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denial of limitations

Question: My husband had a stroke 6 months ago and has never accepted his limitations. He tells doctors he can perform a cardio-stress test on a treadmill when he cannot walk more than 100 feet, and that with 2 crutches! He is sure he can drive, although he shows poor coordination and sudden fatigue. He refuses any assistance with doors, chairs, etc. and asks "Why are people treating me like an invalid?" He wants to travel although he cannot lift a suitcase. He will not go in the "handicapped" line anywhere. Although he gets exhausted and must sit down to rest after a few paces, he will not use a wheelchair. We cannot go to museums or zoos because of that. He holds on to furniture in the house because he will not use canes. He will not wear support hose because he "does not need them". He will not wear a napkin or bib because he does not realize he dribbles whenever he eats, even when he sees it on his shirt. This is driving me nuts. Even when the consequences are staring him in the face, he will deny it. What's to be done? He has never moved out of this "phase".

Answer: This isn't necessarily a "phase" but may be likely due to the part of the brain that was affected. You do not mention what part or side of the brain was affected, but he demonstrates many of the symptoms of a right brain CVA with left side extremity weakness. Some of the characteristics of R brain strokes are impulsiveness, trying to do things without help which may be dangerous, showing little awareness of problems from stroke, restlessness, agitation, and denial of disability. You may benefit from asking the MD what areas of the brain were affected and then researching the effects of damage to those areas. I suspect your husband has had damage that is causing these behaviors. You can look online regarding ways to deal with patients that have had a R brain CVA (or with damages to other areas). This may help you learn better techniques in dealing with him. You could also have him work with a speech language pathologist, cognitive therapist, or a neuro-psychologist.

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