In February of 2016 my husband had a stroke.
He spent 3 days in Hospital and another month in a Rehab to help him get back on his feet (literally) There is a Blood clot on the brain that cannot be operated on and his left Carotid artery is 100% damaged. He had speech problems and could not swallow properly. The biggest fear was that he would swallow food and it landing in his lungs. Daily physiotherapy to help him regain his feet and speech was tough but from day 3 he had become obstinate about the way things needed to be done. He point blank refused any medical staff helping him to bath or dress, I had to do that for him which meant I had to get into the shower with him, wash him, dry him, dress him and get him back to bed. The drooling and not knowing that his food had slipped from his mouth was embarrassing for him. He constantly wiped away at his face but always on the wrongs side. Food would leak out the left and he would wipe the right hand side over and over. He started making foolish decisions and made remarks that was completely out of Character for him. He has always been an extremely proud man. Always very particular about his Hygiene but things would slowly change.
It has now been almost 10 months since the Stroke and I have become his permanent babysitter. He has become cynical, rude, critical, short tempered,depressed at times and very lethargic. There are times when he just stays in his room all day long. He mumbles, calls everyone in the house names and nothing anyone does is ever right. If things are not done his way he sulks for days. Policies had been changed, money has become a HUGE issue to the point of waiting days after payment dates had come and gone before making them. He decides what to buy for dinner for the day. (Mostly bland stews) He has made up his mind that certain foods will make him sick and refuses to eat any of it. His diet has become almost grey. Meat (Mostly chicken or beef), Potato’s, Rice and Butter beans. Vegetables are disgusting. His favourite cereal has become Nutrilife mixed with Yogurt (YUCK). My food always gets either criticised or simply pushed aside. He has developed a sweet tooth like never before.
He hates the fact that he should not drive to the point that he sold his motorbike. a very touchy subject as this was his pride and joy. He either washes the cars, polishes it for hours or just starts the cars and reverses them around the Yard. Now and then he takes the chance to drive to Town but the nerves and anxiety gets the better of him and he hands over the keys without saying anything. If you want him to explode you must say the words, “May not drive.” He goes apeshit. “No doctor wrote a letter anywhere to say as much. I will Drive if I want to.”
I have become fairly housebound as he does not entertain the idea of me going anywhere by myself. Most days are spent indoors. I have to make sure there is someone home with him before I can leave or at least be on their way home soon. I realise it may be fear of something happening to him again and that no one is home but he would never admit this or say it out loud. He cannot understand that I do things differently to him. He does not like my friends coming over and as I have a large Social media circle of friends who I see and meet up with on a regular basis it has become an escape for me. Whether it is for one hour or three hours, it just gives me a bit of balance again. I miss seeing my friends and hate when I have to lie or make excuses for not being able to meet up with them. I have slowly but surely felt the separation and am not being invited to functions with them anymore. I spend almost half my day in front of my Pc now (which is also a problem) as there is just no Communication between us that would not turn nasty or into a mudslinging of words. My Pc has become my retreat. My place of connecting with a voiceless crowd. As he has the ability to use an i-pad with a stylis pen. He also goes onto social media and I have to be very careful and mindful of the things I post. He sees and reads everything but never ever makes any comments. I am constantly told not to post this or post that. Say this or say that. I get questioned about who I am friends with. I just don’t have the energy to argue with him over my cyber activities. It ranges from sharing Pages, Groups, Blogs, articles and running a Chat group for our local Community that I am very involved in.
Hygiene and time has become his enemy. He waits a few days before taking a shower but his hair (Long curly hair) needs to be brushed and plaited every day. He has gone from wearing stylish matching clothes to Sweatpants ( 4 sizes to big) , mis-shaped t-shirts and Crocs. Whenever we need to be at an event and I know it starts at say 7pm, I would have to tell him that it starts at 6pm in order for him to get ready on time. He will still start getting dressed at 5min to 6 and we would leave at 6:30pm. I dare not hurry him or he will simply have a blowout and stay home.
Almost every single house chore has been taken over as I suddenly have no clue how to clean or use appliances. Instead of letting it get to me I walk away and leave him to do it. It does not get done without a bit of lip from him and the trend is always negative but it gets done his way and gives him the satisfaction that he had done it.
His Obsession has become the daily newspaper and his TV. Once he takes the Remote no one dares change the Channel. It is always Sport. Bike races, Car Races, Cricket and Rugby. The newspaper gets read from first to last word and discarded on the floor. Not folded, chucked. It heaps up and gets left everywhere. His medication has grown from one container to four. We never travel without his Nebulizer. Seldom necessary anymore but it goes wherever we go. Medication boxes does not get thrown away as it needs to be kept for the next prescription. His bedside table looks like a dumpster had been overturned as he keeps everything and everything on it. Hairbrushes, cell phones, I pad, Books, Invoices and Statements, Car Papers, Wallet, knife, tools, pills and whatever else he may need next to him. Do not try and clear anything as that would upset him and start another war. There is also a constant pile of Paper Towel balls that has been used to wipe the side of his mouth. The bin is near enough to discard it but for some reason they get placed on top of the pile.
Anyone who lives with a person who has had a stroke will testify to the fact that things has become the complete opposite of life as we knew it. Everyday brings a new challenge.