Nearly 5 million people in the United States today have survived a stroke. When you think about it, that doesn’t just affect the lives of survivors, but also their families. Most of us have somebody in our lives that will step up and help us through a traumatic event. For me, it was my mother.
As soon as the doctor in the emergency room called my family, 16 hours away, and told them about my condition, my mom and brother jumped in the car and drove all night to be with me at the hospital. By the time they got here, my procedure was over and I was recovering in the intensive care unit. It’s funny, now that I’m all grown up, I never thought I would need my mom. I thought things would start to shift the other way, where she would need me, as she got older. But there’s something about being sick. I remember during my stroke, all I wanted was my mom. And as soon as I saw her enter the room with my brother, everything just felt better.
At the time of course, I didn’t think about all she did. In fact, she really had her work cut out for her. She took a leave of absence to stay with me at my townhouse. She drove me to the hospital five days a week for my rehabilitation. She took care of my son, cook all the meals, cleaned the house. She even had to help me get dressed, do my makeup and hair. I felt so useless. And while I was so thankful to have her around, I know I didn’t show it during that time. I was so consumed with myself, getting my life back together, that I didn’t realized it had changed her life as well. She was away from her life; neglecting her job, her friends and her own home, just to help me.
Being a mother, I understand that. I know I would do the same for my son if anything like that happened to him. But in this case, my mother wasn’t just being a mom, but she had taken on a full-time job as my caregiver. And it’s important to realize that being a caregiver can be very stressful. The caregiver may be concerned their loved one will have another stroke, or they won’t be able to handle the changes caused by the stroke. The best thing to remember is that you, as a caregiver, are not alone.
They are many resources out there to help. Caregivers can become frustrated, overwhelmed and sometimes isolated. When this happens, therapists say to step back from the situation, go into another room and count to 10 or listen to music or take a bath. Caregivers also need to remember to take care of themselves, to take breaks and get away from the situation from time to time. Find another family member to step in or find a reputable adult daycare, so you can have a little “me” time. Also, there are millions of people just like you, who are caregivers to a loved one. Find a small group of them in your area for support.
Even though it’s been six years, I still appreciate what my mom did for me. I know I wouldn’t have made it without her. And now that she is retired, she still comes to visit several weeks at a time. Each time, she goes right into “mom” mode, cooking dinner and cleaning my house. So it makes sense why she was such a good caregiver, because she’s an awesome mom. That’s why my husband, son and I are taking her on a surprise cruise to the Bahamas in January. To say Happy Retirement, Merry Christmas and Thank You for being you!
Published On: November 28, 2006