I was a skeptic on the topic of support groups. I knew people who attended such meetings but always felt I was strong enough and independent enough to go it alone; and, in fact, for the first approximately 6 months following my husband’s stroke in early February of this year, that is what I did. I had some help from his family but found his sister, specifically, to be very problematic in terms draining more of my energy than was already being sucked out by virtue of 24/7 caregiving. I have friends but when push came to shove, they had their own lives; and none of our family lives close by.
My husband’s speech therapist suggested we/I check in to the Long Beach Chapter of the Stroke Association but what with one thing and another, it took a while. Finally, we attended a meeting. What an experience – realizing toughness and independence have their place but there is nothing that compares with the loving, understanding, and non-judgmental support this group of caregivers – and stroke survivors – offers without hesitation and without any personal agenda.
My husband finds being with other survivors very helpful and often inspiring. I find my time with the caregivers is often the most important, valuable, and comforting time of the entire experience of being a stroke survivor’s total support. In an instant these women became dear friends and cherished compadres. We share each other’s sorrows, gain from each other’s happiness – when it occurs – and embrace each other without question or personal need. I have my own health challenge to deal with on top of everything else and these caring people have prayed for me, for us, and care about me, us. What a gift! Has it depleted my capacity to be a skeptic? No. Has it been an immeasurable gift? Yes.”
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