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graphic: Martha G. Brady

I’m sorry I haven’t kept up with my routine writing here. I try to get in 3-4 posts a week. I haven’t done that since the end of April. Life has changed. We had a short hospital stay with Ron’s stroke, then 2 weeks in rehab. It is now almost 2 months since the stroke. There is a 3 month window when huge change happens. Then a 6 month window when there is a lot of change as well. After one year, we will have an idea of what the end result of his stroke is.

Therapies: knowing the difference

I think today will be his last day of outpatient physical therapy. Then we will be down to 2 out patient therapies…speech and occupational. I’m not sad to have less therapies to drive to!

The part of speech therapy he needs is help with is higher thinking, organizing and prioritizing his thinking, etc. His actual speaking of words is fine.

As for occupational therapy. If you are like I was before I worked in rehab, you may be thinking of people who are doing crafts. Their primary job is to help people be able to do their activities of daily living. In the hospital, that means being sure they can take a shower, get dressed and take care of themselves as independently as possible. They also work with physical therapy to help people do fun things to exercise muscles that need it.

Ron has been able to do that pretty well almost from the beginning. For him, working with OT means developing a strict schedule to go by that is supposed to kick start the affected part of his brain…maybe, after 6 months or so of sticking with it.

The effect of the stroke is that the desire to change is not there for him, the realization that there is a problem is not really there, and even the links that help him feel the desire to have a schedule are not there.  All the motivation has to come from the outside for now.

The only motivation for him at the moment is his desire to drive again. Fortunately, this is foundational to that goal!

The tight schedule is supposed to help him have something outside himself…and me, for accountability. Of course, our trip last week didn’t help with the schedule. It did help with waking up. We had to wake up an hour earlier than our schedule!

Now we’re home. Back into the saddle!

The outcome of a stroke depends on where in the brain it occurred as well as other health issues

I know many who have had strokes or whose spouses have had strokes wish they were doing this well! I’m so not here to complain. Just telling you the situation.

He looks fine. If you talk to him briefly, you might not know anything ever happened. If you make an appointment with him that isn’t in writing, it will not be kept! He will not remember it long enough to tell me.

Changes after a stroke will be affected by what your spouse did before as well as what you did

So…I’m learning to do the finances. I’ve never understood his way. My CPA daughter set out a way for me to do it a couple weeks ago that will pay the bills and show the categories bills are paid with about an hour or less a week involved. It is much less cumbersome and covers all the bases.

I am driving us to everything and doing every errand. I was spoiled. Before, we split the errands. Life was easy. It’s more complicated now…in some ways.

How to help your friends who are sick or caretaking

If you think of us and your friends who have sick spouses, pray for them. Pray for patience for the sick/recovering person and the caretaking spouse…and strength and energy for them as well. You love your spouse but some days you get tired.

In my case, I don’t have to do much physical care of Ron. It’s more mental. He has to care for himself. I just have to be sure he is doing it! He has to take his meds. He has to get his meds set up for the week…I just have to be sure it is done right.

You know the expression “It’s easier to do it myself!”? Well, it is.  But it is not best for him.

That’s often the way it is for many caretakers. As you pray for them, ask GOD to open your eyes to ways you can encourage them in practical ways. It will be different for different people. There is no cookie cutter way to do it.