On October 3rd, 2016, my 36-year-old husband had a stroke. You may have read my previous article about the entire experience. If you haven’t, you might want to start there before diving into this one. Here’s the link: http://blog.mabelslabels.com/my-healthy-husband-had-a-stroke-at-36-years-old/
So, it’s been just over 6 months since the stroke, and we’ve had a lot of ups and downs.
When you have a stroke, there are MANY changes and challenges that follow during recovery. But when you have a stroke at only 36 years old and you have young children…those challenges can be tough to accept. Your children expect you to be the same as you were before. They don’t understand that something significant and life-changing happened to their Dad. Sure, they know he had a stroke, but they won’t fully understand the severity of that until they’re older.
Now, we consider ourselves VERY lucky that there aren’t more severe issues post-stroke. Whenever he’s having a hard day, I remind him how much worse it could have been. I know people who had a stroke and now have major speech and mobility issues. I even have a couple family members who have died from a stroke. And while we aren’t dealing with what we consider MAJOR issues, there are still daily struggles.
- Exhaustion – This has been his biggest struggle. It gets better each day, but near the beginning of his recovery, there is no way he would have made it through the day without a nap. Maybe two. He still gets really tired if he’s done too much the day before – physically or mentally. It’s apparently very common and is referred to as ‘post-stroke fatigue’. It can be hard for the kids to understand why Daddy gets so tired so quickly, but they’ve been good about it. We hope it continues to get better as time goes on.
- Communication – Overall, his communication is pretty good all things considered. If you didn’t know him, you probably wouldn’t notice. But sometimes – usually when he’s tired – he mixes up words, or has trouble completely understanding what people are saying to him. Again, this has greatly improved in the past 6 months, but he still has his moments.
- Pain – Headaches, shoulder aches – it’s a daily thing. Some days are better than others, but he usually has some kind of pain every day. We’re told this should improve as the months go on, but sometimes it doesn’t.
Surprisingly enough, some positives have come out of all of this too. I know that sounds strange, but it’s true. Sometimes we laugh at how it took a stroke to realize what REALLY matters to us and what doesn’t.
- He Works Less – Some might see this as a negative when it comes to the financial side of things, but we don’t see it that way. Keeping him healthy is our number one priority. As I mentioned above, he hasn’t been able to handle as much mentally and physically since the stroke, so we decided having him work less makes the most sense for us. He’s able to handle it, we have more family time, and we’re happier! Did we have to adjust our budget and our spending? Of course! But it’s well worth it if it means he stays healthy.
- Priorities – After a life changing experience, your priorities shift. How could they not?! Some of the things we may have thought were important to us a year ago, just don’t seem as important anymore. We have a whole new outlook on what we want out of life, what we want for our family, and what we need to achieve these things. It’s actually been quite refreshing.
- Healthier – Something like this makes you take a good long hard look at your lifestyle. High blood pressure runs in his family and obviously, you can’t change genetics. So, we took a look at the things we CAN change. Diet and exercise are two things we have control over. So, while we were pretty healthy eaters and moderately active before, we’ve now put more of a focus on both of those things. We snack less at night, we exercise more. It’s made us happier, it sets a good example for our children, and ultimately…it’ll make us much healthier too!
Overall, his recovery is going very well. Some days are harder than others, but that’s to be expected. If this is our new normal, we’re completely okay with that.
In my previous article, I said our new family motto is “Stress Less. Laugh More”. And I must say, we’ve been doing just that…and we will continue to do so. I hope you do too.