Ouch! Hugging Hurts!

This is another in the continuing series of posts about things Strokees wish you knew.

I am very fortunate to come from a part of the United States where people are naturally, genuinely, friendly. Around here, people want to know who you are and how you are. So when you meet someone new, or even meet up with old friends, usually they want to shake your hand or hug you when they say hello. There’s just one problem with that.

You see, now, as a result of my stroke, the whole right side of my body is very sensitive to touch. Overly sensitive, in fact.

When I was still in the hospital, and I would need to get up for various reasons, including to use the facilities, one of the nurses or nursing techs would put those hospital socks on my feet first. You know the kind of socks I mean. They are nice and warm, and they have skid-proof stuff on the bottom of them. I love them.

But the problem was, when they put the sock on my right foot, it felt like the sock was burning – on fire. And that feeling would travel all the way up my right leg and on up my right side. Kind of a creepy feeling, like sandpaper. Or like a small electric shock traveling up me (which is really what it was.) VERY uncomfortable. Rather painful.

And the nurses/techs were completely unaware that this could be happening to me, the result of having had the stroke. They weren’t trying to hurt me. They were just puzzled how putting on a simple sock could hurt. If I wasn’t experiencing it myself, I would be puzzled about that, too. My physical therapist “PT Guy” says that this kind of resulting over-stimulated feeling is actually pretty normal after a stroke. What he doesn’t know, however, is how long it will last. I really hope that it goes away soon, or at least eases a bit. I don’t want to have this super-sensitivity the rest of my life.

So I have it in my right foot. But I also have it in my right arm, and especially in my right hand. If someone touches my hand more than just very lightly it hurts. If someone brushes up against my right side while they are trying to hug me, that hurts too. I can only think what it is going to be like the first time someone grabs and tries to shake my right hand. I wonder if I’ll be able to keep the pain off my face. I wonder if I’ll be able to turn away before the tears come.  Right now I’m afraid of someone wanting to shake my right hand.  I’m even a little scared of being hugged on my right side.

These are wonderful, warm, friendly people here. I’m warm and friendly, too. Lord knows I wouldn’t want to scare them or upset them! I think I need to do some research about this over-sensitivity. I think I need to know what I can do to make it better, if at all possible. If I find out anything, I’ll write another post about it

I don’t want anyone to be afraid of hugging me or touching me. I just need to know if there is anything I can do to make the hurt stay away.

I would love comments and suggestions. In particular, how have you handled this?

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