May was, as it almost always is, an eventful month for us: the usual holidays (Mother’s Day, Memorial Day), as well as our wedding anniversary (which falls on or near national migratory bird day, hence our wedding theme) and my birthday. Poor Doug has always found May pretty overwhelming, and I can’t say I blame him. That’s a lot to keep track of, but he does a great job of it.
Our anniversary celebration was wonderful with the trip to Palm Springs, and Doug and I also got out and did a lot of riding for Bike Month. I rode 13 days for a total of 119 miles, Doug rode 9 days for 67 miles. He considers his trike to be his other psychologist, and I can attest to the fact that he’s much happier and enthusiastic when he can get out and do his own thing on his own timetable.
As both of us have posted, May was also Stroke Awareness month (my post here, his here). Even though Doug’s stroke was caused by an accident, we understand that prevention is primarily about health – eating well, getting enough sleep, not smoking, and staying fit. Seeing how this event has changed our lives so drastically, I can only say it is worth it to make those things a reality in your life. I can’t think of another health issue that can impact a person and a family in quite the same way. The feeling of loss for a person’s identity and independence can be crippling, in all senses of the word. As a caregiver, you are pulled in so many directions at once, it’s hard to know what to deal with first.
My last thoughts on it are that I continue to ponder how to help others who find themselves in this situation. I wish someone had handed us a guidebook of some kind right at the beginning, so we’d have some idea how to best deal with the medical system, get the most from in- and out-patient rehab and find resources, as well as harness all the goodwill and energy of friends and family. It is all so overwhelming and incomprehensible, that even if you think you are coping well, when you look back on it you see many lost opportunities. I think people should be assigned a life crisis coach during times like this and Doug and I have discussed doing that ourselves, but it’s hard to know where to start.
I think we will find a meaningful way to help other people, as we learn to navigate our lives more and more each day. And continue looking forward to living life as fully as possible, with a summer of activities with friends and family – camping, kayaking with Outdoors for All, bike rides on Vashon, the annual Star Trek in the Park picnic, dinners on the patio and enjoying a few fruits of our labors in the garden. I feel so lucky we are able to enjoy these things together.