Submissions from Readers

Problems with frustration and with losing temper

by Cynthia
(Ontario, Canada)

Question: My partner had a stroke almost one year ago. He used to be a real go-getter, very active physically, and went non-stop. Now he has a hard time finding the energy let alone the physical abilities to do a lot that he previously could do quite easily. I try to listen to what he says and encourage him. It is draining me. I also find that he tends to not rest when needed. Some days are spent mostly sleeping. And his balance is quite off. But he keeps trying. Previous to the stroke, he lived alone for some time. And divorced a long time ago. He was quite obsessed with having things around his house a certain way. Now he loses his temper more easily. I confront him and say what I will not tolerate. He cannot compromise much. And after he says unkind things or bosses me, he acts a few minutes later like nothing happened. I tell him this is verbally abusive and intolerable. He seems to believe it is not. Any advice? I am also a Registered Nurse so I am used to dealing with people in recovery, but, I must confess, this situation is difficult. I maintain my own space and I pursue my own interests. I understand his frustration, but I also know what is wrong. I would appreciate any thoughts. Thank you.

Answer: As a nurse, you most likely understand the effects of stroke and his symptoms. I think we as healthcare professionals understand the physical and emotional problems that stroke patients have, however, we don't often realize the real toll on the significant other or caregiver until we are put in that situation. Honestly, only you can decide what you want to do. Some people have a great amount of compassion and patience to deal with partners who have undergone brain injury and emotional changes. Others have compassion but just can't tolerate the situation and circumstances. It sounds like you are upfront with him, and I would suggest that he work with a neuro-psychologist. One way to look at it would be to consider what you would want him to do if the roles were reversed and you had been the one who had a stroke and personality changes. It's really a tough situation. I definitely think you are making the right decision to enjoy things outside of the relationship and your own interests. Perhaps if you can get him to a neuro-psychologist or neuro-psychiatrist, they could suggest something to help.

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