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Strokewife

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This year is Leap Year. Which means we have an extra day added onto our calendar. This has always made me ask, “Why it is called year if it is just a day?” “Why not just call it Leap Day?” Anyway, with that awareness the thought jumps around in my head, “What would I do with an extra day?”

 

As a caregiver, time for myself is something I get little of and I crave. It isn’t that I do not take time for myself but more that time has to be strategically planned. Oh the thought of going and pampering myself with a pedicure, massage, and facial runs through my head. Taking in a movie, mindless shopping, or oil painting like days of old crosses my mind. Even just going for a walk in the park, followed by a lunch outing make the list. And then reality sets in and I think, “Just a long uninterrupted nap would be nice.” I don’t seem to get enough sleep as it is and now, as a caregiver, it is always in segments. So a day to just cuddle up in the covers and get served breakfast in bed sounds heavenly. I envision myself as the Scarlette O’Hara character in Gone with the Wind or even more recent Lady Mary Crowley from Downton Abbey where a maid enters my room with a tray of the finest delicacies and waits on me hand and foot. What can I say, I am a dreamer.

 

Basically, what I realize is that I miss those days before the stroke when my husband and I would go on impromptu outings. It was not out of the ordinary for us to load up our dog Max (miniature dachshund), a basket of wine and cheese, and go to the lake to soak in all that nature gives to us. Don’t get me wrong, we do these things now but it is different because I must do most of the work. It is work to get everything in the van. It is work to pack and prepare food for the both of us, as well as, Max. It is work to pack a “Husband Bag.” I do all this then it is work to load him, my most precious cargo, in the van. Sometimes we go to the destination and it will last fifteen minutes. The moment I had planned for a nice outing becomes overcast by a scurry to get my husband back to the comforts of home. He sometimes has anxiety so the outing becomes less enjoyable. This in turn strikes up sorrow with in me and I have to bury it because I don’t want to upset my husband. I crave those days when my husband would surprise me and serve me breakfast, or prepare a nice dinner with wine that he strategically picked out all with a story of how much I mean to him. Certainly, I still have special moments with my husband it just always includes assistance from me, the caregiver.

 

All in all, I have adapted. I plan fun activity at home because it is easier. I order carry out so I don’t have to cook. I rent movies so we can watch them at home. The list goes on of things I do to take the burden off of myself but the one probing thought that still remains about Leap Year is, “What does my husband crave? What would he do on this extra day?” Oh sure I still think, “What would I do with an extra day all to myself.” Balancing having my own time verses time care giving for my husband would be grand. It is like creating a piece of art. There is a blank canvas, oils in various hues, and brushes to bring the two together. It is a masterpiece continually being adapted to perfection.

 

Mostly though, what I realize with this thought about an extra day is that I have my husband in this day. I thank God each time I watch the sunset for having stamina to care for my husband at home. I praise the miracles of healing surrounding him. I am filled with joy for each moment we have to plan movie night, to plan what food to order, and to find comfort with just a touch. After all, it comes down to what matters most doesn’t it? For me, that is my husband surviving. So, on this extra day I plan to spend my “Leap Day” with a wonderful man who is a Stroke Survivor. I plan to savor every moment because who knows what tomorrow will bring. I plan to embrace that I am a caregiver and smile proudly while doing it. I plan to Leap with Joy on this day.

So, my readers, I ask the question of each of you: What will you do this Leap Year Day?

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I loved your blog.  It was only after having a stroke, and coming on strokenet, did I think of caregivers. You do a wonderful job, and thinking about what you would love to do is fine and acceptable.  It also clear  that you and your husband have a loving relationship, and you are both blessed to have each other.

 

Myself, I have a loving marriage, been togeather 25years, married 23.  So the extra day, I be thanking God for my husband and my family. Spenting it with them. My Grandkids love playing games with us, we enjoy it too. It is full of laugh, and smiles.

 

Yvonne

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For me it is an extra day to appreciate life.  I was once where you are now, a busy caregiver, for the last twelve years of a 44 year marriage that ended three years ago when my husband died.  Now what I do I do alone.  Not moaning, just saying.  Enjoy your extra day this year. It is one more to build up some good memories.

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Strokewife :

 

so so loved your blog. I know first year is the hardest of all for every one involved, & it does test limits of every one & their relationship. no wonder so many marriages break apart or become stronger due to adversity in life. or survivors wanting to give up & commit suicide. I know I was there I never thought I could endure that first year, I truly hanged on my caregiver's strength during that first year till I found my own. I remember hubby telling me to hold on  tight & don't get drown in this sea of despair. things will change, nothing lasts forever good time or bad times, I am so thankful I believed in him & his words. & held on tight by his collar lol.  & now today after 12 years on this post stroke journey I feel stroke as just speed bump in our life's journey it slowed me down to enjoy scenery along the way.  I am grateful to be around my family & friends,  & life is more meaningful today than it ever was before.  enjoy this extra day to build special memory with your loved ones. I felt stroke was lowest point of Ferris wheel in our life's journey now ride is going up. so enjoy it together,things r going to become better. you can still enjoy life after stroke just little differently than before.  As a caregiver make sure to make your husband as independent as possible more he does for himself & family its better for him & you. you can get your well deserved break & he will feel great about being still around.

 

Asha

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Hi Stroke Wife, the day has special meaning here.   Bob actually stroked on Feb 29, 2012!    I understand everything you are saying.   The first year after his stroke I was constantly looking for that elusive 5 seconds, just to wash my face!   I'm 24/7 sole caregiver to Bob, who is profoundly handicapped.   I am so thankful that he is alive, as that day could have played out in 5 different ways, and 4 of them would have left him dead, and one of those 4 would have had me gone too.    Perhaps it's because I'm a bit of a loner, and always loved being home, that I don't feel trapped nor go stir crazy.    I enjoy being home and spending my time with him, and there's no place I'd rather be, than with him.   I cherish each day, and we work in a laugh here and there, and stay up late, sleep till noon, and do whatever we feel like.   We consider ourselves RETIRED!   This is the 4th year, and this summer I finally got to the point where I'm crocheting again!... or knitting or a little quilting or tunisian crochet, or rug hooking - I've even picked up tatting!   I've never been a person to be bored at home, and when others ask me don't I need to just get away, I sincerely tell them, "I just want to be with Bob", they seem disappointed and shake their heads and go home!    Jeepers... makes you wonder about THEIR marriages!    

 

I will say that it makes a lot of difference about the attitude of the one who stroked.    If they are bitter and take it out on the caregiver/others, there will be no joy for anyone and it will just get harder and harder.    I thank God that my husband is so sweet and patient and not a complainer!   We are 'the glass is half FULL' people, and that makes it work.  It is the real secret to being happy for anyone, under any circumstance!    I could not do this, if he was a bad actor.   

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