A friend of mine has posed some questions to me. She wants to know about stroke aftermath, "Whats normal and what's not etc." I have been thinking about what I can say to her. Unfortunately she and her family have been blind sided by their father having a stroke. I don't know what to tell her because there is so much heart break involved in surviving a stroke, both for the victim and the family. In my opinion everyone is a victim when it comes to a stroke. There are people out there that refuse to be classified as victims and I wish so much that I knew their secret because it has hit every aspect of our lives and sent us spinning out of control. There is no word that describes how I felt when Matt had his stroke. It was a moment that he and I shared. A moment that I never in my life thought that we would have to share but there it was staring me in the face. I looked at him in the ER and asked him what was happening and I'll never forget the way he was trying to answer but couldn't because the words were lost in the trauma that was happening inside his head. I'll never forget watching the side of his face droop and his eyes roll back in his head. It still didn't click with me what was happening until I heard water. I was so confused until I looked down and saw that he had lost complete control of his bladder. At that moment it clicked with me what was happening and I called to the nurse who had just left the room or rather screamed out that he was having a stroke. From there is was complete chaos as they began to work on him to save his life. I stood quietly in the corner in shock watching everything that was happening and I will forever be haunted by this. Matt was life flighted to the University of Utah and this became our home for over a month.
Now for the answer to my friends questions. Unfortunately with strokes there is no normal. It effects people so differently that normal is not something that exists in the world of stroke survival. We have been told that things will wax and wane for Matt and as that happens it does so for the rest of the family as well. After the stroke he was a happy person. He did well with rehab and his behavior toward the family was happy. After a few months he began to get angry. The slightest things would set him off. This is where we sought help through counseling. On an average day Matt gets up and gets to work on the bus. He calls me on all of his breaks so that I know that he is okay. Sometimes he calls twice not knowing that he already called. There are times where he doesn't know what day it is. Matt's short term memory was drastically damaged. Our lives are a constant hunt for keys and work badges and remotes lol. Chances are if Matt picks it up it gets lost. But he functions so much better than the prognosis he was given. We are very blessed. Matt is still able to do his job because that is long term memory. It is easier for him to be at work than at home and although that is a hard pill for me to swallow, I understand. I cannot speak for Matt but I do know his life is very frustrating. He does not talk much about how he feels about the stroke. For me it is a monster that rears its ugly head daily. Counseling and medication make my days bearable. I worry about him constantly. The smallest thing can bring back memories that break my heart over and over again. So I don't know what to tell my sweet friend. There is no normal and not normal. There is just what there is left after the stroke. You have to get to know them all over again. You have to be pliable and forgiving. You have to release your anger and hatred of that monster stroke into the universe because there is no one to be mad at. You cant be mad at the survivor and being mad at God will get you nowhere very fast. I realize that my friend is looking for different kinds of answers. She wants to know what is neurologically normal and what behaviors to look for. I have read so much and studied up on so much so I can give her those answers but for me the word STROKE holds so much emotion that each time I hear it I either want to curl into a ball and cry or scream at the universe and give it the finger. Neither gets you anywhere but it happens whether I want it to or not. I cannot watch a movie without it affecting me. I cannot go a day without the aftermath of what happened to us. Because of this stroke all of us are damaged in our own ways but we are re-building and dammit that make us BRAVE.