You wouldn’t think this was a difficult question to answer, but lately it is. Reciently my husband had a minor stoke. this required him to be hospitalized for 21 days. First as a patient in one hospital then as a patient in another for rehabilitation.
First there was the fear of the actual stoke. Since my husband had previously had a stroke I recognized what was going on. And just saying the word stroke evokes images of disability and possible death. At the hospital we encountered a doctor who should not be practicing medicine. He said that my husband was faking his symptoms. To say I was enraged would be an understatement. Then this same doctor recommended a powerful and dangerous clot busting drug. Which added to my worry. Once the medication was administered my husband’s condition improved almost instantly, but not completely. I felt a bit of relief as I watched this drug work it’s wonders with only the slightest amount of bleeding from my husband’s nose. This was quickly controlled.
My husband was then admitted to the intensive care unit and I was relived not to deal with doctor egomaniac jerk (not the words I’d like to use but they will have to do for now). We were treated with wonderful care by the admitting nurse and others in ICU. So the normal fear of even the term ICU was somewhat relieved. Now leaving was a different issue. I’m not good at not being in control and I was completely out of control of the situation. I knew my husband was receiving excellent care but my heart was breaking. So I came home to try to comfort my eldest and we just had a good cry. Crying is very cathartic but sleep was less than restful sleep. The next morning I went over to see how my guy was doing. After seeing continued improvement I allowed myself to relax some and fielded many calls from family and friends. We settled into a less than comfortable stay in intensive care. Then moved into a regular room. Then anger came back, and with a vengeance, the same doctor who had claimed my husband was faking once again showed his face in my husbands room. He was downright abusive and had I been there it would have resulted in a full on assault on someone who doesn’t deserve the title of doctor. This anger was channeled to an underling who was made to understand in no uncertain terms that if this doctor was allowed into my husbands vicinity there would be formal consequences. This was done firmly and confidently. You see 17 years of special needs parenting does give one a grip on their rights and the way to get their child’s needs met. A sense of accomplishment followed when a second neurologist was called and confirmed the fact that we were right all along.
An odd sense of relief was next as my hubby was transferred to the rehabilitation floor of another hospital. It is actually a hospital in the same system as the first and is a short ambulance drive away. My husband had been a patient on this floor before and we knew how professional and caring these folks are. So life settled into our new routine. One would think that I could relax and adapt to this new normal, but I never did. So many emotions again hit. There was of course relief that he was getting such intensive care, but pain as I watched him struggle to do simple things. He was able to speak but it was difficult and not very clear. That was frustrating for him and hard for me to watch. Then there was joy at each step of improvement. Short conversations with me and with others grew longer and clearer. Halting difficult steps were replaced by stronger steps, and fine motor skills slowly came back. Then there was a since of compassion for those who were also patients and a commendatory with other families. There was also a genuine fondness that grew toward therapists, and genuine stress relieving laughter with one, who knew how to make you feel like you were her most important patient. She truly was a warm ray of sunshine on cloudy days. But there was also the deep pain of leaving my love there in the hospital everyday. I believe marriage should be two hearts that beat as one, so connected that you feel the others hurts as well as their joys. So every night I left part of my heart with him.
So now we are home. There will be still more recovery, more therapy, I will continue to help my beloved get better. So how am I now….better. But will I ever be the same? My heart bears scars and hurts. It is also filled with gratitude and it too is healing. As a person of faith I see how God has strengthened me and sustained me. So my faith is stronger. I am indeed blessed by the best family ever and the best church family ever. Do not ever think a prayer, or a kind word is wasted. They are truly soothing and strengthening for those they are given to.
So what now, why do I write? To let you all know that feelings are real, powerful and sometimes almost disabling. But they are valid and no one should ever be made to feel guilty for what they feel. They also need to be expressed, and hopefully understood. Too often people want to fix the problem not just be good listeners. When we have the freedom to express our feelings they loose a lot of power over us. So I challenge each of us, myself included to listen with our hearts, feel with the person. Sometimes it takes walking the same road or something similar, sometimes it just takes focusing on the person. It can be hard and it can be painful, but you will give a gift that is worth more than gold. To those who have given this gift, those who wouldn’t let me get by with an “I’m fine” when they knew better, I say thank you, from the bottom of my heart. It is my hope that you find kindred hearts when you walk a hard road.
So tell me “how are you?”