Dealing with It
The focus of these video excerpts is on the despair and doubts Donald has as a person who has had a stroke, and on his wife's difficulty with seeing her loved one in pain and befuddled. As in part 1, the intent is to show that such feelings are natural.
But just as it is clear in part 1 that Marisol has met the challenges she has faced as a caregiver, Donald - for all that he wishes this hadn't happened - seems to have come to terms with it. He says:
- That he railed against God at one point: "Why did you do this? It doesn't make sense!" but when he asked for a sign, he literally saw a sign saying, "We are here," which made him laugh through his tears. (The message seemed to be: "Why doesn't matter. This is reality. You are not alone.")
- It takes unimaginable energy to do the simplest things – go to the bathroom, eat a meal, go downstairs for a cup of coffee.
- A stroke happens to "both people" in couple relationships. He worries constantly about making it easier on Linda. He worries that he will do something or fail to do something, and she won't come back.
- He feels like a giant millstone, like a creature that eats up others' (especially Linda's) time, energy and more.
- He feels he died in some ways. The person he once was - the one who was independent and took care of others - no longer exists.
Applying the video to your own situation
If you are a person who has had a stroke, think about the feelings Donald expressed:
- Have you had feelings similar to those expressed by Donald? Does it help to know you are not the only one with such thoughts?
- Think about the ways your life changed from what it was before. What specific things do you miss doing? Have you found ways to compensate for these losses? If so, how? (Others would like to know!)
- The fear of abandonment that Donald expresses is common in people who have a serious disability. If you have felt this, have you been able to share and overcome that fear? If so, how?
- Life is all about change, so the person you are as you age (with or without a disability) is different from the person you were at 20. Because he is no longer independent, Donald says that the person he was has died, but each of us is more than a single characteristic. In its own way, a disability can make us stronger, more insightful, more aware of life's gifts. Can you think about ways in which you are perhaps a better person than you were before your stroke?
Adapted from: Stroke: Conversations and Explanations; University of Texas School of Nursing at Houston Center of Aging, Houston, TX
For More on Full Video: www.terranova.org
He railed against God at one point: "Why did you do this? It doesn't make sense!" but when he asked for a sign, he literally saw a sign saying, "We are here," which made him laugh through his tears.