One of the most distressing things for me after returning home from the hospital after my stroke was that my youngest daughter was afraid to be home alone with me as the only adult. Eventually I got over the emotional shock and was able to see it from her point of view – Not that she was afraid of me or her own safety but she was afraid that if something happened to me, she wouldn’t know what to do. She didn’t want to get into a situation where I needed urgent help and she couldn’t do what I needed.
What was needed was to give Julia the confidence that she could successfully get through an emergency without further scaring her about my health or just the likelihood of something bad happening to her. So I approached the conversation as an educational opportunity teaching her how to deal with unexpected emergencies in general and including health events such as my stroke as just another type of unexpected event that she might experience and that she is capable of dealing with it successfully.
Even if you feel that you know enough about emergency preparedness and the emotional strength of your child to be able to wing it, it is a good idea to write an outline beforehand of the points you want to be sure to cover and how you want to express them. Having such a cheat-sheet in hand lets you focus on the conversation and how your child is reacting instead of the details themselves.
Having this kind of conversation with my daughter was/is an excellent way to help her survive any disaster intact and emotionally healthy. I’m kicking myself now that I never thought of having such a conversation with Julia (or my other children) before. My experience with Julia has been a slap upside the head that as a parent that I should have been teaching and preparing my kids to be able to handle emergencies and other unexpected events. You can learn from my example and give your children the knowledge and confidence to survive and deal with unexpected events such as natural disasters and medical emergencies that could happen to anyone (even you.)
When I was younger, I used to scuff at people who waxed on about how psychotherapy and their shrink have turned their life around. But now that I’m trying to put myself back together after a stroke, I have come to appreciate how a shrink can help us fix very painful stuff both inside our heads and outside ourselves, with people in our lives and stuff that happens.
I’ve noticed before that I often drag myself home from my sessions with my shrink Ninette, so drained that I don’t have even the energy to rise from my recliner. But during today’s session I actually noticed when I ran into difficulty and how it made me feel. (Not good.) After more than 3 years of rehab, I shouldn’t be surprised at how much energy our brain uses when it has to work hard, whether it’s cognitive rehab or emotional rehab.
Today’s topic was a recurrent theme, communication difficulties with my wife. While I was focusing on how my wife had misguided me about she had agreed to, Ninette was noticing what Kathy had been trying to accomplish, why she went about it that way and what I could try doing so that Kathy would be more likely to communicate forthrightly. When I kicked back into the present, Ninette identified reasons why I might have acted emotionally during the conversation with Kathy. And that pushed me into the minefield that’s my emotional self right now.
So, you can scuff at me now, but I have to say that Ninette has been instrumental in helping put myself back together even better than before. And while we’ve been working on me, we’ve also worked quite a bit on my relationships, especially with those close to me. Maybe with Ninette’s help, I’ll be able to heal the damaged relationships with my wife and middle daughter.
Your last day of rehab is an emotional time when you get to look back on how far you’ve improved and thank everyone for their help and support. It’s a great milestone in your recovery and you should savor everything about this event.
But it’s important that when you walk out of the clinic, you’ve got the stuff you need to be able to go forward on your own. After your discharge, you won’t be around the clinic or your therapists, so you won’t have access to all the incidental resources that come with therapy that you may not even realize you can access! Mostly, it’s information that you need to glean from your therapists, but there is also an array of aids, equipment and other materials that the therapists have at hand for your therapy that is not so easy to locate and acquire in the real world.
- Contact info for your therapist(s): preferably personal, not thru the clinic. (Therapists move from clinic to clinic & clinics may come & go.
- Contact info for the clinic.
- Contact info for doctor who supervised your rehab: It’s useful to know someone who specializes in head trauma & rehab after brain injury should you have any questions or concerns in the future.
- Contact info for local stroke support group.
- Samples of aids & other equipment & materials: That’s how I learned about Dycem sheets that will hold stuff to a flat surface. Really helpful for opening containers of all kinds and being able to hold things in place when you would normally use a second hand.
- Catalogs with products for Rehab therapists and clinics: Maybe I’m visually oriented put sometimes seeing pictures of stuff gives me a better idea of what it does. And having a catalog, you can just flip through it and find things even if you don’t know what they’re called.
- URLs for places that sell stuff that would help.
- URLs for websites that the therapist finds useful or worthwhile.
- A plan for continuing independent rehab.
After failing my evaluation with the driving instructor in September, I decided to take a break from working on my cognition and instead focus for a while on improving my fitness. I figured that it would still help getting back to driving in a couple of ways and also move me forward on other goals.
It’s getting to the end of January and my short-term goal is being able to get out and about on mass transit so I’m not as dependent on Kathy as chauffeur and I can enjoy a little more independence. The problem is that it’s a 6 block walk between home and the bus stop so I have to be able to hump that in addition to anything else I want to do while I’m out.
This week the reward for hard work was lunch today in San Francisco to celebrate my friend Flora’s birthday. The adventure was taking the bus and BART on my own into the city for the first time since the stroke.
To increase my walking range more, I need to improve the movement of my left knee and foot so that my gait is more natural and I reduce the strain on my left hip and right leg. another benefit will be an increase in my pace.
Next week, I’ll add a knee to chest exercise in addition to the leg extensions and foot raises that I’ve been doing. At the end of the week, I’ll re-evaluate my progress in regard to getting back on a bike; see if I need to add any other exercises and how long I need to work before starting on the stationary bikes at the rehab gym.
Our cat Flower passed away Sunday.
She wasn’t an easy cat to see face to face, much less love. But she’s been a member of our family for fourteen years and we are all heartbroken that she’s not with us any more.
The lesson at church Sunday discussed how we don’t see everything in someone’s life, so we can’t judge whether their death was a tragedy or a blessing. And we certainly can’t see beyond the veil to know what their circumstances are in the spirit world justify their passing to it at this time. But we still grieve for our loss and the loss of potential that death involves.
I don’t know if cats go to “heaven” but I know that Flower was kind and loving to her family. So if anyone deserves to live with Heavenly Father, I think it would be Flower. I can picture her curled up under His throne, purring as He pets her while attending to His business.
I’ve decided that I’m going to pray for what I need and want in life. I’m going to pray for everything and everyone. I’m going to pray so much that God is going to get tired of my continual supplication. And by praying, I want to bring about these things and focus myself on creating them or making them happen.
I joined the lds church last June and most members are enthusiastic pray-ers. They will pray about just about anything and for just about everyone. They believe that Heavenly Father (God) hears all prayers and answers them and that He knows each of us “by name”, “individually” and “personally”. That may very well be true but my problem is when they anthropomorphise God, it gets in the way of understanding what prayer is about. (Maybe that isn’t really too far off if we’re all children of God or part of the “great consciousness”. Maybe Jesus was trying to teach how we can all be creators just like him and Heavenly Father.) prayer is not just another conversation like you have with your next door neighbor over the fence while pruning the roses.
A prayer is your focused effort to make something by conscious will. It’s like a formal method of working the law of attraction. Of course, now I’ve annoyed all those pray-ers by equating their faith with new age hokum… But at some level, both the pray-ers and the law of attraction folks are saying to do the same thing – think about what you want to happen so that God or whatever powers the universe can make it come about.
Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I would like my life to be if I could change it. My life isn’t very satisfying right now. It’s not that I don’t have people who love and care for me, I do. It’s not that I’m financially strapped, my wife makes a good living.
It’s actually very scary to think about what I truly want. I worry whether it will be as good as I visualize it. I worry whether I’ll end up alone or, even worse, living with someone that I don’t care for (enough.)
But I’m not who I want to be and I’m not doing what I want to be doing. A lot of my current situation is due to the stroke. But not all of it. And in some ways, the stroke has clarified how the current direction of my life is deviating from what I sense is my true direction.
It’s not like I made some huge decision at some point and my path veered dramatically off-course. It’s more like it’s a result of many small decisions and non-decisions that over time changed my life. Unfortunately, now I have to deal with the cumulative effect of those decisions and struggle to get my course headed in the right direction again.
Many of those places (and people) will take time to reach and I don’t know if it’s already too late to try for them. I don’t know what it will be like if I ever arrive and how the natives will react.
One of the lessons from Richard Bach’s Bridge Across Forever” is that you can’t search for a soulmate; you have to do what you love and they’ll be attracted to that. One of my problems is that right now I can’t do what I love to do so I don’t know how I’ll attract anyone compatible, much less my soulmate. That’s frustrating for me and my need for instant gratification.
The last couple of weeks, we’ve been discussing what 2012 portends for us and how incredible 2011 was for me.
With significant life changes looming for me in 2012 and alll of the good things that happened in 2011, I am a little apprehensive about what’s in store this year. I don’t know how it could top last year and I certainly don’t want to think about how disastrous any of those life changes could be for me.
So, how do you embrace the new year and wish everyone a happy new year when you don’t know how any year could be better than the last year?