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United States
I am no professional and I have no health-care/medical experience or schooling.  However, as a daughter to someone who has had a stroke I find the need/desire to say a few things about that particular medical crisis and how it affects life in general.  When MagicRat mentioned her dog had experienced a stroke I was once again reminded of how terrible such a thing is, and how difficult it is to manage, especially if one knows little to nothing about it.

In my own personal experience, standing on the outside, looking at someone who has endured a stroke, it's heartrending.  I can't imagine how frustrating it is to work so hard to do simple things, like speak or walk or move your hands as you did before, and be completely unable to manage those things.

In caring for my mother, I took note of how frustrated and depressed she was.  Again, I can only imagine and my imaginings I'm sure can't possibly be as terrible as what she has suffered.  My mother is right-handed, or she was before the stroke.  Now, her entire right side refuses to comply with her bidding to the full degree.  She can speak now and walk (with a walker) but she struggles to make her right hand grasp things and her speech, especially if she's tired, is rather difficult to understand sometimes.

I talked with the nurses and doctors about this problem, seeing as how I was going to be the main care-giver once she came home from the hospital.  It was frightening to me.  So much was going to change.  So much needed to be worked on.  And she would need so much care.  However, I was encouraged (as was she), that some things could be made better.  We were also told that it was really unrealistic to expect she would ever be the way she was before.  Not only did it affect her brain and thusly her entire body, but her emotions were involved to a great degree.  Depression.  Annoyance at small things.  Frustration at not being able to function.  Tiredness.  The feeling of helplessness.  It's a real life-changer and I honestly had no idea how much.

In animals, such as MagicRat's Ping, I'm sure it's similar.  The emotions are involved as well as the physical lack of function.  But, it's not a completely hopeless situation and as care-givers/owners of our pets, we should be made aware of that.  For an animal, it would entail a great amount of work, same as it would in a human.  But, you can't tell an animal they need to get up and move, practice walking or moving and you can't completely rid your pet of depression except by spending a great amount of time with him/her.  Being an animal lover, one has to realistically think of the 'quality of life' and whether it is going to be worth it for your pet to put them through the rigors of re-learning to do the simplest of things.  Just how much will he/she be able to do after the therapy is over?  And how much will that therapy cost?  Unfortunately, unlike humans, pets are in their own category.  We love them without limit, yes, but humans come first and if one is lacking in the financial department or the necessary time and ability to spend in re-training your pet, perhaps it is best for them to move on to the next life.  It's a hard decision, yes.  But again, it has to do with the quality of life.

My mother has struggled mightily since her stroke and each day is a challenge in many ways.  She has suffered other medical issues directly linked to the stroke too which has added to her problems.  For a while she worked hard at "getting better" but I very gently reminded her that she mustn't over-do and must come to the realization that no matter how hard she worked, she -might- not be able to do things the way she used to.  She is stubborn and refused to listen to reality and what the doctors told her.  She began to slack off on therapies, both physically working with her limbs and forcing her speech center to work correctly.  It was a downhill battle for a while and as her care-giver, I need to mention that in those times it was very hard to stay up-beat (or at least pretend to be) as well as being stern enough to insist she make more effort.

Basically, a stroke 'zaps' one's brain and short-circuits specific areas.  It's very hard on the brain and because the brain tells the rest of the body what to do, at times a stroke can quite easily kill, telling the heart and/or lungs or other major organs to shut down, or losing the ability to monitor those things as the brain did before.  When it comes to how to work to get past this situation once your loved one has passed the critical stage, I can only urge you to realize that you are not a miracle worker, neither are the doctors and specialists.  Basically, it comes down to the person themselves and just how much work they're willing to put into "getting better".

Speech is a pain in the ass.  It requires a lot of work from our brains that we don't even realize.  You also have to note you need the use of your tongue and vocal chords, your throat and movements of muscles of your jaw.  Those things we take for granted.  In a stroke victim, they're terribly hard to make work correctly again.  It's like trying to talk when your tongue and throat are numb (like when you've gone to the dentist and he's overused a more-than-normal amount of novacaine).  Forcing the tongue to function isn't as hard as it might seem, but making it change to different shapes to form syllables and words is a very annoying bit of work that causes a lot of frustration in the stroke victim.  Lips, teeth and tongue form the words.  The stroke has effectively cut off the use of the pathways to 'correct' muscles to make that happen.  What do we do to help?  We re-route the brain to use other pathways, other muscles, forcing those reluctant ones to move despite themselves.  I watched the therapy nurse with my mother, watched her urge mom to form letters and syllables and words that (to me) sounded silly.  But, forming "L" and "B" and other letters that require a little more effort caused mom a lot of frustration.  She sounded silly making those noises and we made it a game.  She'd basically be blowing raspberries at me (while we both tried not to laugh) but it was actually working those muscles, forcing the brain to re-route and thus she was able to speak a bit clearer.

As far as physical work and therapies go, that, too is frustrating for the victim and takes a lot of work, a lot of time and a hefty amount of patience in all concerned.  After all, the nurses could spend an hour with mom then leave and go on their merry way.  Me?  I had to deal with her annoyances and help her work constantly else she'd be bed-ridden and that wouldn't be in anyone's best interests.  Was it hard?  Hell yes.  It was terrible for everyone.  And it still is to a certain degree.  But, she's much more mobile than she used to be, definitely more than she was when she came home from the hospital.  And yet she still can't get her hand to grasp with any force (picking up things) and she still tends to drag her right leg if I'm not there to prod her to bend her knee and pick it up.  It's a regular, constant battle against a body that has been abused by a stroke, forced into a situation that it was not built for.  And surrounding all this is a sense of helplessness and frustration, aggravation which sometimes goes beyond the ability to comprehend to us who live with her.  It causes days of refusal to get out of bed, the expectation of others to do for her because she 'can't do it' herself, days of depression and anxiety that seem neverending...and she continues on, as do we all.

In a pet, our friend whom we have spent so many loving hours with, its a hard decision to make to put our pet down, or however you want to put it.  But, one has to realize that quality of life for a pet can be the deciding factor in many situations.  After all, a dog who can't play fetch as he had before, who can't eat and drink successfully and thus is hooked to an IV, or one who simply lies there unable to communicate his wishes, is one sad and frustrated pet, one who is depressed and upset about how his life has suddenly turned to complete shit overnight.  Because a pet is more difficult to communicate with, we are unable to get exact desires and problems diagnosed, it might be best for your loving friend to find happiness in another realm of existence.  Be honest with yourself.  Would he want to linger, unable to function, while at the same time worrying you constantly?  You know your pet.  You understand that he loves you just as much as you love him.  And he doesn't want to worry and upset you anymore than you want to do the same to him.  Deep down, he will understand whatever choice you make.  You know he will.  And it's my belief that you'll both meet in another life which can be a comfort for those left behind.  I would not deign to say that putting down a pet would be a better choice, only that its something the person has to decide for their pet and we, as friends and loved ones, should support them in whatever decision they make.

I began this to be a little helpful (hopefully?) in information about strokes and how it affects those around the patient/victim.  It's a hard road to traverse, to be sure, not only for the stroke victim but for everyone who cares about that person.  The same goes for pets and how that situation affects the owner/companion human.  It's difficult and its worrisome and yet there are specific things we can do to help.  The work ahead for someone who takes on trying to help a pet to regain functionality after a stroke is intense.  Make no mistake, it's going to be hard and time-consuming to a great degree.  Plus, there is no guarantee that your pet will ever regain functionality as he had before.  That is simply a reality of the condition, unfortunately.  Nonetheless, whatever decision you make, I trust it will be for the best for everyone involved.

There is no question of our love for our pets, really, hm?  We love them as much as we love our own family members (sometimes more, in certain cases, lol).  And making that decision is always hard, whichever way you go.  As for me, I'd like to put myself out there for my friends, to remind them that I'm around and am here to talk to, vent to, listen to rants and raves and terrible moments of depression and annoyance.  I know what its like to endure this, from the outside, and I hope I am never a victim myself.  It's a terrible condition, but it can be surpassed both by the victim and those who are care-givers and well as family and friends.  Your friend, family member, loved one hasn't become someone else, they've just endured a solitary moment of pure hell and their body has suddenly refused to work as it did before.  It entails a great amount of physical difficulties but one must not forget the emotional ones too.  Enduring it all, whether a victim or care-giver, is hard and support from friends and family is important for both.  I'm here.  I know how hard it is.  I know how frustrating it is for both.  And there's a plethoria of information, real, true medical information out there about strokes.  This is just my personal view by one who has seen it up-close and personal.  It's not pretty...but it can be overcome.

For those who have endured a stroke, you have my admiration simply by still being here.  Stay strong and don't give up.  For those who are care-givers both of stroke victims and people who have suffered medical issues, you too are inspirational and have my utmost respect.  For those who have never endured such a thing, my hopes and dreams are that you never have to.  Strokes are life-changing but they can be overcome in many ways and life can still be productive and worth living even after such a thing.  Don't forget that.  People are sometimes quick to say that someone who is incapable of speaking clearly or who suffers injury or disease that makes them unable to function 'normally' are useless to the rest of the world.  How dare you assume to understand that and make such a pronouncement.  You have no idea what goes on in the mind of an artist who once was able to weild a brush with great ability but who now has suffered a debilitating illness.  Unless you have endured the same, don't assume to understand or pronounce someone worthless.  Ever.

(These comments and views are completely my own and come from personal experience...I do not profess to be a professional in any medical or care-giving field of expertise.  I'm simply a daughter who struggles daily to help a loved one who endured a debilitating stroke.)

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MagicRat Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2015
Part One of your fic will be up tonight. :)
archonproject Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
:squee:  I can't wait!  :hug:
MagicRat Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2015
It's up now!
archonproject Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
YAAAAAY!  It's GREAT! FABULOUS! WONDERFUL! EXCELLENT! BRILLIANT!  Thanx so very much!  :cuddle:  Sorry I was late to the party but I actually fell asleep (and when I -can- sleep, I do).
(1 Reply)
RizaKiryu Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2015  Student Traditional Artist
I love your art work and stories.

Please check out my raffle.
You don't have to if you don't want to.
Kyruto-Chan Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Hi! Long time so see! *glomps*
archonproject Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Halo!  :iconchwomp:
Kyruto-Chan Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Hello! :)
Enide-Dear Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2014
Thank you for the watch dear! *bows and removes imaginary hat with a flourish*
kaazebrabeads Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for adding me to your deviant watch....
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