Today started out okay, nothing particularly special. I woke up to having female problems and Brian, my husband, made us coffee. I had my usual two cups and a couple of ibuprofens, then put supper in the crock pot and was given the luxury of climbing back into bed. It was later on in the day when I got up and was on my way to the kitchen and in passing, stopped a moment for a hug from Brian. He asked me what was wrong and nothing was wrong, it was simply one of those days when I just needed hugging. It was then I noticed something different. Both of his arms, left and right, were snugly wrapped around me.
My husband had his stoke before we met. In the beginning, we started chatting online. We talked for weeks, gradually getting to know each other through IM’s and Emails. Both of us were hesitant to meet. I didn’t know about his stroke or his fears about my reaction to it. I was worried over his reaction to me. I’m a big girl and often my weight has been an issue with previous, would-be relationships. Come to find out, he was hesitant as well, only for different reasons.
Our first date, we hit it off famously. It was Christmas Eve and neither one of us had anyone to go home to. We sat at the park and talked for the longest time. Later on, we hugged. Only his left arm was around me. I put the right one around me and it stayed there for quite a while. I didn’t know what he was thinking at that moment…but I felt safe. That was a new beginning for both of us. We married soon after.
At first, I didn’t pay much attention to the difficulties he had with daily living. Even the first date, I didn’t pay much attention to him eating breakfast with his left hand instead of his right or the slowness of his gait. There was a lot I didn’t know and even more that I didn’t understand. I made a lot of mistakes at the start.
It has been almost 2 ½ years to date. Living with a stroke survivor has its moments when it tests both of us. I was not there when he had his stroke or when he was going through the initial rehab PT and OT therapies. He did that completely on his own. Something I can’t begin to imagine having to deal with. He has had moments when he gets frustrated over not being able to do things that he used to take for granted. I know there are moments when he believes himself less of a man because he only has use of one arm and one hand.
There is the sensitivity to noise and I like to talk too loud sometimes. Then there were moments like last month, when I was in a hurry and used a pre-packaged seasoning mix to go in ground beef for supper and his blood pressure shot up. Last year, when the water pump went out on the truck, he helped me fix it. He commented later that he should have been able to do it himself and if he had both hands, he could have changed it out in an hour or so rather than the almost whole day that it took me.
Sometimes, he gets frustrated and he just yells and his language gets colorful. Sometimes, I bite back and other times, I grab my headphones and my MP3 player and go find a quiet place to sit. There are also moments when I turn to my support group. A group of wonderful people that have been gracious enough to let me vent and offered suggestions and insight as to how to better understand Brian’s side of having lived through the battle of what we call the “Stroke Monster”. Afterwards, he always feels bad and I feel bad as well. We apologize to each other and hug.
Today’s two armed hug, though, would seem a small thing to most. To me, it was a giant of a step. I smiled as he hugged me…this two armed hug…I buried my face in his chest and I breathed him in. He is a man. He is my man and I still feel safe…
Last Modified June 22, 2009 @ 2:15 pm