By Monica Vest Wheeler
Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp Volunteer Staff
A while back, I wrote a post entitled, "We're Survivors, NOT Victims," in hopes of ridding the word "victims" from the stroke world vocabulary. I haven't met a stroke "victim" yet in the 75 Stroke Camps I've attended as a volunteer. Every one of them has been a survivor in every sense.
I've also learned much about stroke caregivers. They are survivors, as well, as they've spent countless hours in worry and care over a loved one who has had a stroke. They heard every bad scenario and prognosis in the book, and yet, they never gave up the most unique of human emotions: hope.
Stroke caregivers run on some invisible adrenaline that can't be mass produced or even replicated by the finest chemistry labs in the world. You can't manufacture love.
I've met caregivers of all ages, from young children whose parents have endured a stroke … to adult children caring for parents … to spouses withstanding a dramatic evolution in their relationship … to retired parents suddenly taking on a caregiving role for their adult children … to siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins and dear friends stepping into the position of caregiving with little warning or preparation.
Just when you think you've heard or seen every imaginable situation, I meet new people and witness new memories in the making at every camp I have the privilege to attend. Even those folks I've known for several years continue to evolve in their caregiving role through time. I wanted to share just a small sampling of the beauty and perseverance of caregiving I observed through my camera lens in 2015.
And I can only imagine what I will see this year … what images will inspire and stay with me forever …