The anniversaries of the strokes are big milestones, but the date where the rubber really hit the road , June 2006, was when we made it home after the 2nd stroke. That was when our new life started.
Our old life died on the days the strokes occurred. The old ways of doing things, our old relationship, our old marriage, our old simplistic and naive view of life all died on the stroke dates. The new life, the new normal started when we came home that June.
As we rode home, a home Marty hadn’t seen in six months, our new life smacked me in the head when the agency I had contracted with to provide care giving service called to say their care giver would not be able to make it that night.
I was already walking a very fine line between sanity and total panic induced insanity and I went ballistic as I drove the car home with Marty beside me. I’m sure my reaction scared Marty; the thought of no professional care giver certainly scared me. It was my introduction to our new world; it was Nurses’ Unlimited’s introduction to the maniac, Marty’s Husband. They sent a supervisor to help us make it through the night.
We hadn’t been home two weeks when Marty went back in the hospital in July to treat an upper respiratory infection. We returned home after four days and then went back to the hospital with another infection about six weeks later. I was on the edge of believing I could never, ever do what lay in front of us. How would I ever be able to manage the disability, the meds, the procedures, the appointments, the need for constant help, the infections and all of the other issues associated with these strokes?
I was emotionally exhausted, I was anxious all of the time, I almost foundered from worry, mostly I had this profound fear I couldn’t do what needed to be done. Marty and I were home but it was a home I no longer recognized, it was a home that provided very little comfort for me and I worried it didn’t provide the safety and security Marty needed.
While the hospitals and the sub acute care centers and the rehabs were difficult they did offer some sense of security, some sense that we could rely on someone else’s judgment…….someone else’s judgment, not mine alone. Being home meant I had to rely on my own judgment. I didn’t trust myself.
Marty didn’t have much of a choice, she had to trust me, she had to assume my judgment about her health, about her care, about her very life would pass muster. Trust me when I say it was a sea change for her too.
Marty accepted. Marty decided, whether by choice or not, she decided she would look to me not to fail her. Somehow she didn’t doubt, she just assumed I could do it, she assumed we would make the transition to our new life, together.
Ultimately her confidence in me made the difference, she believed in me when I didn’t believe, she believed we would find our path. She taught me that we can do what is necessary; she showed me we can rise up and do those things we once thought beyond us. Her faith, her belief, her tenacity, her refusal to accept less made me better and we survived those first tumultuous incredibly frightening weeks.
I still doubt, I still fret, I still feel anxious, I still worry about her and watch her like a nervous hunting dog, always waiting, almost sniffing the air for prey, always waiting to stiffen and point. A yawn from her, a stretch, a cough, a sneeze, a sleepy reply, a confused look still takes me back to those very difficult days, to the June we came back and buried an old life and started anew.
I suspect that will always be.
I hate the strokes, the coming home days still cause me to breathe too rapid and too shallow. I am forever grateful for Marty and her faith, her faith in God, her faith in me, her faith that we can adapt. Her belief changed me.