I’m just back from the city, spent with my friend S who had a stroke eight months ago. She looks much better, is starting to string more words together, but bottom line, her life is permanently altered. She had to resign from her incredible job, something that really defined her and one at which she excelled. Her adult daughter became her primary caregiver, leaving her own job to care for her mother. Not that this is relevant, but there’s never been a husband in the picture. Her parents are deceased. There’s a sister and a few good friends. And now healthcare aides who come every day to make lunch for her and walk with her to run errands or go to doctors appointments. The daughter has gone back to work, thankfully, so S has made enough improvements to be alone in the apartment. I asked her why the doctors insist her aides go with her on all her neighborhood errands – grocery, bank etc., and don’t allow S to her to run her own chores. S wasn’t sure but as she tried to explain it, what I got out of her words was that the doctors don’t feel her ability to speak is strong enough and they worry she’ll be unable to ask for something wherever she is. I scratched my head at this one, thinking to myself that how does one improve if you aren’t out there trying to string together sentences together. Gosh S has lived in this apartment on the UES for maybe thirty years and all the storekeepers know her, so so what if she can’t ask for her cleaning or forgets the words to ask for a half pound of ham. Those store employees are going to help her, not ignore or mock her.
It’s all very strange to me how her post-stroke care is being handled. I don’t understand it one bit and I feel badly that she’s home all day every day except for the times her aides come. I asked S if she felt she could walk to a movie theater alone, or walk up to the Met. Or over to Central Park and sit in the sun. She hesitated with her answer, which I took as a No, that she’s not feeling capable enough to venture out alone. Yet, we were able to carry on a decent enough conversation about all sorts of things, even Hillary Clinton (yes, S is a huge fan of Hillary).
I asked her if it’s hard to keep her emotions in check – I mean, for now, she literally has no life, other than being cared for. Yes, she’s alive and all, I get it, but S
is was one of the most gregarious talented women I know. That S is gone. S said she does struggle with how her life is now – she understands enough to know that one moment in time changed things forever, but I don’t think her brain has enough cognitive skill to be depressed. She can’t read much yet, she gets confused with the words in a book or forgets the plot or characters, so she watches TV, a lot of TV she said.
We had a fun time together despite all, walking around the neighborhood, having lunch out, gabbing a ton.
I brought her some gladioli from the garden and she had no idea what to do with them – I had to find a glass and fill it with water. And here’s the really funny part – she had NO CLUE why I brought her eggplant and peppers. 🙂 🙂 🙂
I cried on the way home, until the last mile when I woke out of my funk quickly – some asshole on Greenwich Road, texting or dialing, came STRAIGHT AT ME ACROSS THE YELLOW LINE – I sat on my horn and the idiot looked up in time to swerve back to his side. One split second more and I would have been hit hard. It’s almost worse when you can see it coming. Connecticut plates, dark blue Honda CRV. It shook me to my core, and my legs were weak the moment I got home and out of the garage. But then I realized that I was fine. I am fine. Life is good. I have my health. I have my mind. I have a roof over my head. The kids are good. Mr. EOS is good. My mother is happy. Who cares if the landline doesn’t work??
So the moral of the story kids, be happy with what you got because you could lose it in one moment.
Time for a drink. Make mine a double.