My mother suffered from a brain aneurysm followed by two strokes within a one month time frame. For anyone that has someone close to them suffer from a stroke or multiple strokes, understands that the person we loved before, might be someone completely opposite after.
Strokes can be caused by many different things but the factors leading up to my mothers stroke were high blood pressure and smoking. There are also two kinds of strokes. One being a stroke where a part of your brain is blocked by some sort of clot. And what my mother had, when bleeding occurs due to weakened blood vessels. How does someone get weakened blood vessels? Years of high blood pressure and smoking. When your blood pressure is consistently high, it makes the blood in your vessels move through more forcibly. Making them more pliable due to the amount of fluid running through them at such a high pressure. This can cause weakness and rupture due to the break down.
I won’t get into detail on my mothers journey but she was in a coma for two months followed by six months in a rehabilitation center to regain any sort of normalcy she could.
When someone is in bed for two months, they lose almost all of their muscle mass and strength. What seems to be the easiest thing, get out of bed, was impossible for my mom and she needed therapy to regain those muscles.
She also lost the use of her left side. Her left hand is now contracted and while she has use of her left leg, it does not move as freely as her right.
Oh, and she does not talk anymore. She can write on her phone and paper but she can not say a single sentence. That has been the hardest part. We used to talk on the phone twice a day and were best friends. Now, I haven’t had a conversation with her in over six years.
There is also a new learning curve for everyone involved. My mother has become ocd about the time and taking medications. Even what day of the week she needs to shave her legs is on her schedule. It’s mentally exhausting.
Before her stroke, she was always organized and a list maker. But now it’s become a job write everything down. Constantly looking at the clock and stress everyone out around her with minute things that do not matter to anyone else.
Her likes and dislikes have changed drastically as well. She went from things like hating her feet touched and floral prints, to getting pedicures and picking out outrageous botanical styles.
Mood swings have become a hot topic as well. She switches faster than an armadillo about to be eaten. And her emotions are worse than a teenage girl during pms. There was a learning curve we all needed to figure out when mom came back to us. I still don’t think we have it figured out to her satisfaction.
Life for her has changed since the days she worked 70 hour weeks. Wrestling dogs at the vet clinic, driving a car and running errands on her own.
So what’s the silver lining to this horrible story right? Well, mom got to see her granddaughter be born. See me graduate college, for the second time. She has learned how to slow down in life, travel and enjoy simple pleasures like puzzles, she also never did before.
Another hobby she has taken on is her morning walks by the lake. She has a routine of heading out at sunrise and watching the world wake up before the chaos of the day happens. She has also started posting these to her social media account which has proved to have a nice following. Friends comment about how they look forward to her beautiful morning walk pictures every day. For Christmas last year we made her a calendar of all her work from the previous year. When she realized that it was her actual photos we collected, the pride on her face was priceless. Now she could see her work in print everyday to remind her of her talent and her mini fan club.
So a new normal has evolved for Mom and while a drastic shift, maybe a slow down that needed to happen so she could take a step back and enjoy life a little harder.
Check out this 9 gifts for stroke survivors post for year round gift giving ideas.
One of mom’s morning walk pictures.