Life After A Stroke
What Every Caregiver Should Know
By Nancy Oakes
Caregiving is a voluntary act of love from a person towards a spouse or family member, suffering a type of disability that prevents them from being capable of independent living. Depending on the damage to the brain, and recovery some of us must instantly become banker, housekeeper, nurse, chief cook and bottle washer, while we wait for some normalcy to return to our life.
I was plunged into caregiving when my beloved husband, who at a very early age, had a stroke. Upon extensive testing, the doctors told us that he had suffered an ischemic stroke, and there was a blockage in his neck. Therefore, in order for him to survive he must have immediate surgery. After the surgery for a blocked carotid artery and a few days in the hospital, we were ready to go home. I had no idea, nor did he what was ahead regarding the changes in our lifestyle. Not a single doctor, technician, or discharge nurse gave us any instructions on how to deal with life after a stroke. I recall one nurse who explained it like this, go home and see what happens. She handed me the following article from CDC and said to follow up with our doctors.
Our brains are indeed a magnificent mechanical organ unless damaged. The symptoms and treatment are similar even if due to stroke, dementia, or injury. According to the Centers for Disease Control, every year, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke, 130,000 die. Stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability and is not just a disease of the elderly. About 87% of all strokes are ischemic strokes that are when blood flow to the brain is blocked.
Home We Go, Determined To Get Through This Together.
I realized that it was just not his life change, but mine as well. Further, I lost the man I knew as my husband of 17 years on the day of the stroke. I searched for him for months after his stroke hoping he would one day walk in the back door, announcing “Honey I’m home”, that did not happen. What did happen was a process for me of learning to accept him as he was. There was also no one else to do this job but me, and I was going to do my best.
It’s The Little Things
After my husband’s stroke, he had difficulty talking on the phone especially a cell. He described it as the tones of incoming voices were strangely different, even family members and long time friends. He stated that some people’s voices were almost irritating, and some voices he could barely hear. He also commented that what he heard himself saying was not what he wanted to say.
We decided to use the phone to attempt to rebuild his hearing techniques, and his cognitive skills that had been damaged by the stroke. Also, I was determined to not begin the habit of talking for him or filling in words when he was slow to recall. I asked all our family and friends to be patient and give him time during a conversation to remember words. I also knew from his statements that when he did not articulate well, he heard himself. Therefore he had to do his part in reconstructing what he meant to say.
We eventually began to see an improvement, even though he still struggles slightly he re-trained his brain, and can successfully use the telephone. I laughed when he recently said he had to learn to listen harder.
Too loud, too bright
Live bands, and even the music and chatter from the television upset him. He stated that it was agitating, depending on what music was being played. We gave it a little thought and decided it had to be the pitch or scale of the music. With some investigation, we discovered that indeed Mozart, (and many of the genius of his era, and to follow) created music using the ancient “Solfeggio” scale. This scale was also used by the early church for religious chants. However, modern musical instruments were not tuned to this frequency, especially hip hop, and rap. We also discovered that music therapy is very popular today for mental disorders and even Autism. Therefore, we knew that the brain responds to music its vibrations and frequencies. I believe this type of music helped to heal his brain, obviously it soothed and relaxed him.
Obviously there are many challenges as we struggle through the effects of stroke. However do not lose yourself in the early madness and responsibilities of chores, duties, medicine management and even the reverse of roles within the house. Hire responsible help, or ask a family member to sit in for you as you take a break and go out with a friend. A day at the mall to window shop, a new hairdo, a pedicure or a massage, you will feel rejuvenated.
As my darling reminded me recently, (a line from a famous movie), Life is like a box of chocolates, you get what you came for......well I knew what he meant and we both had a big laugh.
Nancy is the CEO of the “Spiritual Life Style Wellness Center”, currently involved in the study of psychology, and cultural anthropology. Her first book is available on amazon.com The Return of Sophia, Mother of the Universe. Nancy is an ally for the “Third Gender” LGBT communities. When our hearts are filled with love and we embrace all sacred creation humanity will witness the shift to a higher consciousness, and arrive in the new world. You can contact her at her email address firstname.lastname@example.org aboutme.com www.lovetothelight.weebly.com
CDC. Prevalence of stroke — United States, 2006–2010. MMWR. 2012;61(20):379–82.