Life After Stroke – The Harsh Realities Part 1
Home sweet home. As mentioned in my previous articles, I had a severe stroke in April, 2011. I stayed at several hospitals for treatment, recovery, and therapies for about 3 weeks. I returned to my home which had some of the adaptive equipment I needed, to take care of my basic, everyday routine, including bars, handles and benches in the bathroom, and other strategic areas around the house. It was good to be home. I didn’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to be poked, and probed or hear the screams of other patients who were uncomfortable.
Post Stroke Fatigue. I tried to do the exercises I learned in my therapies, but because they weren’t scheduled like they were at the Rehab Hospital, I appeared to be slacking off. I would exercise when I wasn’t tired. The bad thing was, I seemed to be tired all the time. Any simple task such as washing dishes, would just leave me mentally drained. My body wasn’t tired, my mind was. Only recently, I found there is a condition where many stroke survivors suffer severe fatigue after suffering a stroke. It just depends on the extent of brain damage that the stroke caused. I was sleeping a lot more than I used to.
WTF? To my wife at that time(we would divorce a few months later), I was unmotivated and lazy. I was doing whatever I could, but it wasn’t enough for her. Because my parents had also equipped their house, so that I could stay there if I was going to be left alone for long periods of time, She told me that I should go live with them. She said the reason was because she didn’t want to see me fail. To this day, I really don’t know what she meant.
I wish I was back in the hospital! I never wanted to be a burden on anybody. My ex-wife’s actions made me feel like I was exactly that, and I was a problem being passed onto someone else. It was very devastating to me. The only place available to me at my parents house, was a sofa-bed in their living room. I had no privacy, and I now know they were only trying to be helpful(and still are), but I was 45 years old, not 10. They tried to do everything for me and needed to know about everything. I found myself wishing that I was back at the Rehab Hospital.
Am I crazy? I was going through all kinds of emotions. I felt abandoned by my ex-wife, I was lonely because I missed my kids, and I was frustrated because of my condition and because my parents were treating me like a little boy. Many people suffer from post-stroke depression, and I was prescribed the anti-depressant, Lexapro. To this day, I maintain that I was never clinically, depressed. I was, and still am more emotional( I bawl uncontrollably during sad movies, commercials, reading sad stories, etc.) if anything. I was mostly frustrated beyond belief with everything that was going on at that time so, I started seeing a post stroke psychiatrist to help me sort all this out.
Time for change. My then- wife attended some of these sessions with me. The doctor and I both noticed there was a lot of anger and animosity coming from her. I’m thinking to myself, ” I’m the one who had the stroke, and I didn’t have it on purpose” With these feelings coming from her, in addition, that things weren’t the greatest before the stroke, I decided I needed to rid myself of this very toxic situation and I filed for divorce. She never brought the kids over to see me anyways, so I figured at least I would be able to, if the courts said so.
Can Somebody save me? While attending an outpatient therapy, I ran into one of the nurses who cared for me at the Rehab Hospital. We started talking, and we hit it off instantly. It felt great to have someone walk by my side, instead of walking a hundred yards ahead of me. Finally, I started to feel like I was “real person again”.
A new beginning. Without going through all the boring legal details, my divorce took several months to finalize. My new relationship was gaining momentum. After the divorce was final, we decided to take a trip to unwind(she also just completed a divorce of her own). She suggested we go as far away as possible, so we booked a cruise to Southeast Asia. Canada was the only foreign country I had been to, so this was very exciting for me. Little did I know that this would start a new chapter in my life……to be continued