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Would you let dc visit someone after a stroke?

(31 Posts)
aptera Sat 08-Jan-11 19:49:15

I don't know what to do. MIL had a stroke a few days ago and is in hospital partially paralysed and unable to speak. She managed to communicate (through gestures and sounds) to dh that she would like the children to come and see her.

My feeling is that I would prefer to wait for a week or so at least in the hope that her condition improves a little as I am worried that it may be distressing and worrying for dd1 (6) and possibly even dd2 (2). DH is keen for them to visit as he feels it will cheer her up.

Does anyone have any experience of this situation?

ItsAllaBitDeathlyQuiet Sat 08-Jan-11 19:51:06

I'd imagine if she sees the children distressed by seeing her, it won't do her any good?

onepieceoflollipop Sat 08-Jan-11 19:53:57

This is tricky. I don't have direct experience re a stroke, but when dd1 was about 3 she went to see her grandfather who was quite ill in hospital (fil)

Mil was very hmm about it, but she is about a lot of things and has strong opinions about what might be "suitable" for children to see/know about.

She was relying on me for a lift so conveniently she put her worries to one side.

It is my opinion that children are fairly resilient and if you explain things to them (in a way that is age appropriate) then it is perfectly fine for them to see an ill friend/relative. I don't think personally that children should be shielded from illness. (obviously if a relative was severely injured or terminally ill one would exercise more caution)

It is was my 6 year old in your situation for example, I would explain that granny isn't well, and can't talk very well and her face might look a bit funny. However granny would love to see her and how about mummy and dd1 go and choose a little gift to take her.

You could make it a brief visit or possibly your dh could take the dcs? In a situation like this I would limit it to a few minutes and then get them a cake in the cafe.

canyou Sat 08-Jan-11 20:11:29

Can you explain to your eldest that Granny is sick and her voice/ hand does not work, bring stuff for them to do and get them to make pictures/painting/flowers for her. Also Oneopiece is right keep it brief with a treat to look forward to, Very hard to do but keep it normal as possible.
One thing we did when an Uncle had a stroke and was unable to speak was we left a note book there and whoever was in wrote XXX and YYY visited we spoke about A,B,C it meant she could have 'news' for the next visitor.
Also we gave him an Ereader with light novels on so he could read without trying to hold a book or turn pages.

littlebylittle Sat 08-Jan-11 20:13:46

Think they often cope better than we do. They don't over think and with explanation seem to take in stride. That's my experience with dd and illness and disability. But each child different and you know yours best.

gastrognome Sat 08-Jan-11 20:17:00

I agree with onepieceoflollipop.

I'd let the children visit her, but prepare them first by explaining that granny is ill and can't talk/move properly, etc.

My father suffered several strokes and the worst part of it was that I knew he was still "in there", just couldn't communicate properly with us. He really did enjoy all the visits from friends and family.

So if your children could help uplift her then I think you should let them visit. It would probably be a real boost to her and might aid her recovery, you never know!

(Also don't want to be pessimistic but I suppose one shouldn't rule out the possibility that her condition won't improve, but could get worse. Sorry if that sounds blunt, not trying to be insensitive or anything)

asmallbunchofflowers Sat 08-Jan-11 20:21:25

We had a similar situation when someone in our family had a stroke. They did not want the children (who were roughly similar ages to yours) to visit because they thought the children would be upset. But in fact the children weren't at all alarmed - children are often far more accepting and matter of fact about things than adults - and their visit cheered up my relative and the other people on the ward.

kreecherlivesupstairs Sat 08-Jan-11 20:22:14

I would take your DC to see her. I saw a woman improve beyond original prognosis by being around her grand child. The baby was used as a sort of bargaining chip shamelessly.

Doramustdie Sat 08-Jan-11 20:23:01

My mum took my DSis and I to visit a neighbour who had just had a stroke and was recovering at home, when we were about 9 and 7 I think. I've never forgotten it but I wasn't disturbed or traumatized by it. But mum explained really well what had happened, what to expect and how to behave I. E. Be patient, calm, don't ask barrage of questions. Listen to replies. We went because the wife needed help, mum was a nurse, and dad was at work. But I do remember we took our new puppy too. The wife was toting with getting one as they said at the time it was helpful to stroke victims.
I can't advise you I'm afraid. But your MIL my get some pleasure from seeing the DC.

aptera Sat 08-Jan-11 20:27:21

You're all making me feel a bit more positive about doing it.

And in fact this evening dd1 said, 'Is it a bit like in Lizzie Zipmouth?' - she had a reading book from school about a girl who wouldn't speak, and the girl befriended an elderly lady who went on to have a stroke leaving her temporarily unable to speak beyond 'gargle gargle'. So maybe dd1 is better prepared than I'd thought. I'd forgotten about that book till she mentioned it.

ON the other hand dd2 (2years 2months) keeps asking me, 'where's Grandma's talking gone?' I explained that we didn't know and that Grandma was looking for it. She said, 'where is my talking?' so I told her it was in her head. 'Yes, mine head. Where's Grandma's talking gone?' I said we didn't know, and she asked, 'Sad?' So I said that yes, Grandma was sad about it but that dd2's card had made her feel happier.

onepieceoflollipop Sat 08-Jan-11 20:30:59

Obviously we all make decisions that we feel are right for our own dcs/family.

However, for our family it is right that we don't try to cover up illness or over protect our dcs. I look ahead a little bit and think that if my dcs had no experience of adults' illnesses or other difficult circumstances then this could bring its own issues when they were teenage/young adults if they had been sheltered or over protected.

However I wouldn't presume to judge what you decide is right for your family.

As long as you give a sensible and consistent response to your dd2 (and your older dd) this will perhaps help to clarify things for them, regardless of whether you take them to see Granny or not. Could you perhaps take the 6 year old initially as a compromise if you are more worried about your younger daughter?

exexpat Sat 08-Jan-11 20:40:40

My mother had a stroke when the DCs were 9 and 5, and I did take them to see her in hospital - I went the day after the stroke, and took them the following day, so I was able to warn them about her speech etc as other posters have recommended above.

They took it in their stride, chatted to her a bit, though were a bit more reserved than usual. I think they found it reassuring to see that she was still Granny, IYSWIM. Though in our case there was additional need for reassurance as the last person in the family who had been rushed to hospital was DH, and he died - the first thing DS asked me when I told him granny was in hospital was, 'Is she dead?' so it was quite important for them to see that she was OK.

If your MIL is keen to see them, I would go, but talk it all through with the DCs before, and keep the visit very brief, and if possible have a spare adult to take the 2-year-old out of the ward if it gets a bit much.

onimolap Sat 08-Jan-11 20:42:42

I think children can be very resilient.

The key is in explanation and in making all explanations very matter of fact - chances are they will take it all in their stride. But if you are not yet feeling confident, then wait a while.

I've taken my DCs to see someone similarly recovering; their reaction was fine - not something that I would say of all the adults. (They were 4&8 at the time).

It's tough, I hope you all get through this well.

Ormirian Sat 08-Jan-11 20:44:28

Just explain and take them to see her. Poor woman sad Don't make her feel like a leper. Children accept what is there for the most part if the adults around them don't make a fuss about it.

ilythia Sat 08-Jan-11 20:54:22

I would take them, but prepare them beforehand.

MIL had a number of very serious strokes last year and the DD@s went to visit her a number of times, the first time she had improved a bit but was in a wheelchair with use of only one arm and slurred speech. They were a bit wary as it wasn't grandma that they knew but she felt better for seeing them playing and they felt better at knowing what had happened to grandma/why she wasn't around the house.
We told them she had a problem with her brain which meant she couldn't move very well anymore but she was still grandma and still loved them as much as she did.

I also took them (against most advice) to the hospital after her last stroke when she was virtually paralysed but able to see (we think) and hear but not expected to last more than a few days to say 'goodbye' They did not want to get too close as it confused them a bit but we took them to her bedside and read the some stories so she could hear them. They both kissed her (they thought she was sleeping) and said goodbye.
She died a few days later and I am glad that they were able to possibly offer some small comfort.

It may have confused them/upset them a little bit but I woudl rather comfort and not to stigmatise the very ill/dying than to shield my DD's from reality.

whomovedmychocolate Sat 08-Jan-11 21:05:50

I was taken to see my aunt who had had a stroke when I was seven and remember it well. She had one side of her face sort of sunken and could not speak beyond grunts.

She died a few days later but I was glad I'd got to see her and I know she was happy about it too.

aptera Sat 08-Jan-11 21:12:37

Thank you everybody. I think I'll go ahead and take the girls tomorrow, just for a very short visit. Thanks so much for your perspectives.

alittleteapot Sat 08-Jan-11 21:15:28

I took my dd to see mil when she had a stroke and was in a similar state but dd was a bit younger. I think on balance any upset to the children vs the positive effect on mil comes out in favour of the latter - because I think any upset to children will be brief and ok actually - whereas seeing them could really give her a boost. Make it very brief and have them make her some nice cards etc and fruit and handcream or whatever, so there are things to do to give the visit some structure - sitting around can be more tricky. I think if you can be as straightforward about it as possible the children will take your lead. Prepare them and they will understand that although distressing this is part of life. The six year old will also respond to the idea that the visit will really cheer up Granny and help her feel better.

My mil is now up and about again but has various mobility problems and also she is very tearful. I find this quite tricky around the children but dd (now 3) takes it in her stride.

Wishing you all well - it's a tough time. Hope she makes a good recovery soon.

Dumbledoresgirl Sat 08-Jan-11 21:15:53

My mother had a stroke (thankfully she survived it) and I did not take my children to see her until she was out of hospital (though I would have done had she asked to see them).

Reasons for not taking the children (if you want to hear the reverse to most arguments here):

My mother (and maybe also you mil) was not in a state to see children for several weeks. My mother was very confused and did not make much sense for a long time. Children would have confused her more (they still do on occasions). Even if your children don't find that upsetting, it may not help your mil's recovery.

Even if your mil is able to cope with seeing her grandchildren, you have to consider the other patients on the ward. I spent some time with my mother, on several occasions, and often the other patients were more upsetting than seeing my own mother. Many of them are very dishevelled, confused, behave very oddly, etc. You have to consider what effect this will have on your children, and also what effect your children will have on them.

Just a couple of thoughts to consider before you make arrangements. I hope your mil is better soon.

chatee Sat 08-Jan-11 21:20:00

i took my ds aged 2 and 9 months and my dd aged 6 and a half to see my mum when she had a stroke(otherwise it would have been impossible for me to see her)and mum wanted to see her precious grandchildren, like most people have said, explain a little in their terms so they are not frightened and warn them about other patients too....

my ds on one visit when my mum was in bed said
" come on nan we will put you in that wheelbarrow now and take you home with us to get better"

he was of course referring to the wheelchair but we still laugh about it now-including my mum

aptera Sat 08-Jan-11 22:30:39

Thanks so much. Dh says 'thank you' too for all your comments.

Dumbledoresgirl, in a way you've confirmed for me that I should take them. MIL is not confused, she is I think very much herself but she looks a bit strange and is furious because she can't speak. I think she would be much cheered by seeing the children, so it sounds as though your mother's condition was a bit different.

I love your wheelbarrow story, chatee, very sweet!

I'll take the girls, make sure it's just a very fleeting visit, and stuff them with cake afterwards.

By the way, canyou, thank you for the idea of leaving a notebook by her bed. I think it's a great suggestion.

asmallbunchofflowers Sat 08-Jan-11 22:45:46

Dumbledoresgirl raises a very important point, I think, about the severity of the stroke and how incapacitated the person is. My relative had (mercifully) quite a small stroke, was weak but lucid and could speak. They were also on a medical (not a stroke) ward where the people were poorly but were in good enough shape to enjoy seeing the children there. In different circumstances, a visit might not have been appropriate.

Dumbledoresgirl Sat 08-Jan-11 23:14:34

I hope your visit goes well for you. You are right: strokes affect people in different ways, depending on which part of the brain is affected. My mother never lost her ability to speak, and only had very slight weakness down one side. Her vision and thinking ability was (still is) affected though.

The very fact that your mil has asked to see the children suggests she is in a different place mentally than my mother was.

I still think my point about the other patients on the ward is still worth considering though. Is your mil on a stroke ward? Is she in a room on her own? Is she on any sort of medical support, eg drips, monitors? Would any of the other patients be linked up to such things? Is it possible to ring the ward first to discuss these things with the nursing staff, just so you are sure what you are letting your children in for?

Sorry, I am not trying to put you off visiting with the children. I simply have experience of what being on a stroke ward can be like.

canyou Sat 08-Jan-11 23:17:30

Aptera could you check that the hosp will allow your DC in to visit before you say anything to your DC. I know that with swine flu and winter vomiting bug my local hosp often ban DC as they are infested with germs high risk esp for the swine flu

Icoulddoitbetter Sat 08-Jan-11 23:31:57

I second what everyone has said about taking your children in after explaining to them that she cannot speak (but that she can understand them). But, Canyou makes a good point about if they;ll be allowed in. When I was on the postnatal ward after having DS they wouldn't let my nephew in because of swine flu. Also my FIL was in medical ward recently and we were told DS shouldn't really be allowed in due to the spores in the air being a risk to him. Just call before so you don't make a wasted journey smile

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