Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Jaded Jean

I think I’m getting by jaded by mentoring and hanging around the stroke community. I ran into someone today whose husband had a stroke a few months ago but he was not affected physically at all. He did, however, have some “mental and personality problems that keeps him from working,” she said. Then she adds, “It’s much easier for you because you can see what’s wrong with your husband.”

Excuse me! Just because Don has physical disabilities that can be cataloged with the eye doesn’t mean he didn’t also have to go through a grieving process over losing the life style he’d had before! It doesn’t mean he didn’t have to overcome some major impulse control, anger and cognitive issues! I said this to the woman, using my best oh-so-sweet, motherly voice. Maybe it was a little too sweet because that started a pissing contest. HER husband was WORSE to deal with and the bottom line was---after the contest ended---that she was filing for divorce.

The term ‘bitch slap’ came to my mind but you know me, I could do that if I was sitting behind a computer keyboard using the printed word as a riding crop, but in person I’m Miss. Manners. So, I gently tried to point out that her husband’s stroke was very recent and things could change a lot in the coming months.

“Not likely!” she replied. “He doesn’t try at all. He won’t do anything his shrink suggests.”

At that point I’m thinking to myself: Why am I letting the woman get under my skin? Am I having a feel-sorry-for-Jean-day and I didn’t like having someone telling me how “easy” I have it? Am I just being defensive because this woman could be metaphorically married to any number of survivors who I’ve come to know and like? Probably it was a combination of the two.

I finally decided that this woman was looking for validation that it was okay to divorce her husband. I didn’t give it to her. Screw her! Yes, I’m jaded. I’m tired to the bone from sleeping less than five hour a night most nights---it’s been a hard caregiver month. My ears hurt from listening to the long, loud no-word operas that Don’s been singing lately and everyone in the house, including the dog, is on a different medication schedule. My Nurse Nancy uniform is too tight and I haven’t had a strawberry truffle in the house in months. Woo is me. Woo is you. But the future Ms. Divorcee can find another hen house to lay her eggs.

Jean Riva ©

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