First, I applaud you for your strength and perseverance. I can relate to your story as my family struggles are similar to yours. My perception however is that from the other side, from the eyes of someone who was recently disabled.
I have always been the sole provider for my family. My wife and I had always considered ourselves lucky in that she could be a stay at home mom. Life was great! Three growing intelligent boys, 2 dogs, the whole package.
Then it all ended abruptly a little over a year ago, when I had a mild stroke out of nowhere. At the age of 42 I have suffered with PTSD for nearly two decades. Now I find myself here. Struggling to come to grips with what happened. One of the main issues I struggle with is guilt.
My PTSD had been under control with lots of support, both within and from outside of my family structure. Since having the stroke I now have moments of anger and rage, uncontrolled outbursts that include arguments with my wife about nothing. It all comes from not understanding why this happened to me.
My biggest fear is to be left alone with this crippling disability. While I can relate and understand your trials and tribulations. I see it from the other side. I am the one who is dependent and can no longer provide for my family. I also have to live with something far worse than my medical conditions. Guilt.
When my oldest son recently left for college. It left me angry at him. Simply because I felt as though he left me behind. While I know that was not his reasoning, I still had my moments. That led to many disruptive days at home. Leaving me with an everlasting guilt for even thinking like that.
Since the stroke, along my with other medical conditions. I have not been able to work. So now we struggle financially everyday. Leading to even more guilt. My wife has taken on being my caregiver. Whether it’s caring for me during night sweats accompanied by tremors, to helping me get dressed. That leaves me with a certain level of guilt as well.
My wife could easily have just moved on and left me behind, but she has stuck with me and cares for myself and our other two boys. While I consider myself lucky to have her, I also feel some guilt for limiting what she may be able to accomplish in her life.
At this point, I feel as though I will leave this earth before she will. Although, it’s quite possible I can still live a full life. I have serious doubts that are my own. Yet I feel compelled to make this a long and full life. For my kids and for my wife who I can not fail. It is possible, and I know I can do it. I just have to stop feeling guilty. Which is very hard.
Just writing this is hard enough, but I do so in the hopes that people can undertsand both sides of the same coin. I hate what this has brought upon my family. On the same note, I thank my wife and the loyal spouses of millions of others. Like you, who have chosen to care for those they love.
I have never told my story for fear of being judged. In the age of ‘social-media’ it is very anti-social in that people in general, are just assholes. Your story has inspired me to tell just this tiny portion of what I wish I could say.
Yet I probably never will for fear of people being judgemental towards myself and my family. I can not take on anymore of this guilt that I bear.
Thank you for your bravery in posting your story. It gives me hope. And maybe one day I’ll find the strength, like you to tell my story.
You certainly inspired me to post this.