Even though they had good intentions, in all fairness to me, some of them said and did things that were downright insulting, if I took the comments and body language personally. But I didn’t, for those people who took the time and came to visit me.
In all fairness to them, how could they know the right responses from the wrong. What it really comes down to is this: How do you speak to a stroke patient who’s had her life turned around in a 180-degree spin?
I made a list of the top ten things you should never say or do to a stroke patient, and I, too, have been guilty of most of them before having my stroke when I visited stroke patients.
So having set the record straight, here goes.
1. Saying ‘good girl’, ‘good boy’, ‘good job’Those are phrases you should say to your pets when they are being rewarded with a “Pup-Peroni” or Doritos’ chips. If you say them to me, I am not really being a good “anything.” I’m just sayin’. IT’S SORT OF CONDESCENDING.
2. Talking loudlyPeople have a habit of speaking loudly to foreigners and the sick. Just because they are from somewhere else, speaking loudly to a foreigner will not help get your point across. There is no hearing problem involved. The same thing applies to me. HOW DOES SHOUTING HELP?
3. Talking slowlyTalking slowly to a foreigner might be an asset. But talking slowly to me makes me feel mentally disabled. How would YOU like it if someone said, “How — are — you — feeling — today?” If I could, (and I wasn’t able to then), I would have talked quickly in response, possibly making them change their way of speaking. I REPEAT–HOW WOULD YOU LIKE IT?
4. Making faces at meStroke patients are difficult to understand at times, but please don’t squint, or turn your mouth to one side, or wrinkle your nose at me. Just ask me to repeat my statement, and if you still can’t understand, ask the question in a different way. After all, you’re the one with a full brain! SO USE IT!
5. Talking over meI mostly listen, but when I get up the courage to speak, let me do it. Don’t interrupt me in the middle. In other words, LET ME FINISH!
6. Completing my sentenceSome people find the right word choice instantly, but it takes me a few seconds more. So please stop trying to fill in the blanks. WAIT! I’LL GET IT!
7. Giving me lists of things to doIf you give me a list of five or more things to do, I’ll may miss one. My brain is going, but the parts that are dead…well, simple died and there’s no hope of getting them back. Did you ever hear that heavy drinkers lose brain cells and the cells won’t be replaced? Same thing. YOU HEAR THAT, HEAVY DRINKERS?
8. Ignoring me as if I’m invisibleOnce in awhile, at Rehab Y, I would see doctors on the outside. If I’m waiting at a new doctor’s office, for example, staring right at some person who’s in charge, the person invariably stares at my friend to find out what my friend wants, forcing me to shout and look like an idiot–which I am not. I shouted several times in person but even more on the phone. Some of the people just don’t listen and say their “shpiel” regardless if I object. “FOR CHRIST SAKE, I HAD A F***ING STROKE. GIMME A BREAK!”
Once in awhile, people will say something to the effect, “Could I get by you?” and start moving before they even hear the answer. Their rhetorical question, because that’s what it really is, a few times cost me my balance. WHY ARE VISITORS IN SUCH A HURRY IN THE NURSING HOME?
10. Hanging up on meA lot of operators hang up on me. They are nameless and they take advantage of that fact. But it doesn’t help me. WHY WON’T THEY WAIT?
Currently, all these situations are still going on with me. Yes, I tell it all from my point of view, hoping that healthcare professionals will take advantage of my thoughts, learning why stroke patients are still frustrated. I am tenacious in my mission to educate the world about stroke survivors. Why do I use "patients" and "survivors" interchangeably? Because sometimes, people make me feel like a patient, even now, 6 years later.