The first year in our new smaller home was hard for Charlene. It was three years after her stroke, and she was still suffering from the loss of her big beautiful home, her car and her close friends at church. But after her parents moved out, she started feeling more in control of her life again.
Her mother was a very good caregiver with a great deal of experience taking care of both her parents and her husband’s mother as they became sicker with the onslaught of age. However, there are two different types of caregiving styles. Her mother was one type and I was the other. She would always get everything for Charlene that she needed, making it unnecessary for her to do anything for herself.
I was told by an occupational therapist that the best kind of caregiving is where you help the patient to learn to do for themselves, as opposed to always coming to their rescue when they are struggling for something. In essence, her mom would mother Charlene while I acted more like her coach.
For example, her mother would always immediately get something for her that she was struggling to reach, whereas, I would say, “come on, you can do it. Stretch a little more and you can reach it.” Her mother thought I was cruel when I made her struggle for things like that. But it forced her to become the very independent person she is today, and not a dependent, or needy person who required constant 24/7 care. I should say here that Charlene appreciated all that her mother did for her, because she made it very comfortable for her, especially when she wasn’t particularly in the mood for therapy.
However, being a gourmet cook, she was very anxious to get back in the kitchen again. Her mother would cook all of the meals and thought that Charlene couldn’t or shouldn’t have to cook at all because of her disability. I’m not criticizing her mom — that’s just the type of caregiver she is. It works really well if your patient is bedridden, like her parents were. It is just not the best type of care for someone who is rehabilitating from a stroke. Therapy is hard work and aggressively pushing Charlene to do more than she thought she could do didn’t always make me her most favorite person at times.
It is painful to watch someone go through physical and occupational therapy, watching them struggle, and feeling guilty for not helping them. We are very thankful for her mom’s help. It would have been very difficult in the beginning without it.
Since her mother has moved out, Charlene now cooks
all of the meals, and prepares dinner parties regularly. It is much more different to cook since her disability, of course, but she does it and does it very well. She loves cooking, and it gives her a purpose in life — making people happy by feeding them great food.
She also does all of the housework: cleaning, laundry, decorating and organizing. In fact, I can’t think of anything that she cannot do, which is amazing, considering she only has use of one arm, one leg, and 100 words!
This is just a another chapter of my book “One Arm One Leg 100 Words, Overcoming Unbelievable Hardships”. You can buy the book by clicking this link. And surely, you will not stop reading it from the beginning till the end of this book.