My stroke wives

Tuesday, September 07 2021, 1:31PM

By Tracey Laverick

During my journey of caring for my husband, I am fortunate to have met a group of other wives who have walked a similar path to me.

We have taken each other under our wings and helped each other out with navigating life as both a wife and a carer.

Kelly was my first ‘stroke wife’ and lives close by. We were put in touch by a mutual friend, and I found out that I had been at school with her sisters. That made it easier for me to reach out, but it still took me a while to get in touch.  

I was dealing with the craziness of caring, getting to know myself in this new role, and grief, so meeting someone new wasn’t a priority.

That was a mistake, but you learn from experience.  

I should have reached out immediately, but I didn’t realise how much I needed to talk to someone who understood what I, and my family, were going through.

People call it a peer relationship – but I don’t think this even closely describes how important this person becomes to you. This is why we call each other stroke wives, that is closer to the truth. They become family.

Kelly - wife one

What a relief it was connecting with Kelly that first time. It is still vivid in my mind.  

She helped me to build a road map for caring. Kelly helped me with the practical day-to-day things, like how to access services, as well as the big picture plans. She is a salve for my emotions.  

It was eight months before we could meet face-to-face, but since then we’ve regularly walked on the beaches close to our homes, and have shared innumerable late-night talks, debriefs and regular ‘need a cuppa’ chats. I would say that Kelly is one of the most important friendships that I have.  

Tracy – wife two

We share the same name, although I am Tracey with an ‘e’.

We met at an Aphasia support group and hit it off straight away. We support each other mainly over the phone and through Facebook. We live two hours away from each other, but catch up when we can.  

Vicki – wife three

I met Vicki through my friendship with Tracy. This is how it works in the carer community. It’s a group that you don’t want to join, but if you do, well it’s the best bloody group in the world.

It still floors me how generous people are with their hearts and their time.  

We call ourselves the ‘stroke wives’ because all of our husbands are survivors of stroke.  

And whilst we’re all different, our experiences are similar, and our bonds are deep.  

Knowing that we aren’t alone, and other people have forged this new life before us, is so damn comforting.

We ‘get’ each other, as wives, and in our other role as carers. Becoming a carer is challenging, partly because it comes out of the blue and you don’t get any time to prepare. Roles change in the family, and in your marriage, and you must simply manage it.

Our hubbies are typical blokes when they get together. They compete, and try to outdo each other, it is a hoot.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Kelly, Tracy and Vicki for being there for me and my family. For listening to me whinge and to celebrate the wins, no matter how small.

You are my rocks, and I am profoundly grateful to have you in my life.  

Thank you.

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