February 16, 2017, Thursday
I was supposed to drive Chris to work today, but last night I began to feel ill and today was full on flu. Chris planned to drive himself, first time, but when he got up he said he didn’t feel up to driving, so he stayed home.
Chris is very specific with his language and yet vague at the same time. He never said he didn’t feel well. He said he didn’t feel up to it. I took that to mean he was getting the same flu. Later conversations, however, would reveal something new.
Since the stroke he has said that he doesn’t feel hunger like he used to. That it doesn’t feel the same, and thus he doesn’t know when he is hungry, or thirsty or full for that matter. He doesn’t know what it is that he is feeling. He never developed any other symptoms like I did today, so now we don’t know what it is he felt this morning. He did not have the flu though.
I am glad he is at least honoring his body by listening to it. If he didn’t feel up to driving then he didn’t feel up to it, that’s just fine with me.
Another ‘stroke side effect’ that has sort of become ever more present is in the evening/nights, when he’s tired, he is quick to anger and is completely irrational. He can get disproportionately irritated by the smallest things; the dogs barking, the sheets on upside down. It presents as frustration over what doesn’t make sense to him, but then it escalates into a disproportionate response. I get so mad and hurt then. I am doing so much and he blows up?
Last night I had to tell myself that is the stroke, not him and it worked to keep my feelings in check, but I’d like to find a way to keep his in check. I know it is hard because he doesn’t have the words to express what he’s feeling. To him it is like he’s feeling it for the first time. Not to belittle him in anyway, but I have to think back to when my daughter was an infant and had no words for her experiences. What did she do? Cry, yell, get mad, so yah Chris’ reaction makes sense.
If I can think like that, validate his experience and talk him off the ledge things go better. At least there isn’t a blow up or melt down, just a little tension for a minute or two.
Of course none of this evaporates when I’m sick, right? So, I have to be on my toes even when I’m flat on my back.
They say alcoholism is a family disease and it is very true. It needs to be recognized that the stroke (a brain attack) is a family event too. Just like alcohol changes an alcoholic’s behavior and personality, which then affects the family dynamics, so too does the stroke.
We are experiencing two sides of the same event. A little ‘through the looking glass’ kind of feel. He is stuck on the inside, where things are backwards and I am on the opposite side trying to make sense of the side I can’t really see into all while trying to translate his new world for him.
Geez, no wonder I sleep more now.
If he can’t discern if he’s hungry, full, thirsty etc. what else can’t he discern? How would he even know he can’t discern it? How would I know? Could this be the cause of some of the irritation? Asking for something and then having it not be what he thought he needed?
Thus far his work quality seems unaffected. While he says it takes more concentration and time to do what he’s been doing all his life, his work product is the same based on other’s assessments. It just takes him longer, but for someone who’s nickname is “Mr. Rushypants” that’s probably a good thing.
That image of him being on one side of the mirror and I on the other, is really sticking with me. What we see of the other’s experience is backwards from our own.
One day I believe we will look back and realize he’s walked back through the looking glass and we are better for the trip.