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SueC

Concerned for caregiver

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Hi All,

My stroke was on August 29,2018.  My husband of 34 years and I are still trying to cope with the new normal. My only deficits are low energy and concentration and I can't speak for long periods of time without stuttering or not getting any words out.

 

I am writing this because I really need to vent.  I am and always was a big worrier.  Now I am even more worried about my husband than before the stroke.

He had a severe clinical depression and has not been able to work for 4 years.  He was getting better, and I was starting to manage to get him out of the house, and now this. By this, I mean the stroke.

I had high cholesterol and didn't realize it. My mom had a stroke and my dad had a heart attack, so the blood clot and narrowed artery in my brain could be genetic. That, and being raised on a European diet. After the stroke I decided to completely change my diet to plant based, no dairy no oil, no salt.  I found this easy to do, and really enjoy the recipes I have found.

My concern is that since my husband enjoys a lot of junk food, he now consumes more foods that are really bad for him, and based on the wrappers in the trash, he is eating a lot. He is also staying up all night and going to bed at 5 or 6 am, although this is not new, he has always been a night owl.  I am concerned that he is using sleep and food to cope and I am having trouble not feeling upset that the stroke has caused this and also set him back in his recovery.  He goes to a mood disorder group every week, and I can only hope he talks about it.  I can't help him, I can't even help myself right now.

Any coping suggestions to help me would be welcomed, and thanks so much for reading this.

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Honestly Sue, my answer is going to come from a place of uncontrolled anxiety, anxiety attacks, depression and it can be bad. My opinion is that if your husband has had a history of severe clinical depression then he needs to have mental support. Especially after who he loves has had such a life changing experience. Psychiatrists, Psychologists, his regular physician and a support group focusing on survivors and caregivers would be awesome. Maybe even a support group geared more towards caretaker but a support group focusing on stroke survivors and their caretakers would be really positive for you both. I definitely would reach out to his PCP for mental support. I also think he should be in the care of a Psychologist at least. They can really help him with coping skills and can monitor his current situation if he needs further support. I'm not a doctor though, I very much recommend your husband or you talking to his primary Dr.

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Thanks so much for taking the time to write. I agree thst he needs more support and will definitely tslk to our Dr about it next week when we see him. 

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Sue :

 

for me personally finding online support group & blogging about my journey has been very therapeutic for my soul. If he agrees ask him to join our caregiver chat which is here on every Tuesday 8-9 EST in caregiver room. If he joins maybe he will like it & will be able to open up about his emotions.

 

Asha

 

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Great idea! Thanks Asha 🙂

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Sue, tough situation. 

 

Ok, from a survivor point of view, you have enough going on.  You can't sort him out until you are going in the direction you want to be going in. Sounds harsh, but until you are in the right place nothing is going to help. 

 

From my point of view, my husband still struggles, it's so tough being survivor and caregiver to the caregiver.  I still am, even after 4.5 years. 

 

As Asha says, caregiving group would be great.

 

As Tracy says, get him help.  I took my husband with me to the doctor once, and once there, talked about his mental health.  Got him a referral to a psychologist. 

 

Sometimes we have to play dirty to help others, which in turn helps us. 

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Sue, I was assuming that your husband already had a therapist. If he does, that's great, but if he doesn't, then he needs one. Is he taking any medication for his depression? If he isn't, then he needs to see a psychiatrist. Only a psychiatrist is qualified to prescribe meds for mental illness, and depression is a mental illness.  There are a gazillion anti-depressants out there, and that's part of the problem in treating depression because it can be like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack to find the right one.  If your husband is on an anti-depressant, it may be time to try another one. That's where psychiatrists come in handy- they're trained in how to find the right one.

  Sleep and eating disorders walk hand-in-hand with depression. And, you're right-there's nothing you can do. The depression needs to be treated in order to get these under control. Once the depression is treated, he'll have no reason to self-medicate with food or sleep.   The important thing for you to remember is that you are not to blame for your husband's reactions. You did not invite stroke into your lives or cause the upheaval that has resulted. Stroke affects the survivor and his/her family. It's just that in your case, the family member had problems with depression before the stroke. The depression just complicated his reaction.   Becky

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16 hours ago, becky1 said:

There are a gazillion anti-depressants out there, and that's part of the problem in treating depression because it can be like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack to find the right one.  If your husband is on an anti-depressant, it may be time to try another one. That's where psychiatrists come in handy- they're trained in how to find the right one.

Plus, it takes an anti-depressant 4 - 6 weeks to become effective.  Then, if it's not effective he needs to follow-up with his psychiatrist, get a new prescription, try it for 4 - 6 weeks and then follow-up again.  He might need to repeat this procedure numerous times or he could get lucky and find it quickly.  The bottom line is it pays huge dividends to be patient.  My world went from completely black to various shades of grey to completely white! 

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Thanks everyone!  We are going to our doctor on Friday, and I will discuss it with him when we are both there.  I can't tell you how invaluable your advice and support is!

Today is Thanksgiving here in Canada, and I am very thankful to have all of you.

Sue

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Happy thanksgiving Sue.

 

Very glad thanksgiving has special meaning this year.

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If you are in or near Toronto, try to get a referral to Sunnybrook Hospital.  They are the major stroke centre, and (among other things) have psychiatrists who are experienced with the issues faced by stroke patients and care-givers.

 

I see one of the shrinks there regularly, and it helps a lot to improve my mood and attitude and to keep things in perspective.  My wife came along for a couple of sessions, which helped her to recalibrate her expectations and to deal with my stroke.

 

If not in the GTA, try to find out where the nearest big stroke centre is, and as for a referral.  The only downside is that it may take some time.

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We have seen the neurologist since my post and he will be setting us up with a support group for survivors and caregivers. I am grateful to live in Vancouver and the stroke clinic is literally 20 minutes down the street! My husband is willing to do whatever he can and we have decided to see the humour in the many silly things I do now. Thanks so much Paul, I appreciate your reply!

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Wow Sue that is so great!!! I bet you both will love the support group. Mine is my 2nd family as well as you guys. I'm glad you and your husband can feel the humor that comes along with some of the stroke stuff that trips us up...literally lol. About 5 months after my stroke I walked out onto the porch and tripped landing head first into the hedge! I was holding on to the branches for dear life as I watched them inch closer to my face. I was so startled and exhausted I couldn't tell for help. My daughter came outside and said "OMG" and yelled for my bf. He pulled me out in one jerk holding onto the back of my shirt and then I just sat on the porch and cried lol. After settling down we laughed and laughed!! Laughter is definitely therapeutic.

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Sue that’s so awesome! Your husband has certainly turned the corner.

 

Vancouver...we spent a few days there (still haven’t told everyone about our trip) a couple of years ago.

 

Went to two Canucks games...we are all Canucks!

 

Tracy you nailed it! Laughing about stuff is exactly the right medicine! I can just picture you with twigs in your hair!

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