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.
If you’d like to respond to Sean’s article please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.