitation is Thurs. Jan 7th from 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Dad on a horse or pony as a child. One of my favs!

The burial service will be Friday at 10:00 a.m.