Posted by: dlip | January 4, 2010

The Law of Diminishing Returns

I never thought that Economics and Medicine could be amalgamated, however, life’s experiences have taught me otherwise.

Since my stroke in December of 2006 I have fought many battles, both internal and external and during the course of these I have encountered a number of minor victories which, if the truth be told, have been interspersed by quite a few losses and defeats. To the average healthy person my victories may appear to be extremely trivial, but for me the euphoria of victory was nothing less than that of the victor after the Battle of Panipat or Plassey or the second world war. Equally, my losses and defeats have had nea devastating effects on me, often leaving me at a complete loss; totally dispirited, discouraged, deflated and in a state of despair and gloom.

Amongst my victories I proudly count the fact that I am now able to walk to the bathroom and use the W.C. to pass urine. Now I do not, as I once did, have to call for the plastic bed urinal and have to use it while lying in bed. Please do not shrug and remark ‘so what?’ This is a vast improvement  for me.

Another major victory for me, is the fact that I am now slowly weaning myself away from the wheelchair. Now that I think of it, I haven’t sat in the wheelchair for over three weeks. Even when going out, I walk from the car to a chair in my hosts’ living room whereas earlier on I used to be wheeled through.

I have also started covering greater distances when walking and am now able to walk on different surfaces including grass and lawns. I must add that these victories would not have been possible but for the support and conscientious efforts of my physiotherapist, my wife, my family and friends. All of whom have stood by me steadfastly, like the Rock of Gibraltar.

As I mentioned, these high points have been interspersed with a few “non-successes” and lows which are probably on account of my own failings, weaknesses and lack of resolve.

My biggest failure has been that of regaining the life and use of my left arm which continues to hang like a limp appendage to my trunk. There has also been no improvement in my left field vision, which means I am still unable to read. This is one loss that hurts me greatly – as I was very fond of reading. I also cannot use a computer, because of my inability to read the keys.

The universe and world I had been able to build and develop prior to my current state, was one in which I was able to reach out to hundreds of people all over the world has collapsed. Its absence leaves an empty void in me, one which I am unable to repair and tha makes me sad.

However, let me get back to the pulpit and continue with my sermon. I have mentioned in the past that the journey/ road to recovery is long, arduous and at times heartbreaking. At the risk of repetition, let me reiterate that even today, nothing has changed my thoughts about this journey. The process is slow and not always steady. However, I think to my credit, that I have been strong and courageous. Today I am convinced that not all the Param Vir Chakras and Purple Hearts are to be won on the battlefield. Our own personal lives do provide enough opportunities.

While travelling this road I often noticed a dark cloud hovering on the horizon. The cloud was so unobtrusive and not worthy of note, yet this cloud has a name. The name is one that can turn even strong men weak at the knees, it’s called “Depression”. Although its presence on the horizon is a mere flicker, it can, just as unobtrusively and without warning, quietly and insidiously slip into one’s psyche and being to create devastation. During such moments, I have found the phrase (often used by my mother) ‘this too shall pass’ to offer tremendous comfort and strength. I also recommend leaning heavily on your faith and belief in God. It worked for me.

Another phenomenon that occurs almost hand-in-hand with this cloud “Depression” is that the attitude and behaviour of people towards you – the stroke victim. This undergoes a change. The Law of Diminishing Returns in this case is simply the fact that after the stroke, people (your close family included) are very helpful and concerned about your inabilities and limitations. They tend to be cheerful and willing to provide assistance. With the passage of time, your state of helplessness continues to a greater or lesser extent and you continue to need assistance and after a while the repetition creates monotony and impatience. The assistance is still provided, but the good cheer gradually diminishes and is replaced by varying degrees of impatience which is expressed in a number of ways.

The necessity of the victim’s having to contend with this along with the cloud of depression only makes matters worse. A time then comes when the individual is hard pressed to develop a will to continue. I must add that those who become impatient are not evil villains, they are your own near and dear loved ones. Nobody can be blamed, it’s only human nature.

The Stroke and Depression reach out their tentacles to hurt everyone. No one escapes, not the victim, nor the family nor the loved ones.

Beware. Do what you can to lead a healthy life, eat carefully, exercise, be conscious of heart health… for when a Stroke attacks its deadly companion Depression is not far behind.

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