February 3, 2017 Friday

Chris’s son was on the job today, so all I needed to do was drop him off. No more truck and trailer for me! I dropped him off and left specific instructions for him not to work so hard today and call me before he got tired to come pick him up.

I began to notice that the day after a day of rest he would wake up ‘feeling better’. He wasn’t paying attention to the pattern but I noticed. I began to point it out to him so he would ease off the accelerator a bit. Initially, however, what he heard me saying was for him not to work. That fatalistic hearing, again. I had to drill into him that a balance of work/rest/work/rest was necessary in order to repair and rewire what was lost in the stroke.

His response was always that he needed to work to make money. And my response to that was always you can’t make money if you are dead, which he would shrug off.

Ok, then. I’ll say it.

“There are worse things than being dead. You saw that in the hospital and in the video. You saw that on the 19th as you lay on the bathroom floor without the ability to call to me. How are you going to ‘make money’ like that? How will we live? What will you do then?”

As cruel as it sounds, there are worse things than being dead. I’ve seen it in the posts of my fellow caregivers. The range of stroke damage from completely disabled with a complete change of personality to barely afflicted. It’s bad enough for me now. I feel cheated now and the deficits are minimal and the recovery miraculous. I don’t want to imagine anything more, but that’s what is scaring me now with his attitude.

Keep pushing. Keep ignoring common sense and worse will come to be. And how does a caregiver stay when the survivor blatantly ignores all care advice and causes a second episode?

I began to focus on the choices he made that brought on the stroke, the physical and the metaphysical ones and the fact that we did not want to repeat them. “We don’t want to make the same mistake twice,” I said. This got through to him.

I also co-opted his son. Telling him that Chris is no longer a good judge of his limits. Honestly, though Chris has never been a good judge of his limits. He was always the ‘one more’ man. “Just one more thing” to do before he was done. “I was going to stop but then I just wanted to finish the…..” This was no longer going to work for him, because when he’s tired now, he crashes. He gets irritable, irrational, illogical and ‘done’. He has no more to give and then he still has to get home. I told Jim, Chris’s son, to send him home when he noticed the fatigue.

Chris said that Jim was all over him. Kept asking if he’d called me yet for a ride and if he didn’t then Jim would. It was too late though, I think. Chris had overdone it yesterday despite my being right there and pleading with him. While he planned to work on Saturday, he couldn’t. He had to step away and rest because the full week was just too much for him. Even his project manager said he needs to be working only three days a week.

Chris makes statements like “I can’t believe how fast I get tired.” Chris has never acted nor looked his age; I believe that to be a blessing and a curse. While it has kept him going, it also contributed to the stroke. He never took care of his high blood pressure and ignored other signs we see now were warnings.

I have to keep reminding him that stubborn is not a super power.

He still can’t understand why he gets so tired so fast. If he was a woman who had ever been pregnant he’d understand. Making life takes a lot of energy. A. Lot. Of. Energy. The body’s ability to regenerate is unsurpassed, but it requires rest to do it well. As parents we quickly learn that children sleep a lot during growth spurts. We know that when they are asleep their brains and bones are busy expanding, connecting and regenerating. While we are pregnant we soon learn how quickly fatigue can set in while we are creating life.

Its no different in recovery. Our bodies are regenerating and replenishing. We need to give them ample time to rest so that they can facilitate healing. This is probably where Chris’s impatience shows itself the most. Its at these times I have to remind him how much worse it could’ve been, number one and number two how far he’s come in such a very short time.

Maybe stubborn is a super power after all…


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