In March of 2011 the bottom fell out of my world.
It isn’t that my life was so idyllic before then, after all, I am a third culture kid, who spent middle school and high school in boarding school in Kenya, came back to the states for a round of severe culture shock, followed by years of agonizing that I would never get married. When I did get married, it was to a man not too far removed from a difficult marriage who had custody of two children who were less than overjoyed to see me enter their lives. I added three children of my own in rapid succession, one of which has a chronic skin condition. But over the next 20 years I had managed, by the grace of God to build a good relationship with my step children, forge a strong marriage with my husband, and home school my younger kids without making them total misfits of society. After 30+ years with the same company, my husband was offered a retirement package that allowed us the opportunity to pay off our debts and look forward to maybe doing some travelling. We were taking dancing lessons and playing tennis. I had a part time job, and my husband was in the process of getting his own part time employment. Life was pretty good, all in all, although admittedly, I didn’t always appreciate it for what it was.
We were watching our two sweet grandchildren that day, and we were enjoying a beautiful spring afternoon on the back porch, when I noticed my husband’s speech was slurred and he wasn’t making much sense. He was having a stroke. And there you have it. The end of life as I knew it and the beginning of life as a wife of a stroke survivor.
In the following months I would find myself swimming through a tidal wave of new information and experiences. At first I relied heavily on the professionals around me to help me navigate the waters. But I soon realized that they were not always that helpful. They were busy and distracted, they assumed I understood things I didn’t, and they allowed me to make decisions that weren’t necessarily in the best interest of me or my husband. I then began to read books written by stroke survivors to see what I could do to facilitate the rehab process. What I found there was that people who write “how to” books are people who are highly motivated and highly successful. This was not the experience I was having, and I found the books to ultimately be very discouraging. That’s what inspired this blog. It isn’t a “how to” blog. It is more a “day in the life” blog. It’s a peek into the life of the not so successful or motivated. It is my goal to write this from a humorous perspective, at least some of the time, but I have been told lately that my attempts to be funny and light-hearted are sometimes just heart-wrenching. So be forewarned, some days my humor takes on disguises.
One more thing should be said here. I do not pretend to be writing this from an objective point of view. This is my experience. The people who will be mentioned here, including my husband, may not have the same opinion of the events as I relate them. It is not my desire to paint any of them in a poor light. But I don’t think it will be helpful if I gloss over everything and make it sound like there were no complications to the process. I will try to be understanding and charitable in my description of others’ contribution to our journey, but if I am not, please remember that this is written by someone who is sleep deprived, adjusting to terrible loss, and floundering like a fish on the end of a hook. It’s possible that I am a little confused.