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    Old 07-28-2005, 06:44 PM   #1
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    Coworker with Stroke...

    I need a little help. A year and a half ago one of my coworkers (who was 48) has a stroke and it has basically left her left side "dead". The coworker did not receive the proper medical care and did not take time to rest and recover. She continued working and started physical therapy over 6 months after the stroke. Needless to say, she has not improved and seems to get worse every day. She has had some major falls--b/c she has major trouble walking. She has just recently broken her foot and sprained her ankle. Her right knee is shot and she needs replacement surgery but she cannot have surgery b/c without the use of her right leg she is totally imobile. She is totally alone--she is not married and does not have children. Her family lives a few states away and she only has a few friends to take care of her.

    I guess the problem comes in with her attitude and her behavior at work. She has become totally hateful and cruel...she wishes everyone around would "live in her shoes" and she constantly complains that no one ever does anything for her. Needless to say she has alienated the entire office. She expects us to do for her and refuses to ask anyone for anything but yet she becomes irate if we don't get her lunch. We try to help her out but when you say anything to her she yells and jumps down your throat. Is it possible that her emotions and mental stability have been affected from this stroke? Any ideas on what we can do to make things better? I have gone out of my way to help her including driving 20 minutes out of my way to take her to and from work for a month after her last fall...the 'last' ride happened when she told me she hoped she never had to see me again and that she never wanted me to darken her doorstep--this all b/c I went to our boss and suggested that we try and find a solution to the problem and find her better transportation b/c she was becoming a liability (she refuses to wear a seatbelt).

    A few weeks ago she went into the ladies room and "messed all over the bathroom" We are still not sure how she managed to do a #2 in some of the places we found it. To make matters worse, she walked out and did not acknowledge the fact that she made a mess (this is the 4th or 5th time she has done that)...on the day in question, she also messed her pants early in the morning and walked around all day in her own could see a brown spot on the back of her pants. I once again went to the boss and he wouldn't do anything...

    Does anyone have any thoughts or ideas on this situation? I am at my wit's end and everyone is to the point that her work performance is horrible and we just need to get rid of her...

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    Old 07-28-2005, 07:27 PM   #2
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    Re: Coworker with Stroke...

    I was wondering if she had any sign of these types of things before the stroke. Depending what area of the brain was affected by the stroke, can do many different things. It can change one's personality, moods, and functioning as well as the ability to cope.
    I had a ministroke at work, but fortunately was able to get medical assistance in time. However two days later, I was released from the hospital with NO INSTRUCTIONS whatsoever. I was out on Thursday and went back to work on Monday as I didn't have so much as a doctor note. At first, I didn't even have the feeling it had been real. It was like it had happened to someone else. But after several weeks, I was so fatigued and could not cope at work, I finally saw a doctor. They put me on total rest, then two months later, 4 hours of work, then 6 and I am now on 8. It affected the left side of my brain, so my right side of my body has been affected. The biggest change is the amount of fatigue. I am a fighter, so I don't ask others to help as it didn't change my personality. My father on the otherhand sounds just like your coworker. It has totally changed him and not for the better at all, but then he refused any type of therapy or help.
    First I would see what part of the brain was affected, what the results are on the body itself, and if there may be some counseling to help with the emotional and mental aspects they seem to be experiencing.
    It is indeed a complicated situation, and one which will take time to figure out the best solution as well as getting her to cooperate with what would help her. Maybe sheis still in denial or wants someone to have pity, but pity doesn't help. It is an enabler.
    The best thing is if you could know the actual results of the MRI, scans etc. to see what is affected and the residual effects of the stroke as usually it does cause a person to lose all confidence in themselves as a stroke is beyond one's control.

    Old 07-28-2005, 07:50 PM   #3
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    Re: Coworker with Stroke...

    Hi There -
    I'm Cindi and I'm 45 yrs old. I had a stroke a year and a half ago.

    Originally Posted by scbeauty80
    She is totally alone--she is not married and does not have children. Her family lives a few states
    That's me not married and no kids. But I did recieve better care than you're co-worker. A week in the hospital and a week in rehab plus I didnt have to return to work for a month. Even then I did have problems. They had to let me go in Nov, as I couldnt remember parts of my job, I had problems focusing, and a host of other cognitive impairments.
    Is it possible that her emotions and mental stability have been affected from this stroke? Any ideas on what we can do to make things better?
    YES. Emotional liablity-the loss of control of emotions, often happens with a stroke. For me my boss tld me I wasnt the same Cindi he knew from the previous year. And two months after I went back to work - he came to me and said he had gotten complaints about me yelling at customers. I had no idea I wasnt the same - and I thought I had just cause to yell at the customers.
    What can you do? Set her down, explain that her behaviour is out of the ordinary for her - ask her to speak to her doctor about it. He can prescribe anti-depressants and give her a referral to someone she could talk to.
    The thing is - maybe she has no idea she does these things. If you have told her she might not believe you, All part of the stroke.
    Everything you have said in your post - all stroke - she really needs to go to her doctor and tell him all these things - he could help her.

    It may be that she has to stop working. It's a shame that she didnt get good care - possibly an ins reason -I had good insurance.

    Wishing you the best
    Life is simple - just not easy

    Last edited by mercyfound; 07-29-2005 at 10:54 AM.

    Old 07-28-2005, 08:15 PM   #4
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    Re: Coworker with Stroke...

    Insurance/medical care was totally available to her the entire time but she refuses to take care of herself. We have all tried to talk to her but she just becomes more defensive...she refuses to take a day off. She is finally coming to understand the truth of the situation and that has helped but she just wants everyone to feel sorry for her and we are tired of hearing all the negativity...every single person in the office would bend over backwards to help her...but she has burned all the bridges and i don't know what we can to do rebuild those bridges. she continues to say that no one will do anything for her...the funniest thing--a wheelchair rep came to work to talk to her and she told him how horrible we were and that no one was willing to get her lunch so the next day he drove an hour out of his way and brought her lunch...we just think she is nuts. I hate to say it but we have all thrown our hands up...what do we do? We have tried patience, we have tried talking to her, we have tried helping her, etc...but nothing is working. I was VERY close to this woman after the stroke and I would drive her around and get her out of the house (b/c she refuse to leave) and there were times that she would say she was going to kill herself and I would just go home and cry b/c I didn't know what I needed to do. I've talked to everyone I can think of but I don't have an answer. My mom told me that a person has to learn to help themself first and then they can accept your help---she cannot accept anything at this point.

    Old 07-30-2005, 10:50 AM   #5
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    Re: Coworker with Stroke...

    This is serious problem that, in some ways, because of the failed hygiene issues could put the rest of your office in danger. Certainly not imminent danger, but there is some risk if she is incontinent of bowel and her failure to acknowledge that responsibility.

    As a social worker who has worked with neurologically impaired persons, mostly with strokes and head injuries, and who has spent 10 yrs facilitating a stroke support group, I can tell you this is not necessarily an atypical case but the extent to which it impact the others in the office is significant. So let me address, briefly, a couple of things.

    First, you. It appears as though you are assuming some caring and earnestness with this co-worker while simultaneously, allowing yourself to be put into a difficult position. Depending on the length of your relationship, how you two interacted prior to the stroke (pre-morbidly), and what you are willing to take on should allow you come up with some strategies. You need to have a heart to heart with the human resources division of your company. You need to let them know that the company can be held accountable for creating a hostile work environment for you and the others in your office and that you need some direction as to how they will handle it. You also need to let them know that if she falls at work and injures herself, then she may have cause for a worker's compensation claim.

    Secondly, your friend with the stroke. Emotion lability is a by-product of the stroke depending upon which areas of the brain are effected as well as her pre-morbid personality traits. If she was difficult before the stroke, there is every reason to believe that she will be hard to be with after the stroke. (In many cases). We can rationalize "why" she is doing what she is doing and, although that may help you to understand her better, it may not make the situation more tolerable. There is cause to think that she may be really angry about her situation and about her refusal to accept help. (It probably also explains why she has no partner, family living close by, or children.). Whether or not she will be able to assimilate your issues if you speak directly with her is better assessed by you than I. However, you may be able to create a level playing feel if she doesn't have to convince everyone that her life sucks. IF you agree with her, explain to her that you are amazed that she is doing all that she is doing, agree that you wouldn't be able to handle things in if you were in her situation if might help.

    Third, I think there is cause here for your boss to recommend counseling for her. Now, I don't mean the kind of counseling where she sits and talks about her childhood. I think she needs to see a neuropsychologist who, with testing and assessment, can help her to understand her situation better. A neuropsychologist will address specifically the stroke, its location, and the behaviors and cognitive components that wil be affected.

    I could write more, but I don't want to be so long winded. Write back if this helps of I need to elaborate on some issues for you. chris

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