Struggling as a partner

Hi all,

After my partners’ TIA in november I have been really struggling mentally. Im trying to support him as much as possible as he makes lifestyle changes & changes with work etc, but I am gripped with the fear that a stroke is round the corner for him. The worry is debilitating and it is there all the time. I feel like im living in fear and always will be now.
I feel awkward to say how bad its making me feel as there are people that are dealing with massive strokes on here and what my husband had was relatively minor in comparison. I should perhaps be grateful it wasnt worse for him.

I have tried CBT for the worry and also on sertraline, im not sure if there is anything else I can try. Im waiting for 121 talking therapy support.

We have 2 young children (partner is an older dad at 58 :slight_smile: ), and I just dont want anything to happen to our family unit. I know there are no guarantees with anything in life. I know that worrying wont get me anywhere, but im petrified.

My partner has revamped his diet, stopped drinking and started addressing stress levels. He is trying to stop vaping and has yet to do any real exercise.
He is on clopidrogel and a statin, his consultant said his risk now is lower than before the TIA happened, as he is on meds and made changes. I have dwelled on this statement a lot, as I thought having a TIA increases risk of stroke…or is this if you are untreated?

Sorry to ramble, also thanks to EmeraldEyes, SimonInEdinbirgh and Mrs5k who always offer such supportive responses.

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Hi @Karenemma hopefully your counselling will help you. Try searching YouTube for mindfulness breathing techniques I find this helps.
I know it’s a worry for you but you have to trust in the medication and lifestyle changes. The TIA has been a warning.
I am 56 was on medication for hypertension when I had my Lacunar stroke Christmas time 2023. BP was high and diagnosed type 2 diabetic as well. Now on Clopidogrel, Atorvastatin and metformin. I have had to change diet, exercising more. Just completed 1week BP monitoring and results are good. Stroke nurse told me the likeliest cause was due to BP.
I do worry but have to have the faith that I am gonna be ok now I have had a full MOT.
Sending you :people_hugging: and hope his recovery goes well.

Steve

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Hi @Karenemma

I really don’t think you should feel guilty over the stress this has caused you. I think that when one family member is injured, all are injured, possibly in different ways. I had a stroke 4 years ago, but got off very lightly, with no physical symptoms at all. Of course, the fear I might have another, with worse consequences, is there. I don’t know if this helps, but I take some comfort from taking blood thinners. I take Clopidogrel too. My thinking is that with the thinners, it’s very unlikely I’ll have another. I’m not always brill at taking my meds, but the Clopidogrel is a definite. I’m also bipolar. My mood is good now and has been for some time, which we’re all pleased about. On the subject of those looking after others, I read a piece by Alex Jones she wrote when her husband was ill. She said she found it hard to be “the only functioning adult”. This rang a bell for me. It must be how my wife feels when my mood is low. Stuff I can’t do, she picks up without question, but it does take a toll on her. We’ve had arguments in the past, mostly due to the pressure it puts on her. Despite me stinging and feeling guilty, I do understand and appreciate her position. It’s not her fault, or mine, it’s just a bit erm… crap. For everyone. I’d like to suggest you do something for yourself. You know, something just for you. Looking after someone else can drain your batteries, nice and slow, without you even noticing.
Just my 2 pennorth…

Cheers

Steve

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@Karenemma sorry to hear you are struggling. We often forget how difficult it is for the partner / carer of those that are ill.

It sounds like you are seeking help & support in all the right places & hopefully in time that will provide you some reassurance. I know sertraline can sometimes make you feel worse before it makes you feel better.

Your partner is on the right treatment & yes that should lower his risk of a full stroke but as you’ve said no one can ever say it’ll never happen. But then many things can happen that we never give a thought to. Your partner has made changes for the better by the sounds of it & apart from increasing his activity level there is nothing more he can really do.

Try & focus on the positives - he has had a warning & taken heed & hopefully that will be it. No one wants a full stroke but we are all testament to the fact that even if it does happen we can get through it.

Try & find things to distract your thoughts away from TIAs/Strokes. Do things as a family that you enjoy & take time to do things you enjoy too away from your family.

I remember my GP saying to me, following a nasty car accident, that in time I will think less about the accident & put it in a metaphorical box & close the lid. He said the lid would lift occasionally but I’d be able to shut it back down again. I thought he was talking rubbish but he was right. In time that’s exactly what happened.

It’s not been that long since his TIA yet so give it a bit of time it will get easier.

Best wishes

Ann xx

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Things will get easier, @Karenemma.
There will always be a slight nagging feeling at the back of your mind, but you will feel less apprehensive and worried
I’m running my online carers cafe on Friday at 3pm, if you fancy dropping by
Here’s the link Carers Cafe

Lea aka BakersBunny

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My daughter and grandson are my main caretakers. I am able to do very much on my own, just extremely slowly.

My grandson is now 11. He is no longer afraid something will happen to me. He now treats me as if nothing ever happened. That’s great. He knows now, I will ask him for help if I need it.

My daughter is extremely busy with her full time job and commuting, her son, her boyfriend, and her own things. She often forgets that I have asked for help with something…so …if I want it done, I often must do it myself. Sounds rough, but in all honesty, it has made me figure out ways to get what I want done without falling, or to figure out how to find the energy to do them. It makes me feel productive and helpful, so it is a win all around.

Because I can do more and more all the time, not many see me as disabled or ill, and that makes it much easier to relax from the worry of it happening again, both for me and for my loved ones.

I truly agree with the suggestion on breathing exercises and meditation, as well as doing something just for you.

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Well, easier said than done, but this would really help
Get a physio, do some Qigong, play ping-pong, do exercises together; anything !!

Then he’d feel better & so would you,
good luck, Roland

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@Karenemma, your husband is over 3mths into his recovery now. And, by all accounts, is continuing to progress and starting to make improvements to lead a healthier lifestyle. You say he doesn’t do any real exercise but he may not be ready for that yet. In my first year post stroke I couldn’t do much more than walk 10-15mins at a time, it took 6mths to a year before I was able to do an hour or two just walking. By which time I was ready for much more, like joining my local walking group, a Strength & Balance class with AgeUK, and gradually progressed to a couple of sessions at the gym.

Try looking at your husband’s progress in the same way you followed your children’s growth and development. Your children didn’t follow suit with each other in their crawling, walking, talking, development of their fine motor skills etc.
Can you get him involved more in the children’s activities such as the park, swimming, ball pools, whatever, go shopping together, visit a café/do lunch, go to the cinema/garden centre/B&Q. These are all just ideas to get you thinking out the box and some he may not be ready for just yet but they are all exercise! But only you and him can decide between you what he is actually capable of doing just yet.

These are distractions that can help you both to get out of your head, distract you from all this negative thinking.

And that’s exactly it! If you have a TIA and don’t bother to take your medications or make changes in your life, then you increase the risk of further strokes.

Your husband has chosen to reduce that risk! You too need to reduce the risk to your health too! Worry is your enemy, so you really need to make greater efforts to reducing it. Distraction is the key, regardless of whether it works every single time doesn’t matter just keep distracting all negative thoughts of strokes. It will get easier as weeks and months move on. Read, watch tv, walk, use the children to distract those thoughts, find things that make you laugh more, teach yourself something new like crochet/knitting, bake, do puzzle. Just every time you find yourself worrying about stroke do something that forces you to have to think about that activity to distract your thoughts away from stroke.

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I had a TIA in the early 90’s when I was 26, had a week off work then back to a very stressful job with no issues at all and no medication was prescribed. I had a full stroke last year that would have been prevented if I had been taking blood thinners. If your husband continues with his medication, eats well and exercises that’s the best thing he can do.

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I am so very sorry you were not given a prescription or just told to take some aspirin daily…something. I hope you are recovering well these days. It’s a struggle sometimes, but for many of us, it does get easier. I hope you are one of them. I am still on my way, but still see progress.

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Hi @Karenemma

Sorry for the delay in answering. you posted when I was laid at low with a tummy bug.

Are there a number of themes in your post that are intertwined?

Your anxiety about a further stroke, Children, diet, possibly unspoken ones about finance etc?

I also see the reference to “waiting for…”. my own philosophy on that is if I have to wait for something I look for the alternatives that I can do without waiting.

There are charities around who operate phone lines to chat or support groups & local council services and health service services. I would find anyone of those even slightly less relevant and then ask them for Do you know a more relevant… It’s amazing what a three phone calls can zero in on

If your partner has not had a habit of being a gym rat how about weekend walks (as an example)? You don’t say how mobile he is - It’s a TIA shouldn’t have affected him at all physically (?). Lea and I go to IKEA where I can walk around on the perfectly level ground, she can dream of replacing the kitchen and because we have signed up for the free IKEA card we get free tea and coffee. I get my steps in whatever the weather with a coffee - the only down side is the eventual kitchen I’ll have to buy.

If he has not had mobility affected country walks or taken the kids to a ball pond or taking up cross-country cycling are all ways to get exercise without the nugatory sitting on a stationary bicycle or pounding a treadmill. Alternates might be to take the children swimming? ( on a Sunday morning ? - You don’t say if there are school age and if they miss a morning a week to motivate your husband in the right direction that would probably be in there best long-term interests anyway :slight_smile:

Point is don’t “pursue exercise” if family life is more motivating. Do the motivating thing with the side effect of the additional benefits :slight_smile: even if lesser than dedicated but unattainable endeavours

elements of your anxiety are natural following a shocking arrival of awareness that is a stroke event. If you were rational you would worry about the thousands of personally unknown other medical conditions that could visit any member of the family at any moment! That former rational might send you mad :-)!

By Trusting in the meds, by doing what can be done from motivational & emotional limits of where you all currently are with small steps in the right direction, are all worthwhile. After that becomes acceptance of what fate may hold :slight_smile: IMHO/ AFAIC

On the risk front. Apparently years of high blood pressure increase ones risk of subsequent stroke even when the blood pressure is reduced But you don’t say if that was a factor in your husband’s TIA. Historically those who had untreated TIA symptoms went on to have strokes - the folklore persists. Those that have diagnosed TIAs and therefore stroke preventative medication don’t have the same historical precedented risk. We are all still at risk from the number 11 bus, the asteroid, The signal failure on the 7:30 to Waterloo etc etc but they are events with probabilities like winning the lottery

Ciao
Simon

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I really can’t thank you enough for your post. The reason being that I had a TIA before Christmas, and have totally forgotten all about it! Seems like you have done all my worrying for me!
I thank you because I have been minimising the TIA.
My husband is seriously ill, and we both support my 83 year old mum who has mixed dementia.
I never had a follow up appointment but received a letter saying that my MRI didn’t highlight anything specific, but suggested that I continue taking Clopidogrel and Amlopidine. Perhaps I have not been taking it seriously enough! I just don’t think if it and assumed that because the MRI was NAD I was off the hook.
I would be very grateful if anyone else’s observations as we seem to have two interpretations of the same coin!

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No you are certainly not off the hook! :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

My stroke didn’t show up on anything either but I definitely knew I’d had one and am still recovering 3 years on.

TIA’s don’t necessarily show up on any of the scans, certainly if they’re small enough, and you haven’t experienced any affects either.
BUT they are considered a serious warning sign for further TIA’s or full blown stroke…which you certainly do not want to have!

So, start taking your medication religiously every day!
The stress of caring for both your husband and your mum could very well be what’s brought this on. Have you had your blood pressure checked recently? Also type2 diabetes can come with old age too, so maybe have your blood sugar levels checked also. Don’t be playing Russian Roulette with your own health. Where will your husband and mum be without you?

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Hi @jenny.c
I said most of what I think are the relevant messages in my reply above but with a different angle- that is the need to worry perhaps is not justified if one has taken a note and altered lifestyle should that be necessary and takes the prescribed medications .

I would state the same things other way around as a TIA is a warning sign - if you have not addressed the causal factors then is likely that the same circumstances will lead to other incidents and eventually one of them may lay you low.

I did not the recognise of my enough and neither did I GP consequently after number of silent strokes I was hospitalised and have spent the last 3 years slowly regaining some of what I lost from that last event

Ciao
Simon

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Hi everyone!!

My partner had a stroke last December. He’s getting better (slowly, as he lost completely any hope on future and he doesn’t want to do almost anything. He’s facing a huge depression by the moment, refusing any anti depressants, help or any kind of solution).
His right side has been affected, but he’s getting better when walking and with his hand. The thing is his speech and writing. He understand absolutely everything, he can read (he understand his mother language, english, and his second language, spanish in both ways: speaking and writing…but he can’t answer back in any of those forms, just a few words in english)
He works with his voice so this has been an extra punch for him.
My concern is his depression and how his shutting doen to everyone, me included. He always has been an extremely stubborn person with a quite strong character, so if it was impossible before for him to do something he didn’t want to do, imagine now…
He’s on a rehab center now and has to live there for another month. He barely replies our messages (family and myself) he refuses to see any friend.
I don’t know what else to do, I’ve tried it all. How can I help if he doesn’t let me?

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Hi @Maria12
Welcome but sorry you have any reason to join us :frowning:

If he had his neurological event in December then it is still very early days.

UnFortunately the physical rehab gets much more attention than the emotional and the survivor gets much more attention than all those surrounding who are just as impacted.

First thing that you might consider is getting support for yourself - there are lots of organisations out there - But you have to go looking. A Carers cafe runs at the via zoom on Fridays although I believe coming weeks one will be Thursday morn. @11 on https://bit.ly/StrokeCafe

Your Husband is very likely like where you progressing through the shock anger resistance resentment stages of grief. Not until these have been navigated can, acceptance and healing. Psychology or neuropsychology may be able to help him when he is ready to receive it

I wish you well on your recovery and his

Caio
Simon

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Hi @Maria12 & welcome to the community. Sorry to hear about your partners stroke. Hope he is making steady progress.

As Simon has mentioned the physical rehab fets far more attention than the emotional side despite that being a big issue for many of us.

It is very difficultvwhen people get a stubborn streak but unless he starts to accept help & put in the work he will struggle to make progress. Has the rehab centre any form of talking therapy for him? Someone who can assess what his issue is & start to work on his depression? A neuro psychology referral may be worth a try.

Perhaps you could have a chat with your GP about what you might be able to do to help.

Best wishes to you both.

Ann

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