Tag Archives: recovery

A Celebration and a Mourning

26 Nov

IMG_5811Yesterday, Chuck and I celebrated the publication of Stroke Happens by gathering with some friends for a book signing at a local tavern—where we met, actually. About 15 or so people showed up with their copies, which Chuck and I signed. I also had everyone sign our copy. Everyone had fun, some musician friends played, and I felt very grateful and humbled by the support. After getting home, my neighbor Lisa came over and we had a few more drinks and sat around the outdoor fire.

But what goes up must come down. At some point, an emotional storm erupted in me. I suppose it was about the past trauma of post-stroke life; but also anxiety about the future. I am petrified I won’t be able to continue to afford living as we have. I’m unemployed and in debt. Two tooth extractions—I haven’t even gotten new teeth but have two gaps where my back molars should be, one on each side—and a replaced HVAC system have put a serious dent in the finances. I struggle monthly to make ends meet and wonder how long I can continue, even as I hope for salvation in the form of a full-time job. (Or huge book sales.)

Normally I practice the teachings of Buddha, about letting go—of past regrets, future worries—but sometimes I am unable to do so. Last night was one of those times. I’m still working on it this morning. Or maybe I should say this mourning, because I am in this situation because of a loss—the loss of the man I married, who was my partner and who could at times take care of me when I needed it, as in today. Now I have to take care of myself, as well as of him. I’m doing the best I can, but it doesn’t always feel like it’s good enough.

Celebration and mourning. One coin, two sides.

 

 

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Coming Soon

25 Oct

After a long hiatus during which I have been engaged in various endeavors, I have decided to turn my attention back to Stroke Happens: A Caretaker’s Memoir, which chronicles the story of my husband’s stroke and my transformation into his caretaker. I am preparing the final draft to publish on Amazon within the next month, after recently realizing that I still want to share our story.

I took a long break from Stroke Happens after I finished the last draft and started trying to find a publisher. I queried at least 30; each time, I got a form rejection letter or no response. Finally, some nice editor actually took the time to write and tell me that, in all likelihood, no one would look at it unless I had a literary agent. I wondered, then, “Why do these publishers have submission guidelines on their websites if they weren’t even going to look at submissions?” (I still don’t have an answer.)

I had grown so frustrated by that time that I put down Stroke Happens and began exploring other creative (and money-making) avenues. I have been growing my dog-training business; writing a series of articles for South Carolina Wildlife Federation; working as a part-time writer for Clemson University; and, of course, continuing to care for my husband.

Although I have always had reservations about self-publishing, I realized I have nothing to prove, having already had a book published: The Chattooga River: A Natural and Cultural History (The History Press 2013, which can be purchased on Amazon). I started revising, yet again, and plan to have it up by November 22.

Stroke Happens will describe the journey of my husband and myself after he suffered a massive stroke in 2007, at the age of 56, and how we coped with the challenges that followed. I hope anyone who reads this blog, especially if you have been affected by stroke, will read it. It is a story of hope, recovery, acceptance, love, friendship, and much more.

Until then, I will be posting on this blog whenever time permits. Stay tuned for further developments! And thank you for reading.

Your Best Resource: Yourself

21 Nov

Your loved one has just suffered a stroke. What should you do? I’ve compiled a list of things I did after the initial crisis passed. I hope it will help anyone else who’s trying to cope with the stroke of a loved one. Keep in mind that this list constitutes my opinions based on my experience as a caretaker. These are things I did or wish I had done.

1. Get the best medical care available. Make sure a neurologist is on staff. Some hospitals don’t have one, believe it or not. If yours does not, transfer your loved one to a hospital that does.

2. Apply for Social Security Disability Income, even if you think your loved one won’t need it. Benefits don’t start until five months after APPLICATION, not the date of disability, with no retro activity.

3. Demand that therapy start as soon as possible. Anticipate therapy after hospitalization and start making calls now; every facility will have a waiting list, and you want to get your loved one on it as soon as possible. Also, do not be afraid to dismiss a therapist you or your loved one doesn’t like, for whatever reason.

4. Research treatment options; don’t depend on the experts to know everything. Find out if any clinical trials are running, or where the best therapy is for specific conditions, such as aphasia.

5. Create an email list of family, friends and colleagues so that you can communicate about your loved one’s condition and ask for help when you need it.

6. Ask for help! People want to help but often don’t know what you want. Tell them, whether it’s food, a ride to the hospital, someone else to visit your loved one so you can take a break, or just a kind word. Caretaking is a grind, and you may be doing it for a long time, so pace yourself.

7. Wallow in self-pity if you must (I did), but try to take care of yourself. Did I mention caretaking is a grind? All the more reason to take care of yourself. Exercise, eat well, don’t overdo alcohol. If you feel depressed, ask your family physician to prescribe meds.

8. Read everything you can get your hands on about stroke: books, magazines, articles, both in print and on line. Look for a future post with a list of books I found helpful.

9. Start a journal in which you can record events, as well as your feelings. In the chaotic aftermath of a stroke, you may forget things, so it helps to write them down. Also, sometimes you might not realize how you’re feeling until you write it down.

10. Anticipate what your loved one will need upon coming home. Ask the therapists what these might be: a handicap ramp; removal of rugs that might cause tripping; shower seat; etc.

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