Karla and Todd McIntyre share lessons they learned during his long, difficult recovery from a cerebellum hemorrhage and paralysis.
KM: Hi Guideposts, I'm Karla McIntyre from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
TM: Hi Guideposts, this is Todd McIntyre here from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
KM: In order to lower your stress and prevent burnout, it's important to recognize self-care, and to make sure that you take time to take care of yourself. This isn't something I always recognized earlier on, and often when people would ask me if I wanted them to provide me help, I would turn it down, because I wanted to constantly be present and make sure that Todd was cared for in the best way possible.
So it was hard for me at first to accept help and recognize the signs of burnout, so I would strongly encourage everybody to take time for themselves, even if it's just a quick walk outside or looking at nature or stopping to play with your dog for a second. Whatever it is that you need to do to just take a few moments each day to do self-care and take care of yourself. It's really important to recognize that is not a sign of weakness, but it's actually a sign of strength.
TM: One of the things that you have to subscribe to is being humble enough to recognize that you can't do this alone. And frankly, my recovery has been the combination of efforts from the entire village. I would've never got to the point that I've gotten to, had I not had the ability and support from all these people around me, to allow them to do kind things and ask for help when I needed it.
So yeah, to recognize that, although you may have been the primary bread winner and care provider for your family before your illness, once your wife becomes the primary caregiver, you have to recognize that she's trying and capable and allow her to do those things you need her to do. Which is sometimes humbling, but it's something that needs to be done to allow you to get to the next phase.
KM: The best advice that I would have to people who doubt these situations is to recognize, as soon as you can, that surprises are inevitable and you need to adjust to that the best that you can, and always remain faithful to yourself and to your heart, and to what you believe. If you do that, then taking surprises will be a little bit more easier for you.
TM: The most difficult part for me is honestly being patient in the level of recovery that I've gotten. Although in my opinion I've been blessed to make great gains, it has taken four years of on-and-off effort to get to this point, and honestly I can say that originally when I was in the hospital, I predicted I would walk right out of the hospital. I never would have imagined that it would've taken this long. So having the patience endure the multiple therapy sessions has really been the most difficult for me.
KM: The hardest part about being a caregiver for Todd was seeing my husband deteriorate in front of my eyes, and there wasn't anything I could do about it. No matter how good of a caregiver I was, it wasn't changing the situation; it wasn't helping him improve or get better.
Losing that companionship for almost a year, while he was in the sickest part of his illness, was very hard and not having my best friend beside me. So although his recovery is not where he desires it to be, it is so relieving to me to have him back beside me and for us to be able to do things together as a family.
We are not able to do all the same activities that we once did. So we had to find new ways to enjoy our time together, ways that he would be able to participate in, and we have found those new pathways and we are able to enjoy our time together in ways that we maybe we wouldn't have done before.
When we're just sitting and watching television, I often will think, "Man, there was a time when I was told this would never be possible." So we find enjoyment even in the smallest aspects of life now, and our faith has also grown considerably. We pray together a lot more than we did before the event, we attend church regularly together, we take walks together.
TM: One would be surprised, but my faith has gotten stronger from this whole event and I'm sure that people think I'm somewhat crazy when I would say that at the end of the day, I truly feel blessed in that a lot of people have less positive outcomes from my events, but my strength and my faith has gotten stronger each day.
Because there are times, as I said, you have to humble yourself and recognize you're not capable of doing certain things without greater strength than we [have] and frankly, my faith in God has allowed me to do those things in times of need and frustration that he's picked me up and he's helped me get to the next level when I needed it.
KM: So our life is far richer and greater than what it was before this event happened.