I have been going to that support group often on since my stroke 2 3/4 years ago. There are the "regulars." They are wonderful stroke survivors, and I have gotten to know them pretty well.
This week was different. The “regulars” (as I call them) shared their stories. However several new stroke survivors and their caregivers shared their compelling stories.
A woman in her mid-40s seems very normal. For the outside world, she seems "just fine" because of her outward appearance.
But after the meeting we talked about recovery possibilities and limitations. We both know how people treat us differently since our strokes. Because we look fine, people assume our recovery is complete. We are NOT complete. Until you have a stroke (or two like me!), people just cannot understand the emotions we go through in our daily lives.
Another new stroke survivor shared his emotional story. He is very successful and an alpha male. Like me, he was “in charge,” a leader and accomplished in every way.
However, since his stroke, the emotional toll he is experiencing is similar to mine. He is just getting used to his “new normal.” He needs help just to do basic life skills. You feel like you are less of a man in many ways. You never needed any help at all, and, out of the blue, you cannot do anything alone.
Two other recent stroke survivors, talked about their limitations and their depression.
The roads they are going on are difficult. Their journey is just starting and they had no idea their life would take this awful difficult turn. I'm grateful that my strokes are behind me even though I know I will never be the same.
But I've had almost 3 years to deal with the aftermath. The most recent stroke survivors are still dealing with the question of “why me?" Their anger is raw, palpable and understandable.
I'm not sure when I turned the corner realizing that I had to accept my strokes and get on with life. Is my emotional recovery after my strokes resignation or acceptance? Is there a difference?
I am hopeful that I can help with these recent stroke survivors. They are “survivors,” but they just don't know it yet.