Raw. That is the word that best describes the way I felt for the next several months. I felt like my heart had been dragged behind a truck on a gravel road. We were getting little sleep, and the day was filled with just taking care of Strokeman’s needs and getting him through his exercises, and to and from his rehab. Sleep deprivation is its own kind of torture, and I began to look for someone to confess all the secrets of the world to so that they would just let me take a nap! On top of that, I had strained my shoulder lifting and pulling and pushing, and I had shooting pain every time I had to use it. And life kept getting in the way. It wouldn’t be put on hold any more. I had to take care of overdue bills, and home maintenance. I had to keep up with insurance claims and medical equipment. My children, for all their independence, still needed me to be the mom sometimes. The grass kept growing, the dishes didn’t wash themselves. Every demand seemed like such an offense to me. How could the world go on turning when my life was in such a shambles?
After sleeping in the hospital bed for two months Strokeman was not used to having someone in the bed with him. After the first night or two, he made some comment about me sleeping somewhere else. It hurt my feelings, but I started sleeping on the couch. Unfortunately, that didn’t work either, since I would sleep so hard that I would not hear him calling me when he needed me. He was waking me as much as every hour some nights. There was rarely a night when he would sleep more than three hours at a time. Often he would wake up around 5:00am wanting to go to the bathroom. I would have to turn on the light, help him sit up in the bed, put his gait belt on, help him transfer to the wheel chair, wheel him into the bathroom, transfer him to the bedside commode, wait until he was done, get him back to bed, clean out the pot, and then crawl back into bed only to have him say he needed to eat breakfast. It wasn’t long before everything I said came out in a frantic shriek.
I had this constant struggle in me about what was reasonable for me to say no to and what was me just being selfish. I tried to pray, I tried to see my service as an act of worship, I begged for wisdom, I begged for patience, I begged for sleep.
Getting Strokeman to and from rehab was an exhausting endeavor. We were going three times a week, and were supposed to be doing exercises at home in between sessions. But by the time we made it there and back it was taking us both at least a day to recuperate. If he didn’t want to do his homework, I didn’t have the strength to argue with him.
During this time one of our pastors began to come regularly to counsel with us. He took the brunt of much of my rantings with much patience and kindness. He designated a deacon for me whose job was to find men to fix and maintain household things as well as some who would come and learn basic exercises to do with Strokeman. They would come twice a week so that I could go get groceries or run other errands, and would work on Strokemans exercises with him while I was gone. It was helpful to have these men come, but it was not enough to keep me from being exhausted.
On top of being tired all the time, I began to feel like I was under house arrest. I could never go anywhere for more than an hour or two. I couldn’t talk to anyone on the phone or turn music on in the house, or turn the TV up loud enough to hear, because Strokeman was so sensitive to sound. But at an indescribably slow pace, things were on an upward trend. Little by little we were settling into a routine.