By: Lori Lane Murphy
Summer started with a bang for me the first of June.
My husband and best friend had a stroke. He’s ok. No lasting physical damage, but there are certainly some psychological ones we are both trying to manage.
If I’m honest, it’s mostly me that’s dealing with the psychological aftermath and he’s dealing with how my dealing is not being dealt with very well. Paul is a pragmatic, logical, stoic kind of guy with a wicked wit and steadying presence. How he got saddled with someone with the attention span of a panic induced hummingbird is a question not worth asking.
After getting through the hospital and a short leave from work (doctor’s orders), he is back at it and feels better than he did before. At least, that’s what he tells me. The stroke scared him just enough to get him back to the gym and back to thinking about healthy eating habits. These are good for the whole family and while I wish he didn’t have to involve a terrifying trip to the emergency room, it’s ended up a positive thing.
Now, I think that would be a nice ending to the story. We were scared, Paul dealt with it like a champ, we learned important things about his health and we have a plan. All good. The problem is, I can’t stop staring at him while he’s eating, watching t.v., on his tablet, walking the dogs or sleeping. It’s creepy. I know. I tell myself to stop all the time. He is patient, but even he has limits.
Trouble is, with my many diagnoses, dealing calmly with life altering events is not my strong suit. Boy, I wish it were. I mean, I am emotionally there for my husband, no doubt. I dealt with the paperwork, the doctor’s appointments and his mother (shudder) all in the name of love. I am an adult. It’s what life is all about and a big part of the responsibility of being in a relationship with someone other than yourself.
Now that the smoke has cleared a bit, my nerves are completely exposed. I was able to run on adrenaline in the early days and fall into bed in an exhausted slumber. Things are heading back into my usually preferred state, routine. Except now, my routine includes jumping out of my skin every time Paul takes too long between breaths or lets out an inordinately long sigh. I fly across the room convinced he is slumping over to one side even if he’s just dozing in his chair. He dropped his keys last week outside our van and when he bent to pick them up, I am almost sent him back into the hospital with a concussion by swinging open the driver’s side door thinking he’s collapsed with another stroke.
I can’t, we can’t, go on like this. The good news is that I know me. He knows me. We are aware that, believe it or not, I can deal quite masterfully with crisis as it occurs. I’ve dealt with plenty of them over the years. Where I fall down is the aftermath. The what could have beens and the what ifs. My anxiety, panic, depression and bipolar disorder give me plenty of ways to worry about the future. I think too much, worry to much, panic too much, project too much, withdraw too much and just plain too much too much. I’m too much.
I love my husband and need him to be and stay healthy for many years to come. We have a family and friends who want him around too. However, the truth is, I need him to stay around because who else is going to put up with me? And let’s face it. It’s all about me ;)