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Starrlynn10, December 16,  2020  7:10am EST

My story

Hi , my name is Starr and my husband had a stroke 23 days after my cancer diagnosis. I haven’t even been able to process my diagnosis and now having to deal with my husbands condition. 

He is 60 years old and we still have two children at home. My children are torn apart and it pains me to see them hurting. I believe they’re all still in shock. I know I am. 

It was a normal Saturday morning and we got up early to go finish some Christmas shopping. I work nights , so I was moving slow getting ready. Huewitt was moving around doing a few things waiting on me So we can go. Looking back on that morning, he was more quite than normal. I didn’t think much of it because we have been dealing with the fact that I was just diagnosed with stage 4 DLBCL on November 23rd. We left the house and went to the shopping mall. We were at the first store and I had picked out a few gifts and he mumbled , through a mask , that his head was hurting. That was the only thing I made out. So we left the store and when we got in the car , he looked fine. Was speaking clearly and even said we could go to another store if I wanted to. I told him we could shop another day and headed home. After making it home , he came inside and went straight to the bathroom. I followed him and he was trying to say his hands felt funny but I couldn’t make out a word he said. I knew he was having a stroke. His BP was off the chart. We spent two days in the hospital and he seemed like he was going to be ok. He was talking , just mixing up his words and was moving around on his own. He walked out the hospital two days later when he was released. Well the next day he was having trouble with his right arm. At the dinner table , he had his napkin in hand and started looking for it. He didn’t even know he was holding it. I caught his hand in his plate several times and instructed him to put hand in his lap. I called the transition nurse immediately and was told that it was normal, maybe his body was tired. That he would have good days and bad days. But I’m worried. We are devastated. 

2 Replies
  • AHAModerator
    AHAModerator, December 23,  2020  12:14pm EST

    Starr, I'm so sorry that this is happening to your family. I encourage you to look at these Life After Stroke resources for recovery information to share with your husband and children. Please keep us updated on how he's doing.

    Best wishes,
    The AHA Team

  • GiraffeGirl
    GiraffeGirl, December 30,  2020  1:47pm EST

    Hello Starrlynn,

    I'm sorry your family is in this difficult situation. It sounds like a real "double whammy." I'm curious how old your children are and whether they're helping with caregiving. I ask because I also live with my parents, although now I stay with my grandma, who had a hemmoragic stroke in April, about 50% of the time (my dad's brother and sister split the other 50%).

    I want to encourage you and your children to each set aside time when you are completely "off duty" and focus on self-care. Depending on how much help your husband needs with personal care activities like bathing and toileting, that may mean bringing in outside help. Check with Senior Services in your area to see if they have a list of resources. Many services they provide are available to anyone over 55 (at least in my area) and resource lists should availabe to those of any age. They might even be accessible online.

    The thing with your husband's napkin sounds like one-sided neglect. This is something my grandma also struggles with, but on her left side (the stroke was on the right side of her brain). For example, she tends to forget there is food on the left side of her plate until someone points it out to her. When we're watching the news, she'll sometimes get confused by the story headline on the TV screen. When she asks about it, she'll read only the right half of the headline, and it's obvious that she missed the context provided by text on the left side of the screen. It's as if she doesn't even see those words. One day, my dad's sister got her to try a color-by-number picture as a type of informal vision therapy exercise. The result was enlightening for us! Not only did my grandma neglect the spaces on the left side of the picutre, each of the spaces she colored on the other side was colored darker on the right side and got lighter toward the left.

    The link I included above has tips for working to overcome one-sided neglect. However, for safety reasons it's a good idea to make sure that anything your husband needs for communication (e.g. telephone or call button) is kept on the side where neglect is not a problem. It's also wise to avoid putting things like hot drinks or sharp objects on the neglected side as well as he might not notice them until it's too late.

    I've only been here a couple months, but while it's not that active, this seems like a very supportive community for stroke caregivers. I hope you're able to find a similarly helpful resources as you deal with your cancer diagnosis.

    Take care!

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