Thinking back while writing my book, Stroke Victor I realized that Debbie was an excellent caregiver. That doesn’t mean that she did everything for me. Actually, in my view that is not a good caregiver. The survivor must strive for independence to be a Victor and that means that they must learn, or relearn to do things for themselves. This is true for stroke in men and stroke in woman. Find another way if the original approach is not doable after stroke. The caregiver can certainly give close support and perhaps finish a task if at a particular stage the survivor just can’t do the task. But only after a really good “college try”! And the survivor should understand that the next time they try that task they should try to extend their gains with the objective of ultimately finding a way. I can’t tell you how many times I did that while recovering from my stroke.
Last Friday Debbie had some fairly complicated foot surgery. In 1995 a surgeon in New York while removing a bunion had taken too much bone. Over the years and more recently her large toe had shifted significantly allowing the next two toes to likewise shift. She had gotten to the point that she could not wear any shoes without serious pain and had to rely on flip flops. To a large measure you can get away with flip flops in South Florida but that leaves everywhere else at risk and we do travel and also go out where flip flops would be inappropriate. So the surgery!
Coming home from the surgery she could not walk on the damaged foot. We had purchased a rolling scooter so she could get around. This type of equipment allows the injured party to place their injured leg on a seat taking the weight off of the foot. However our roles had suddenly changed with me providing many more services than at any time since the stroke. I am putting the scooter in the car boot and having to serve food etc. You know the drill.
I was making mistakes that I was saying were wrong for a successful caregiver. “Let me do it” has recently been the operative phrase. “I can do it faster” even in my disabled state. But Debbie is always trying to do things herself hopping around on one foot and actively using the scooter. Fortunately her superb fitness in this situation is a substantial advantage so; I am learning to let her do her thing as she let me in the past. Anyway, I have a whole new perspective.
In the book, I said a “toast” to all the caregivers but now I see the role from a completely different perspective. I should have said, a double toast!