I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything, but a lot of stuff has been going on and I finally have the time to sit down and write some updates.
A couple of months ago, sad to say, we were in a bit of a downswing. Cheryl had pretty much plateaued and didn’t really do much all day. She had reached this point where all she did was sit around and watch TV.
It’s not like she was depressed or anything… she wasn’t. There just wasn’t any drive for her to do anything. I felt bad because I felt, as her caregiver, that it was up to ME to try and motivate her, but I was desperate motivation myself. I was knee deep in rewriting a script and didn’t have the time to play cheerleader and personal trainer.
I felt a great deal of guilt because of this. Was she not going to improve because I didn’t have the time to properly engage her?
To say it weighed heavily on my mind would be an understatement.
One day I had taken quite a long walk down by the beach. In Long Beach, there are two different levels: the beach level and the street level. The height difference between both is pretty huge. Periodically, along the path, there are these giant staircases going from the lower level up to the higher level.
These staircases are hotbeds for active junkies. Men and women who add “doing stairs” to their intensive workouts. That being said, I hardly pay attention to these die hards.
Except on this day…
As I was walking along the higher level, I passed the one of these staircases and noticed a man approaching the top. While there was nothing but determination on this man’s face, there was something different about him. He was taking one step at a time, using the rail the whole way, had one of those crutches that extends from the wrist and his other hand was in a device to help his hand straight.
It was obvious that he had a stroke.
I’ve been around enough rehab to know what a stroke looks like. I took a moment to watch the man reach the top of the stairs successfully. It was clearly a goal of his. As I watched him, I had a few different thoughts running through my head:
- Was this his first attempt or his 20th?
- How many times had he gone up and down on this day? Was I witnessing his first successful attempt or was it his 4th on this day?
- Where was he in his rehabilitation? Was this day 1 or day 50?
- He was alone. Had he achieved this goal by himself or did he have help to start with?
- What got him out of bed on this day in particular and decide to tackle these stairs?
As these questions floated through my head as I walked, a darker question creeped into my brain…
Why wasn’t Cheryl this determined?
As I walked the last couple of miles home, I couldn’t;t get the image of this man out of my head. I had wished I had seen the same determination on Cheryl’s face as I had seen on this stranger’s. I then felt guilty that maybe it was my fault.
When Cheryl was first going through rehab, we had scheduled appointments. OT, PT and speech were weekly events both in the home and then followed by outpatient. Once therapy ended due to her insurance, didn’t;t mean that the work she needed to put in was finished.
It was going to be up to her (slash me) to continue the drive to get better. If you’re reading this and you have any experience in caregiving, than you know what a massive undertaking that is.
I spent a lot of time wishing that I had a Cheryl that ventured out and wanted to climb those stairs on her own. I wanted the old school Cheryl that was always like “Fuck you! I got this.”
I wanted to see her drive and determination.
The same drive and determination I saw in this stranger. Maybe, now that I think about it, her having that kind of spunk would make me feel less guilty for not pushing her myself.
As it turned out, we only needed about another month or so for Cheryl to find her drive. It helped that we managed got give her a reason to find her gusto. More on that next time.
TO BE CONTINUED…