Stroke, the Lightning Bolt in Life
By Fritz Weiss
More than four years ago Phyllis and I just returned from a wonderful vacation in Colorado where our son Justin got engaged. Coming home from vacation was the usual unpacking and getting the house in order. We went to bed expecting to wake up to the normal routine of getting ready for work.
I was awakened around 3:30 am by Phyllis thrashing with her left arm trying to wake me and with the look of fear on her face not being able to speak. Her right side was immobile and I tried to get her to speak and sit up but to no avail. I then called 911 where she was taken to a hospital and the ER doctor determined that Phyllis suffered a stroke. This was like a lighting bolt, you know about the danger, what it can do and its devastation is immediate when it strikes. All the what if’s started to flood my mind. Family and friends gathered immediately yet I still felt overwhelmed.
Phyllis and I have a deep abiding faith and that was paramount in the way we approached the emotional and physical healing to start the reconstruction of our lives from this horrible Lightning Bolt that is Stroke.
Care giving is never expected, but always arrives unannounced so what will you do?
Here are a few basics things that you can do.
Take inventory of your strengths and weaknesses .What can you do and where do you need help. Be flexible and willing to learn and change.
Information is critical so ask questions. What type of stroke was it? Ask medical professionals who do the evaluations the type of therapy that will work best and how much time wills it take? Get the best and worst case medical scenarios for the stroke survivor? What are the attainable expectations and goals for the both of you? Ask lots of questions and don’t be afraid to ask why if you don’t understand and it doesn’t sound reasonable.
The stroke survivors change is immediate, yours is not. You’re not a super hero. Your change will be slower because you have to adapt (flexibility) to the “new normal”.
Caregiver support information is readily available through a whole host of resources. SSEEO, hospitals, social workers and the internet are just a few sources for information.
MOST IMPORTANT…CAREGIVER TAKE CARE OF YOUR SELF! In the intense world of care giving you do need to take periods of rest and physical activity. Attending support groups can also lower feelings of frustrations and being alone. If you don’t take care for yourself, then who will?
That Lightning Bolt that was Stroke changed our lives to a “new normal” and Phyllis says, "Don't look back at what you used to do but celebrate what you can accomplish today no matter how small".
SSEEO has given Phyllis and I opportunities to help others along their stroke journey to find a “new normal”….Phyllis as a stroke survivor and I as a caregiver. As we become more involved with SSEEO it becomes clear that we both have a different role to play and yet with same the goal - helping people through a very difficult time and encouraging them to never give up.
Stroke did not win. We still laugh a lot, cry sometimes and also have our moments. Because of our deep abiding faith, stroke has made us stronger, our life is sweeter, our love deeper and more than ever our cherished times treasured.