My Stressful Return to Office Life

The first week of June, I returned to working in my office full time. I thought it would be an easier transition because I had been working on and off as needed in the office since late fall. Until my husband had his heart-related stroke, I was ecstatic to start working at the office again. This changed very quickly.

My husband's health

My husband's stroke happened not long before I returned to my actual place of work. It weighed heavy on me in many ways. Although our children were at home with him, I felt like I was abandoning him and putting the responsibility on our kids without the necessary life experience.

Everyone at work who knew what happened wanted to talk about what happened and ask me questions. While they were well-meaning, I felt like I could not escape everything we had been through at home the months prior to my return.

As a family, we have worked together to make sure he adheres to the diet recommended to him. I never quite mastered the heart-healthy diet and I haven't managed to do much better with a diet recommended for someone post-stroke. I can bake anything from scratch, but I am a terrible cook!

Thankfully, our oldest child is an amazing cook and he LOVES it. I was surprised at how easily the kids agreed to give up food Chris could no longer eat and embraced the recommended stroke diet.

Preparing the kids

Chris was never home alone or went anywhere by himself. He always had one or both of our boys with him. We made sure they knew the signs of a stroke backward and forwards and what to say to the 911 operator when they called 911. While one was on the phone to 911 and by Chris' side, it was the other's responsibility to make sure our animals were put up so they would not be in the way of the fire department when they arrived. Their next step would be to call me.

Thankfully, I work ten minutes away. We have a medication list prepared to hand to EMS when they arrive, along with a note about his internal defibrillator and his history of heart attacks.

Now that organizations are offering the Basic Life Save Course through the American Heart Association in person again, our next step is to prepare the kids for the worst-case scenario. It is a skill any caregiver, regardless of age, should be trained in.

My role as caregiver

Pre-Covid, my co-workers could always talk to me when something was bothering them personally or professionally. Even in the workplace, you need someone you trust to vent to sometimes, and I was happy to be that person. However, now I must establish boundaries to be the caregiver my husband needs me to be. If I don't, I come home mentally exhausted.

I understand this is a hard time for everyone. There is only one more week before school begins in our county. Masks or social distancing are not going to be required. We are in our fifth year of homeschooling, and I cannot imagine what parents are experiencing right now.

Now my co-workers and I talk for a few minutes in the morning and at lunch. These boundaries help keep me in a positive space for interacting with my husband. I do not automatically assume the worst if he didn't straighten up part of the house like he said he would. Instead of thinking he just chose not to, I make sure he is feeling okay.

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