My wife, Christy, had a stroke in 2005 at the age of 31. When asked to write a piece for the ‘Life After Stroke’ newsletter describing my ‘top 10 lessons learned’ as a caregiver, I was stumped. How does one distill lessons learned from a change that dramatic – and in only ten bullets? So after giving it some time and thought … here are my eleven lessons.
- 10. I first learned that I would not wish this on my worst enemy!
- 9. I then learned more about brain anatomy and human physiology in the first few days post-stroke than in all my years in undergraduate science lectures.
- 8. I learned that, unlike what the medical community often espouses, recovery continues long after the first six months post-stroke.
- 7. I continue to learn how to accept help when it is offered and to ask for it when I need it.
- 6. I have learned the importance of remembering to take time for myself – an exhausted caregiver is no help to anyone.
- 5. I have learned that there is always a more inspiring ‘human-spirit-overcoming-adversity’ story than
- your own.
- 4. I have learned to enjoy the moment (aka “Plan B… what’s that?”).
- 3. I have learned that a sense of humour helps to lighten the often ridiculously difficult load (sub-lesson: that stroke related ‘dark’ humour is hilarious)!
- 2. I have learned that a positive attitude is a choice. I have also learned that making that choice every day makes all the difference.
- 1. I have learned that it is important to embrace your new life – who knew that a life-altering disaster could be so uplifting and enlightening?
Looking back on it, having somebody there to teach these lessons rather than stumble into them as I tried to find my new footing as a caregiver would have been a big help. The eleventh lesson I’m now learning is that helping newly initiated caregivers get through the early stages of recovery is part of my own healing process.
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Sean also sent us these links to articles about his wife Christy’s recovery:
Teresa Goff wrote the article for TREK and the award winning radio broadcast about aphasia referenced in the piece and attached link below. I encourage you to listen to it.