On January 28th, 2006, I learned the meaning of this word. I’d heard the word before, but the damaging concept had never hit home until that fateful night when I walked into our house after performing with my group at a wine tasting event to find my husband lying on the floor, drenched in sweat, and barely coherent. The following poem from How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver details the events surrounding my husband’s first stroke and the hopelessness.
Barely coherent, drenched in sweat, he lay on the floor. “What happened?” I asked. His response was unintelligible.
“I don’t need to go to the hospital,” he told the paramedics. “but if my wife wants me to go, I guess I will.”
“The stroke was caused by bleeding on the right side of his brain,” said the doctor. “He may need surgery.”
“In this case, surgery won’t help,” another doctor told us. “We’ll just have to wait and see.”
“He’s not strong enough to participate in our rehabilitation program,” said the social worker. “He’ll have to go to a nursing home.”
“I don’t know how much you’ll recover or how long it will take,” a third doctor said. “Continue the therapy, and watch your blood pressure.”
“We’ll work on strengthening your legs and try to get you up and moving,” the therapist promised him.
“They’ve given up on me. I don’t think I’ll ever walk again.”