Don Can Still Drive

We wondered what Don’s doctor would say. Would he sign the form the Department of Public Safety periodically requires, that allows Don to continue his driving privileges? With meds, he has been seizure free for over twenty years, so that is not the issue. But, the form came just after we heard Don’s abdominal aortic aneurysm has again grown. Would that affect the doctor’s choice?

Driving adds immensely to Don’s quality of life. But we knew we had to accept his doctor’s judgment. So as we waited for Don’s appointment this morning, we had both worked it through in our minds  to trust the doctor to make the safe and right choice. We were both relieved and happy to see him sign the paper. Don can still drive!

Don has a few more tests, and then next week he will visit the vascular surgeon. The doctor today reassured us he had already talked with the nurse practitioner we saw in Vascular Surgery last week.

This morning we heard the answer to the lesser of our questions. Next Tuesday Don’s surgeon will discuss the bigger question about what may need to be done about the aneurysm. We are fortunate to have excellent medical professionals care for Don at an renowned medical institution.

What helps us cope and gives us hope: When we face looming news or decisions, we try to mentally wrestle until we can accept outcomes at either end of a spectrum of possibilities.

Questions for our readers:  What helps you cope with impending news or decisions? Do you recall a time when you wrestled through a spectrum of possible outcomes?  How did that help you or not help you cope?

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Aim Toward the Future, Not the Past

Don used to tell his clients, “If you tell yourself, ‘I don’t want to be like my mother – I don’t want to be like my mother – I don’t want to be like my mother,’ before you know it, you will be just like your mother. Instead, you need to turn 180 degrees and  focus on the kind of mother you want to be. Then there will be hope you can break away from a bad example.”

It’s the same with living in the past. If we always long to be like we were before the stroke or some other tragedy, we will never move on in life. We will only make ourselves miserable. We need to aim at what we want our future to be like. Disability does not have to dictate an end to having joy and meaning in life. THERE IS LIFE AFTER DISABILITY.

What Helped Us Cope and Gave Us Hope: We had to acknowledge our past life was gone and would never return. We needed to let it go and then try to develop our new, post-stroke life. That released us from the miserable trap of longing for something that was not going to happen. Of course, we are tempted to dwell on our memories, but when we are grateful for the good in our past life and then turn around to develop our new life, we find hope and joy.

Question for Our Readers:  Do you sometimes struggle with longing for how things used to be? What helps you escape those thoughts and move on?

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Don’s Stroke: twenty-three years ago today

Twenty-three years ago today, March 19, 1991, Don had a stroke that changed our lives forever. We don’t celebrate the anniversary, but when it comes, we remember. That was a terrible day in our lives.

Don had two TIAs the day before so was admitted to the hospital for observation. When the boys and I left him that evening, he had no abnormal symptoms and told me to call in the morning to see what time I should pick him up.

When Don finally picked up the phone on the 19th, he spoke to me in profoundly garbled words. Minutes later when I burst into Don’s hospital room, my forty-year-old husband looked like an eighty-year-old man clinging to the edge of life. The rest is our story: shock, pain, loss, love, fear, family, friends, God, rehab, recovery, deficits, choices, compensation…

We eventually discovered there is life after stroke. It’s different than we planned, but life is still good.   The stroke was a terrible event, and yet when we look back over twenty-three years, we see countless wonderful events and relationships that have added meaning and joy to our lives.

What helps us cope and gives us hope: We acknowledge our pain and loss and then think of all we still have.

Question for our readers: When you look back at change and loss in your life, does it help to think of the good things you have also experienced?