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9 things I learned from my Mother after her stroke.

I have learned a few things from my mother about life after her stroke. As with anyone that has had a family member suffer a stroke, a new normal and routine has probably come short after. Life is not the same as it used to be. Schedules change, processes around the house are now different, and your loved one will never be the same.

Since my mom has come home from the hospital, everything is different. As we navigate through life, I have put together a list of things I have learned since.

Things I have learned from my Mother:

1. It’s not all about you. When we are a young, taking care of our parents is something very surreal to us. You shouldn’t have to be making medical choices, paying their bills, and attending rehab sessions so they can learn to walk again. Taking on so much so quickly was a very hard thing emotionally for me. It was a lot of change in a short period. Such big decisions so quickly was overwhelming and stressful. But, life sucks sometimes and this is the card some of us our dealt.

3. Sometimes you just need to listen. Since my mothers stroke, she no longer speaks. She can say ‘no’ and ‘cat’. Go figure right? Her two favorite words. Writing things down can get frustrating. What she thinks she is writing, is sometimes not what she is trying to say. After much frustration and when every ounce of patience is gone, sometimes both sides just need to take step back. A few minutes to calm down, take a breath and look again with fresh eyes and ears usually solves the disconnect.

4. Have some patience and fucking laugh a little. If there is one thing I was not given at birth, it’s patience. I have none nor did I care to obtain any. Until my Mom got sick. One example, she wanted me to help her change her shirt. So after 10 minutes of trying to find the one she was actually talking about, we exchanged glances and went forward with the shirt changing process. Her left arm just kind of hangs there so here I am trying to take off the first shirt. Then of course she has two on, and it’s caught on her head. So I’m trying to hurry up and pull it over so she doesn’t suffocate to death and I am starting to feel terrible at this when she just busts out laughing. After a minute, I start laughing too because she knows I’m at least trying and if anyone could see this situation unfold, they would be laughing too. The next shirt is even more trouble. The first arm goes in and then I’m trying to manipulate her bum left arm without breaking it in half and she just keeps laughing away. And it was exactly what I needed to hear.

5. It’s ok to cry. When Mom first got sick, I didn’t want to cry in front of her. I wanted to be the strong one. Even when my entire family was crying, I didn’t. You just have to take your mind to a place that crying doesn’t exist and stay there. Try it, it really does work. Growing up, Mom never cried. Now, when she gets sad or starts to think back to the life she once had, she cries. I used to be able to put up a wall and not cry with her. But I’m just as sad as she is that she can’t have her life back. I also want her to know that we all feel bad for the situation she’s in now. And if crying makes it a little easier, then hell, I’m going to cry too. I still hold most of it together until I get to my car, I’m glad my steering wheel can’t talk.

6. Being embarrassed is not an option. I get embarrassed easily in public. I don’t know these people and will never see them again, but somehow I care what they think. Mom stands out in certain situations and where it once used to bother me, I just do not have the willpower to care anymore. I know she get embarrassed when we cut her food up in public, or have to help her try clothes on, get her credit card of out her wallet, etc. but there is no shame in any of that. It’s just how things have to be now and we can’t keep feeling sorry for ourselves. We need to move forward.

7. It will get better. Anything new takes time to get used too. Learning something different can be scary and knowing there is no other option but to learn it, is even scarier. When new learning situations would get tense, we would remove ourselves from it, get some ice-cream or coffee. Talk about anything but what we were doing and then try again. An example we had was buttoning a jean button, Mom was not able to for months, maybe years after. But eventually she got it and the look she had on her face when she did was pride for all the hard work and frustration she put in to get there.

8. Sometimes life just blows. As much as I try to be my Mom’s cheerleader, some days just suck. Nothing I can say is going to make her feel better or fix it. It’s in those times I can be a shoulder to cry on and agree with her that life blows balls sometimes but we need to accept it and make the best out of this shit ass situation we are currently in.

9. Therapy goes a long way. A few months after this situation happened, I was having a lot of trouble managing mentally what had happened. My family and friends were not helpful as they had their own emotions and views on the issue so I decided to talk to a therapist. The first few sessions were basically me crying my eyes out the entire time as I told this stranger sitting across from me every emotion I had bottled up over the last year. I ended up seeing her for a few months and it was the best thing I think a person can do for themselves if they even think they would benefit. It’s like having a best friend who will never tell your secrets but offers advice you were too clouded to see on your own. I’m not sure what it is about telling your secrets to a complete stranger but it’s a lot easier than you think. It’s the weight of the world off your chest, a sense of clarity, a way to focus on the future and let go of your pain from the past. I highly recommend therapy to anyone even remotely thinking about going. It’s worth it. [mailerlite_form form_id=1]

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