A Caregiver's Story
Caregiver & Family
This is a story of how our lives changed since my husband's stroke.
Life is what happens when we make plans. We all have heard that expression before, but for us, we had no idea of what it would mean in our lives. In June of 2006, Larry and I set out for the southwest to retire and embark on a new chapter in our marriage.
After selling a home in Illinois, we moved to Arizona to be near a daughter and son-in-law who lived there. We envisioned traveling and enjoying life at a new, more relaxed pace. We hoped to begin a new ministry: working with a charitable organization. While it was not going to be easy to say goodbye to family in the Midwest, we were excited by the new journey that would soon unfold.
On June 13, our lives changed as we had once known it. Larry collapsed in front of the house we had just purchased. Within minutes, an emergency team was checking his vitals and driving him to a local hospital for further medical assistance. At the exam in the emergency room, it was determined that he had a stroke. He was given tPA (a clot-buster drug), but because this new hospital had only been open for 12 days, he was air-lifted to a nearby medical stroke center more than 30 miles away.
Larry was "lucky" indeed. Even though the stroke paralyzed the right side of his body and affected his speech, many good things were in his favor: he was not alone when he had the stroke, he had wonderful emergency care and he was given that tPA shot to help break up the clot, which would later aid in his recovery.
He had excellent rehab care for six weeks and was given more outpatient therapy upon coming home. He maintained a good, positive attitude throughout this life-altering event. Larry never lost his deep faith and sense of humor. With his family and friends to support him, he made progress, baby steps at a time.
Each day, Larry would say out loud, "If it never gets better than this, I'll be okay," but it did get better because of his discipline and determination to improve. Seven weeks later, I brought Larry home in a wheelchair. Today, he walks with the aid of a cane and leg brace. His speech is clear and expressive. He continues to work out regularly at our local YMCA, where he uses machines to maintain his strength and stamina.
In addition to the physical recovery he is still undergoing, we also belong to a stroke support group to aid with the emotional recovery of the stroke. We have made strong friendships with good, caring people. It is here we continue to remember how to laugh and go on despite physical challenges and new lifestyles resulting from a stroke. Because of the safety the group environment affords us, both survivors and caregivers freely encourage and vent at our meetings. One of the best things about our monthly get-together is we all know that what we share remains confidential. Additionally, our facilitator is open to our suggestions of having guest speakers and study groups come in and help meet our changing needs.
Larry remains lucky to be able to enjoy retirement by volunteering his time and talents within the community, at the Library and at church. He is a good role model to all of us who know and love him. He prays daily, makes friends and keeps a good attitude.
While our life is not the independent, easy going life we had planned, life is good. Larry reminds me daily, "how lucky can one man be?" Indeed!
Submitted by Teri Bobko