While my husband was in the ICU in a coma, I would watch as hospital staff struggle to care for him. I would keep my eyes down to block out some of the emotional trauma I felt, as they flung him around like a 300-pound rag doll. It was hard work. Darius was dead weight needing two or three people to move him. It didn’t dawn on me in those early days that this would soon be my job. I had so much faith that God was going to raise him up, and he would walk out of that ICU. However, one day in ICU led to 27 days and he was still comatose.
Darius suffered a large left-brain hemorrhagic stroke and two ischemic strokes. The ischemic strokes happened on the right side of his brain, and in the back of his brain near his occipital lobe. When he woke up we were left with a slew of deficits. We were six months into Darius’ recovery when I realized his complete dependency on me was going to be here for a while. During his time living in institutions, I made sure to be presentevery day for everything. I learned how to turn my husband, transfer him, change him, prepare his food, give meds, and use lift machines. I resisted learning how to use the machines in the beginning because I believed he was walking out of there. Well,that didn’t happen, so thank God I paid attention!
My husband had two coming home dates. The first was when we moved in with his family upon our return from Lubbock, Tx. We were in Lubbock for 2 months before the funding ran out, and before he could fully rehabilitate. As I planned to move us back, I made sure to secure the proper insurance, and rehab facility to receive Darius. Well, that fell through, and I cried like a baby. I was thrown into immediate at-home care! I was notprepared. I felt doomed. But thank God his family was there. They helped a lot that the first week. They were so excited to have us back home. They were there for us; this was a hugeblessing because I know many people do not have this. My biggest issue was finding consistent help because everyone had jobs, or businesses to run. They couldn’t stand by every hour making sure Darius and I were okay. I got help from whoever was available at the time, and I was still exhausted.
Our first week home came with mixed emotions. I was elated to have him home, but at the same time, there was a lot of struggle and unknowns. I am 5 feet 1 inch, 144 pounds. Darius is 6 feet 3 ½ inches tall at 280 pounds. His care for me was like David facing Goliath for the first time. I was nervous, and I prayed all the time. The bathroom situations were the biggest struggle. We didn’t have a roll-in shower, so it was bed baths every day in a king-sized bed. That was a lot of rolling. However, I had to be grateful because I did have some help. I can’t imagine us being completely alone that week. I would not have made it. Some days were unpredictable because Darius’ brain wouldn’t cooperate, and some days it would. I don’t think you can ever be 100% prepared for your first week home with a fully dependent disabled family member. Thankfully, I remembered what one of his Rehab Doctor’s said to me. “Day, by Day.” Try not to think about how hard this will be for the rest of your life. Focus on the moment you’re in and making it through that, incorporating this advice will go a long way.