Nov 30
roxbob , Posted on SUPPORT NETWORK Blog

"Single Parent Plus"

My wife had a severe ischemic stroke 2 1/2 years ago at age 43, and although she has made much improvement (her initial NIH stroke scale score was 19, so she could well have died), significant challenges remain and the whole family continues to struggle with the aftermath. She has little use of her non-dominant arm, no use of the hand, and needs a leg brace and cane to walk. There are also cognitive issues (attention, memory, etc.), she cannot drive, and is battling anxiety and depression. While we have several close friends in town, we are now much more isloated than we were before. I work full time as an administrator at a nearby University, and we have two children, now 8 and 11. I call myself a single parent plus - I pretty much have to do everything a single parent does, plus caregiving. We have really good kids who are active in sports and doing well in school, but this does not extend to helping in any way at home, and I pretty much have to do everything (my wife is physically able to do some things, but usually doesn't. It's very difficult to know whether this is a function of the stroke or not). This fosters resentment, which I am continually battling. I know all of the things that I'm supposed to do - get enough sleep, get exercise, do things for myself, etc., but there's simply not enough hours in the day to do those things if I'm to keep everyone housed, fed, clothed, and where they need to be.  My wife's recovery has slowed to the extent where it's now clear that it's going to be much like this from now own, unless some miracle stem cell treatment or something comes along.  I worry about burnout and my long term health constantly (every time I get a little pain in my chest I wonder if it's a heart attack), but I'm trapped by duty and necessity.  I know that no one here is going to have any answers that I'm not aware of already, but I'd be interested in hearing from others who are in a similar situation and who have managed to build an improved relationship with your spouse and a better quality of life. It seems to be an impossible task, and I'd love to be proved wrong.  Thanks!     - Bob  
  • apatis
    Hi Bob, I suffered a similar stroke as your wife affecting my left,but dominant side., You and your wife can beat this! Please read my post- FIGHTING BACK and feel free to contact me if I can help. keep fighting, bob. al
  • Elizabeth17
    Hi Bob - First let me say WHEW - I FEEL YA! I have been both a caregiver and a survivor of a stroke at 43 and a bypass at 55. I will speak to you from both sides. You speak of yourself being "trapped by duty and necessity". I can tell you that you wife 100% feels that from you. I know that your life has changed dramatically, but you really need to get some counseling to deal with your anger and resentment about this situation. (understand no judgement here - only support) You will have to face the fact that she may be like this forever, or she may recover - a lot of that depends on you. I would suggest that you be honest with her about your struggles and let her be honest with you about what it feels like to have lost the ability to have a normal life and be a wife to you and a mother to her children. If you are financially able maybe you could hire someone to help you with the household side of things. I know this is a very difficult situation for you - its something that everyone of us fears - what we are putting our families through. I can't even stress to you how important it is that you seek outside counseling. Even if ALL it provides you is someone to talk face to face honestly about your feelings. Let me just tell you - I had my stroke while caring for a family, working full time and caring for my mother who had dementia. You are correct - you MUST take care of yourself. I will certainly keep you in my thoughts and prayers. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!
  • ActiveLarry
    Bob, Stroke has the same source as typical heart disease, arterial blockages. Diet and stress play a huge part in this. Insufficient high antioxidant foods are a big part in arterial diseases, since they can slow or stop blockage progression. Exercise of even the lightest activity stimulates production and release of healing substances from muscles, called myokines. Look up paraoxonase and foods that stimulate its production, as well as high thiamine foods that aid production of endothelial progenitor cells. A low fat diet will also help, since with less LDL, there is less damage inducing oxidized LDL. My heart disease is supposed to have killed me 7 years ago. Finbding this information on my own is part of why I am still alive. Please eat healthy yourself, too.
  • roxbob
    Thanks for the encouraging words, all! Liza, I should have mentioned that I have indeed been in active counseling for about a year now (my wife, of course, has been in treatment since the stroke). We are also looking into starting couples and/or family counseling, plus some additional support for our daughter, who is 11, and hitting the usual challenges of being a preteen on top of all of this. Although we don't communicate as well as we used to, we're both aware of each of our struggles, and we're trying to support each other as best as we can. I also have hired some household help a few times per week, to keep the house in moderately decent shape (and to prevent me from having to fold laundry until 1 am). There still aren't enough hours in the day though! I'm acutely aware that the emotional state of the entire family feeds off of me, so I try very hard to swallow the negative feelings - doesn't always work though (usually when I get home from work, immediately have to dive into getting dinner on the table, the house is a wreck, everyone else is chilling out on their various devices, and I have to get them fed and to a sports practice in like 20 minutes. Those are the danger times...). Anyway, I know I'm not alone, but it seems like it, so it's great to hear it directly. Larry - doing our best to eat healthy! The stroke wasn't diet related though - she somehow developed a dissection in her carotid artery, possibly from her workout earlier in the day, which caused the clot. Purely a freak, really unlucky event. Sometimes I wonder just how big that tiny little clot was that upended our lives so much!
  • Elizabeth17
    Bob - it can be so daunting of a task trying to take care of everyone and yourself. I'm glad you all are seeking counseling. Sometimes we just don't understand the crosses we have to carry in life - it just doesn't seem fair. But - bless your heart for trying - really I mean that. Hang in there!
  • dwaynec
    BOB, Have you tried Nitric Oxide therapy? The medical community is calling Nitric Oxide the miracle molecule! Along with lifestyle change it's helping people who suffer from cardio vascular disease. I do a health awareness webinar every Monday and Wednesday at 8 pm eastern to help fight CVD. Please feel free to join in on our next webinar this Monday or Wednesday by clicking this link: or you can dial in 712)770-4010 code 594427. Also check out "The Whole Heart Solution" by Dr. Joel Kahn MD. To Your Health!! Dwayne
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