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The Tortoise and The Hare


Strokewife

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One day a hare was bragging about how fast he could run. He bragged and bragged and even laughed at the tortoise; who was so slow. The tortoise stretched out his long neck and challenged the hare to a race, which, of course, made the hare laugh.

 

"My, my, what a joke!" thought the hare. "A race, indeed, a race. Oh! What fun! My, my! a race, of course, Mr. Tortoise, we shall race!" said the hare.

 

The forest animals met and mapped out the course. The race begun, and the hare, being such a swift runner, soon left the tortoise far behind. About halfway through the course, it occurred to the hare that he had plenty of time to beat the slow trodden tortoise.

 

"Oh, my!" thought the hare, "I have plenty of time to play in the meadow here." And so he did. After the hare finished playing, he decided that he had time to take a little nap. "I have plenty of time to beat that tortoise," he thought. And he cuddled up against a tree and dozed.

 

The tortoise, in the meantime, continued to plod on, albeit, it ever so slowly. He never stopped, but took one good step after another.

 

The hare finally woke from his nap. "Time to get going," he thought. And off he went faster than he had ever run before! He dashed as quickly as anyone ever could up to the finish line, where he met the tortoise; who was patiently awaiting his arrival.

 

This age old Aesop’s fable called The Tortoise and the Hair came to mind today while assisting my husband with his daily walk. He was walking across the room and back with a great deal of concentration and preciseness. Each step was slow and methodical. He used his half walker, had the usual drop foot, and panted heavily as he maneuvered his uncooperative body. I, while walking along side him found my mind wondering off. Normally, I reminded him to breathe, offered encouraging words, and sometimes would tell a joke. The list in my head, on this day, of all that I needed to do was signaling loud whistle sounds like a locomotive train. The lack of time to complete all I needed to do was causing much exasperation to my being. So much so, that my stroke survivor kept asking “What is wrong?” I did not realize I sighed out loud alerting him to my stress. I responded by simply saying, “I have a lot on my mind, a lot to do, and just not enough time to do it.” His response was, “It is just time.” Chuckling, I started singing… ”Time is on my side…yes it is!” A line from the classic song by The Rolling Stones. Suddenly, I wasn’t thinking about my list but was pondering about time. I recalled something from my younger years of management training. It was a course on how to manage time and be more productive in the work environment. Basically, when given a task that appears overwhelming one idea is one should not look at the whole picture. It is better to break it down to one pixel at a time. It is another way of addressing a problem that is too monumental. The teaching showed how one should evaluate the process rather than attack personality…This is the same course that taught me the question: How do you eat an elephant? The answer: One bite at a time. The point here in which my husband so simply pointed out is it is just time…there are 24 hours in every day. With that my outlook was turned to the awareness to stop moving like the hare and slow down to be like the tortoise.

 

As a caregiver I have found there are many moments in which patience is in high demand but can’t be located anywhere. It stems mostly from the balancing of task that I do for myself along with the task I do to assist my husband. Thus, when I awake on any given morning I jump up much like the hare and scurry to do a list of many, many things before I proceed to help my husband get up and start on his list. Obviously, he is like the tortoise and steps along quite slowly. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining or finding fault in my husband’s pace, I just on this particular day recognized that my mind moves in fast forward. It is when I have to rewind that I become distressed. So, as I heeded my own advice and took a deep breath I stopped watching the clock or focusing on all that I needed to do. I sighed one last sigh and took the next step with my husband, told him to breathe, and praised his performance.

 

Of course there is another side to this story…that which highlights the beauty in moving slow…the idea that if you stay focused you will get to the finish line. In our case, my dear readers, that line is surviving stroke,

 

Perhaps the moral of this story is; No matter what level you are at in your stroke recovery there is still 24 hours in each day. Whether you are the hare or the tortoise you will get across the line eventually. I guess it is really more in how you don’t look at it…or the big picture isn’t the focus here. So, does anybody want to help me snack on an elephant? There is a race about to start…

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Bob is the same way.    I am sooooo thankful that he can do the 'slow waltz', and I have to watch his feet, my hand is on his belt in the back.    If I forget one minute what to watch for, he'll fall on me!   ack!    I can feel it now, like the therapists used to say, "I know when he's going to fall, before he does".    You are walking along and there is that little bobble in his step that you barely feel, it means his foot has stumbled on the other foot or something else, and that little bobble is him trying to get the foot back in place.    I immediately pull his body to mine, and his weight becomes part of my core weight, that I can balance... he doesn't fall.    It seems I have to be careful not to talk to him much, or he will lose concentration and be more prone to make a blooper.

 

But, oh man!    I am sooo happy that he can do this, and I don't have to move him by wheelchair, which I did at first.    People really don't realize how every little thing is MAJOR, when you start with nothing!

 

FOCUS.... you can't focus on something without a goal to focus on....  yes, we have a goal and we have tunnel vision.   We are the CAREGIVERS!

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Bob is the same way.    I am sooooo thankful that he can do the 'slow waltz', and I have to watch his feet, my hand is on his belt in the back.    If I forget one minute what to watch for, he'll fall on me!   ack!    I can feel it now, like the therapists used to say, "I know when he's going to fall, before he does".    You are walking along and there is that little bobble in his step that you barely feel, it means his foot has stumbled on the other foot or something else, and that little bobble is him trying to get the foot back in place.    I immediately pull his body to mine, and his weight becomes part of my core weight, that I can balance... he doesn't fall.    It seems I have to be careful not to talk to him much, or he will lose concentration and be more prone to make a blooper.

 

But, oh man!    I am sooo happy that he can do this, and I don't have to move him by wheelchair, which I did at first.    People really don't realize how every little thing is MAJOR, when you start with nothing!

 

FOCUS.... you can't focus on something without a goal to focus on....  yes, we have a goal and we have tunnel vision.   We are the CAREGIVERS!

The song by Queen just popped in my head..."We are the Champions...We'll keep on fighting till the end." Except I changed the words to say, "I am the Caregiver...I'll keep on caring forever and ever...amen"  I have said many times to friends and coworkers, when I hear them grumbling, you just don't realize how good you have it.  I appreciate the most minimal of things now since my husband's stroke.  I agree with you on the talking...I love to hear my husband laugh when I tell a joke but he can't laugh and walk at the same time. I too am thankful my husband can walk even if it is, what we call the zombie walk. 

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It's this old stuff about you don't see the wood because of the trees.  As carer or survivor, you have to work on each "step" and not get obsessed with the big final goal. So long as you have worked out what today's tasks are and the order they should be done to get to the final aim, you can just do each task in it's own time and the final aim will be reached.  I'm not saying don't take time to stop and admire the view along the way (quite the opposite, by eating your elephant one bite at a time and taking the time to appreciate and enjoy each bite, you eat your elephant and you get to the end still sane.)  I have huge respect for those of you on the other side of the fence to me, and I do sometimes wonder how I would be managing this thing if I'd lost more than I have, and was fully dependent on a caregiver.

 

Hugs

-Heather

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StrokeWife, when Bob first stroked, he couldn't get jokes anymore!   He also couldn't hear rhymes.   I'd ask what rhymes with cat?   and he'd say - cat.   Then me, -no a different word.   Him - dog.    I had to work with him forever to understand rhymes again.    The jokes finally came back too.   I kind of understood it, it's like when you learn a foreign language, the humor is the last thing to get.   I mean, sure you can see if something funny happens, or if it is a normal joke... but I remember watching Sabado Gigante, which was the most popular Saturday show with a huge crowd of people, laughing non-stop about what is being said.   ok.... I understand the words, but what's funny about them?    It's like a cultural humor, things that are unsaid that everyone just knows.      With his stroke, he didn't just know anymore.... and he couldn't follow the story to get to the punchline.   It is really great to have him be able to catch things again, and smile.   I don't think he laughs right aloud though, things are more in slow time for him, so he doesn't get the full reaction, or maybe I'm not that funny!    

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Stroke wife, I was a caregiver for my late husband (stage 4 Lymphoma) for 10 years. I know caregiving a stroke survivor is different. I are one.  I wasn't then. The end goal is never quite the same, however the process is alike in many ways. Just getting thru each day can be a struggle with everything that has to be done on top of the everyday stuff. Its Overwhelming. I was happy to just get thru each day. Fall into bed, sleep, get up, do it again. 

You know turtle soup with a little hare in it is better than elephant. LOL

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Stroke wife, I was a caregiver for my late husband (stage 4 Lymphoma) for 10 years. I know caregiving a stroke survivor is different. I are one.  I wasn't then. The end goal is never quite the same, however the process is alike in many ways. Just getting thru each day can be a struggle with everything that has to be done on top of the everyday stuff. Its Overwhelming. I was happy to just get thru each day. Fall into bed, sleep, get up, do it again. 

You know turtle soup with a little hare in it is better than elephant. LOL

Thank you for the laugh...I am so posting this saying on my fridge...

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