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Decisions, Decisions With Stroke Caregiver Melia Wilkinson

When your partner suddenly has a stroke, your scared, your faced with learning a lot of stuff quickly, and you’re often putting on a brave face for them and others. What you may not expect is the sheer volume of major decisions you will soon have to make. Melia Wilkinson and I talk about that and more in this 2019 conversation.

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We’ve had many guests on the show who have experienced or worked in the stroke industry, but not nearly enough caregivers. It gives me great pleasure to introduce you to more talented individuals like Melia Wilkinson.

In this interview from the year 2019, we discuss the process of making choices.

There is a tendency in discussions of stroke rehabilitation to center on the ways in which the patient’s own life has been altered by the experience, but this isn’t entirely fair. The lives of our partners, spouses, and children are also turned upside down. They are suddenly cast in a role for which they did not audition. Their professional and financial prospects have also shifted dramatically. All those long-term plans were thrown out the window in an instant.

Melia has witnessed these transformations over the past five years, and she continues to do so today. To better explain the stroke care model, she has been writing a series of guest posts on the Strokecast website.

Visit http://Strokecast.com/Melia to read all of Melia’s updates.

(Go to https://strokecast.com/MeetMelia if you can’t hear the player below.)

Opinions, Opinions

The theme of having to make choices keeps coming up as I listen to Melia tell her story. In the first few weeks and months of caregiving, there are a plethora of choices to be made. Everything from where to get therapy to what to eat for dinner falls into this category. Also, decision fatigue can be difficult.

A black turtleneck was a constant in Steve Jobs’ wardrobe. Mark Zuckerberg’s trademark attire consists of t-shirts and hoodies (among a couple other things). These famous people didn’t want to waste time deciding what to wear every day, so they stocked their closets accordingly. It takes mental and physical stamina to make all the choices we do every day. In addition, they desired to conserve their strength for later in the day, when they will be required to make more crucial and complex choices. The same goes for you, by the way. Helping professionals like Melia do, too.

This is why it’s critical that the people who take care of us get the sleep they need. A little downtime and self-care aren’t luxuries but necessities. They’re crucial for providing proper care to survivors and making sound choices.

You should put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others, just like they make you do at the beginning of every flight while we all ignore the safety demonstration.

Bio

After her husband suffered a massive stroke in 2014, Melia Wilkinson has been the rock for their family of three. She has a background in economics from the University of Maryland that she has never put to use. Upon graduating from university, she spent a year teaching English in Japan, where she realized she did not enjoy working with children.

They met on the East Coast but relocated to the Pacific Northwest so he could work in computer games (and drink the excellent coffee)

After having their daughter, she changed careers and began working in sales after having a successful career in nonprofit management and retail marketing. Sales allowed her to balance her roles as a mother and a caregiver, thanks to its adaptability.

Melia initially knew very little about strokes, neurorecovery, or blood pressure, but she has since become an expert and advocate with strong opinions on how we can better support caregivers and optimize and personalize therapy for stroke survivors.

She and her family have been comic book and sci-fi fans for as long as they can remember, loving Emerald City Comic Con, Doctor Who, and all things superhero. Seeing her husband and daughter succeed gives her hope and helps her get through the tough times.

May is Stroke Awareness Month

The month of May serves to raise awareness about strokes. There is still a great opportunity for many people to learn more, even though the recent stories about the deaths of John Singleton and Luke Perry have been on our minds and we have read the incredible story of stroke survivor and Game of Thrones star Emelia Clarke.

This May, think about posting a reminder about the BEFAST warning signs for stroke somewhere prominent in your life, whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, a bulletin board at work, the side of your car, your email signature, or any other place. Or you could do something really radical like meet people face to face. Because every minute counts when it comes to preventing brain damage from a stroke, it’s crucial that as many people as possible learn to spot the warning signs right away.

When someone can get to an ambulance quickly, it can make a world of a difference. Two episodes ago, we saw this in Anne Dailey’s story, and now we hear it from Melia Wilkinson.

Because I was already experiencing symptoms when I woke up, I was unable to receive treatment like tpA, which is a major contributor to my current limitations. Indeed, it is significant.

Balance, Eyes, Face, Arms, Speech, and Time for Ambulance, or BEFAST for short. Stroke symptoms include sudden dizziness, blurred vision, weakness in the face or arms, trouble communicating, and trouble swallowing. The situation requires immediate attention, so dial 911 and request an ambulance.

Share this image on your own website or print it out to post on the fridge or bulletin board at work. https://strokecast.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Magnet-befast-for-shutterfly.png

Everyone is at risk for a stroke, so spread the word.

Most Successful Weekly Hacker Attack

Pack a go-bag full of necessities if you like to get away on the regular. Melia’s husband uses a portable CPAP machine, so she also has a portable bed rail, meal tray, and accessible toilet seat. This eliminates the hassle of constantly repacking and trying to remember where they put everything.

Before my stroke, I used to travel quite frequently, and I always made sure to pack an extra set of toiletries and charging cables in a separate suitcase. Packing and traveling are greatly facilitated by this.

Links

Visit Http://Strokecast.com/Melia to read Melia’s articles. Follow @Melia on Twitter http://twitter.com/MeliaWilkinson Strokecast with Anne Dailey https://strokecast.com/anne The New Yorker piece by Emelia Clarke http://Strokecast.com/EmeliaClarke Loss of John Singleton https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/29/entertainment/john-singleton-dead/index.html The passing of Luke Perry https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/04/us/luke-perry-dies/index.html These are my thoughts on Luke Perry. http://Strokecast.com/LukePerry When Kate Lorig talks about improving caregivers on Strokecast, you know it’s going to be good. http://Strokecast.com/Kate

In what direction do we go from here?

Visit Strokecast.com/Melia to see all of Melia’s Strokecasts.

Respond to this thread with your thoughts on the topic, or send a message to Melia.

Make sure you never miss an episode of Strokecast by subscribing to it in your preferred podcast app for free today.

Thank those who helped you get through it if you made it.

Instead of trying to be the best, strive to be the best.

But hope is what will sort of get you through it, so hold on to that because we just don’t know. Tweets from Melia Wilkinson’s caregiver, with the hashtags: #stroke #caregiver.

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NeuroLutions supported the publication of this article for the good of the stroke community.