Thursday, September 12, 2013


Yesterday I was trying to hold my water glass with my affected arm at dinner time.

Maybe it was a slip of concentration. Maybe there was  a bit of water on the outside of the glass, making it slippery. Maybe it just was one of those things that could have happened to anyone.

As my hand was inching up to my mouth, the glass slipped onto the table with a loud bang. There was also the noise of splashing water everywhere--the table, my plate, the floor.

"ARE YOU OK?" asked my husband loudly, with panic in his voice.

"I'm fine," I said, "I'm fine. It just slipped."

My husband has always had a strong startle reflex, but he reacted as if a bomb went off.  He started rushing around--getting a dish cloth, barking orders to the kids, mopping up the spilled water as if his life depended on it. The kids were amused at the commotion.

We didn't talk to the kids about the reasons why their dad reacted so strongly to the glass slipping through my hand. We didn't even talk about it between two of us, this time, because we both knew what he had been thinking: that I was having a seizure, or worse.

My husband has been heroic through these years of the stroke, seizure, and recovery. But like most heroes, he has scars, and heightened reflexes.


  1. My wife has taught special education and first grade for many years, so nothing much startles her, but for the first year after my stroke I would catch her watching me intently when I nodded off in front of the TV or when I slept late. She didn't have to say anything, I knew what she was thinking. October will be my two year anniversary and she isn't quite as apprehensive, but still watchful.

  2. Heightened reflexes are bad for him or he will be the next candidate for a stroke. That being said, my husband is legally deaf and reads lips which doesn't help me if I'm in another room. Since my stroke paralyzed part of my diaphragm my cough sounds rough and coarse like a seal barking with a deep voice. I could be in another room screaming for help and he can't hear me, but let me cough. He'll trot in to see if I'm okay.

    Now with him I listen to how he breathes even in my sleep. I'll hear him stop breathing and wake up.Eleven years practice in caregiving with him. I don't sweat the small stuff (noises) but his breathing is loud and with the oxygen going it's even louder. I can be lulled to sleep by these sounds now, but when they stop, I'm there before the alarms start going off. I'm not apprehensive or anything. Just I know I'm needed.

  3. I'm impressed you can even get your hand around a glass of water, unless the liquid is in a sealed container I can't do that. Wrist spasticity will dump any container sideways.

    1. I am proud of the fact that I can usually do it. Strengthening my back seems to help, also. My daughter, of course, chided me for using a real glass, instead a plastic cup.

  4. My husband's 2nd heart attack began with him crashing to the floor in the bathroom. Until he went several years without another heart attack every loud noise made me jump.

  5. Grace, how awful - for you and Neal. I have a pretty good startle reflex myself, but Tom is serene through everything. He and my brother were sheathing the roof of our new garage, and when they dropped a piece on the joists, it sounded like a shotgun, so I had to rush - NOT - out to make sure everything was ok. They, of course, laughed at my panic.

  6. It is important to make outselfs stronger after tragic. Keep it in mind :)

  7. My family is pretty jumpy too.
    I have broken so many dishes and glasses over the past 5 years it is ridiculous. You start to forget that sometime stuff just plain slips for everyone. Isn't it nice that acrylic dishes look so attractive lately?