@joy.alliy has inspired me to write a little about family dynamic after stroke. I have four boys and a partner, my mother-in-law lives in a flat next to us, and my partner’s brother lives across from us. It’s a pretty close circle. Other extended family live not so far away. My family, however, are spread over, the closest being in Brecon. The number one factor in what has changed in our dynamic is that I have a brain injury. My partner, bless her, has been very stoic, she’s not mollycoddling by any stretch of the imagination. I had to get up, get my own food, tend to all my own arrangements, and was never offered a cup of tea. I kind of like that though, because I had to fend for myself within a safety net. Instead, I thought, what can I do for her? Within my limitations of course, but it would make the relationship stronger after stroke.
Extended family members were a different kettle of fish, they put a lot of extra expectation and stress on my recovery, and I am sad to say I embroiled in a lot of disagreement with them. Maybe this affects younger stroke survivors more so because they are still in the flurry of familial life’s dramas. Youth tends to give energy to this sort of malarky. However, I can’t be around any of my in-laws at this time. I have closed that curtain for now.
To give an instance, because it is always relatable, my sister-in-law asked my partner if she could look after her two dogs, indefinitely, as she had to work full time. Normally this would be like water off a duck’s back, but I was only a few months into recovery and the addition of two dogs in the house were at first pleasurable but after some time, having to take them for walks and toilet became arduously trying on my fatigue levels. I am a cat person, and during that time I never saw my cats for the dogs were always present. My cats are comforting, loving creatures that give me great pleasure, without them around I felt at the mercy of bounding, playful creatures incompatible with my lifestyle (my cats always hid when the dogs were around). So, I brought this up with my sister-in-law, and stupidly said that busy people “shouldn’t have pets”, well I guess I think that anyway, but before my stroke I wouldn’t have said it outright. It caused a major havoc in the family whisper machine and I was accused of saying something horrendous to my sister-in-law’s children (i.e dogs). Before my stroke, I would, and have had, looked after other people’s pets willingly but I couldn’t manage having them around. It’s not that I didn’t like the dogs themselves, I just couldn’t cope with all the stuff that comes with such a needy animal. This caused a massive rift, and I am still working on repairing it.