Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Blog Post # 5
            A previous post was entitled “The demon does not get to win”, and, while that is still true, he may have won A single battle: I slip often into short periods of time when I dwell on the past (this, only in part, has anything to do with the stroke) The what ifs in my life oftentimes loom large and can threaten to take over the stroke survivor’s life.
A physiotherapist I had in Halifax said she and her kids call the ’what ifs’, wufs, (The wufs became a great source of laughter to the breakfast table as they all discussed various possible wufs in the physiotherapist’s job forum).
One therapy suggestion my psychotherapist gave was that when dwelling on past events too much, I should mentally go back to that girl in my memory who was hurt and abandoned and speak in my mind to her, giving her support and letting her know that the future worked out ok, not unlike Brad Paisley’s hit song “letter to me”.
It may sound a bit quirky, but it does, in fact, work for easing anxiety.     

   Sandee, taming the Demon 

In my particular situation, certain ‘wufs’ called into question my conscious control over events in my life, whether or not I could have controlled them. I have found it very easy, and still would, to sink into that place and be enveloped as if in an old feather mattress.  Limited mobility often gives one too much time to think.
Following my stroke and the loss of all mobility on my left side, I wanted very much, as you can imagine, to get better and get back that part of me that had been taken so abruptly by the stroke (If I hadn’t mentioned it in a previous post, I had my stroke in the very early morning hours of June5,2009 while I was asleep ( so, I guess, abruptly is the correct term no symptoms, no warnings). I had heard so much about the Nova Scotia Rehabilitation Centre, that, of course, I wanted to go there to recover as quickly as possible.
            While in Kentville hospital, where, I was deposited as an “acute” patient immediately after the stroke. I worked hard to recover some of what had been taken so abruptly and I finally achieved a “score” that would allow me entrance into rehab, I even started writing again (now, surprisingly effortlessly with my right hand, when previously I had been left handed).
The ambulance ride to Halifax had me filled with a fear I had not known before, even though I should have been in la la land as I had my fair share of Morphine in me, prescribed for the complex regional pain syndrome the stroke had left me with (and some unpleasant side effects).  But on the up side, I came out on top, without a doubt, with just a little bit of re-learning to do, and no, the stroke didn’t take everything. I was left with all the people who love me.  My husband, Kent, and my youngest step-daughter, Stephanie, followed close behind and were both with me when I was express-admitted into rehab. They both helped me get settled into my new temporary “home” still so scared I almost didn’t know what was happening. Mercifully, I was finally in a hospital bed, Kent on my left, holding my hand. Steph, on my right doing the same. 
Then I watched them both as they moved toward the door .I thought again, with tears running down my face as Kent’s white-shirted back moved into, then through, the doorway, “They really are going to leave me here”.  As hard as I tried not to, I started to cry and told Steph, “I just want to go home, too”. She nodded, giving me that beautiful, infectious smile. (She is proof-positive that there are angels on this earth, she was obviously sent down by God, himself, to be there for me through this interruption in life). 
I spent the most lonely, unhappy eight weeks of my life in Room 729 on the 7th floor of the NS rehab centre. Kent visited as often as he could and called twice a day, my parents called every evening. My sister and nephew, Callam were faithful visitors. Callam really “got into” my recovery and noticed even the smallest  improvement, cheering me on and giving me all the helpful tips his 11-year-old mind could conjure up I even gained enough mobility  to go to one of his soccer games. Yet, I was still so very lonely.  I knew I needed to be here to get better, but, I knew that Kent was lonely too, holding the fort down at home, alone. Both the afflicted person and the partner are both feeling a tremendous sense of purposelessness. The only difference being that the former has the benefit of myriad of doctors and therapists to use as sounding boards. The latter must use whatever resources he can muster from within to stave off utter insanity!
My mind pauses and goes back several years to a tine that has become a wuf got me. Just about ‘what if’ everything, if we’d only known that Kent  would develop lung cancer, if I had nagged him harder about  smoking. etc. (he actually does listen to me once in a while. He’ll deny it, if you say anything!).
Another wuf…through no fault of our own, to my knowledge, we became estranged from a dear friend who we love very much and who had been very close to Kent for about 30 years .In the interim, he had a serious illness that forced the amputation of his left leg a few inches below the knee and went to rehab in Fredericton. His “wife” at the time chose the very selfish path. He tells now of how lonely he was in rehab and afterward when he could not leave the house, his wife wouldn’t even take him for a drive!  I feel bad, knowing now full well what he was going through, and, although I had the loving support of my husband, step-daughters and parents, how lonely I was even with their support! Thinking of this is one of those times when I think of the wuf. What if I’d been in our friend’s position, without the massive support of my partner and love? (I guess I’d now be seeing more than a psychotherapist!!! 
I, now, want to be a support for someone else who, for whatever reason, needs another human being to be there for them, by their side, to explain what’s going on… to just listen and who knows what it means to truly, be down-heart lonely. I intend to volunteer on the 7th floor of rehab when my mobility increases more. So, even though, the demon may have made inroads, he will never overtake me. He will never get to win!! I have so very much going for me: I’m independent, determined (my dad calls it stubborn), I have a man who loves me and has through all of our good times and, even more importantly, through our bad times, of which we’ve had more than our fair share.   I have my wonderful friend, Anna,* who continues to support me and cheer me with her visits and her great sense of humour. And I have something the demon didn’t count on when he engaged me in this war: I have my two beautiful intelligent step-daughters and three terrific grandsons.  And, I will cook again! The demon suddenly lost all his odds.
Stay healthy and safe!

 *name changed for privacy reasons


  1. Good for you, Sandi - how far you've come as you overcome your fears and lonliness! You'll go such a long way with your awe-inspiring determination!

    I, too, am so privileged to know "Anna" - how lucky we are to have such a delightful and faithful friend in our lives who motivates us to be the best we can be!

    I remember a depressing, lonely and empty part of my life when my ex and I decided to part ways. At the time, I made the decision, like you, to embrace those negative feelings and make them work towards positive outcomes. That was when I tossed the anti-depressants aside, turned to family and friends for support and felt myself enveloped with warmth and love.

    I still fall into the soft comfort of days gone by, thinking of the way things used to be, and of loved ones long gone. This is happening more frequently and I was starting to worry somewhat until I read your blog. Now I'm thinking that these are normal "streams of consciousness", especially at this stage of life. Thinking back to the wonderful people and events that have shaped our lives is also how we make decisions for the future. These thoughts are likely giving you the strength of character to keep fighting in such a positive way!

    Here endeth my epistle......keep up the good work!


  2. Hi, Sandi - I used the wrong e-mail address to post my last comment - that's why it started off "David said" instead of "Kathy said".