Name, John Morgan, occupation, career, hobby, passion, calling, interests, physical pursuits, psychological pursuits, emotional pursuits, short- term, long-term, all-time responsibility - Carer.
At the 2007 Aphasia-Now conference I heard someone say to another "you don’t know what it’s like to live with the after effects of a stroke." Well, believe me, no one knows better than a Carer!
We may not experience aphasia, or find it difficult to walk, we may have use of both our arms and not have to rely on someone else for most of the things we need but we do have to watch and experience someone we love suffering such incapacities and consequent frustrations and I wonder which is worse. For her sake, I am not sure I would swap places with my wife even if I could. She is more sensitive than me, more caring; she would be more upset over finding a bird with a broken wing than I would and I think she would find it too much watching me trying to handle my disabilities if I was the one who had the stroke.
Caring annihilates one's own personality, wipes out ones own interests, hobbies, ambitions. It turns you into a hermit. You lose some of your vocabulary because you do not socialize or hold conversations with anyone. It is not a question of finding (and paying for) someone to sit with one's your cared-for, it is finding someone whom one's cared-for is glad to be with, who can stimulate and/or entertain, not just sit with to watch television.
There is a long period of adjustment and it is surprising how one's life changes slowly into acceptance. I learned after a couple of months that you can sit with your head in your hands or get on with it. The latter is the sensible option.
There is always a constant feeling, sometimes vague, sometimes intense, of grief, of having lost so much.
But, and it is a big but, there is no drifting through life as most people do in middle age, life is intense as a Carer. Exhausting sometimes, exasperating, but intense. My vision of my life is prior stroke and post stroke. My life prior to the stroke (7 yrs ago) was eventful and full, but I can't view it as special in any way, never noble, like most people’s I suppose. I have to say there is an element in my life now and for the last few years that was missing before. I feel that caring, for someone special or for anyone, is not like any other experience. Sometimes I feel strongly that I am doing what I was meant to do. Perhaps what we should all be doing, that the only true vocation is serving, looking after, caring. Everyone’s vocation, to justify our place on the planet is to care; we have no future as a species unless we learn that.
John Morgan passed away 21 December 2012