The Living Cage (translated from Norwegian by Stephen Collett)
Per Løvhaug has been a journalist, a writer of fiction and non-fiction books, and an organic farmer. In March 2007, at seventy years of age, Per experienced (was struck) by a massive brain hemmoragh (cerebral stroke), that left him physically incapacitated. But his writer´s mind kept writing and with the help of an assistant taking dictation he published this book three years later. More
A cerebral stroke strikes the patient directly, but those who are nearest, particularly a spouse, also have their lives changed. And around the nearest circle are the helpers – the health professionals. So there is always the three P´s: patient, persons near, and personnel. Each of these needs to find his/her place on a scale of emotions, from despair at one end to hope at the other. It is not uncommon for emotions to swing between these outer points.
The remedy is treatment, in the acute phase, and it is vitally important that it begins as soon as possible and that it is effective. There follows the intermediate period of care and gradual mobilization, and then the extended phase of therapy and rehabilitation. This final phase continues without end, in part because one can always improve, and in part to assure that achievements are not lost. The goal is the mastering of the disability and of life itself. Mastering is not the perfect “as I was before”. Mastering is in persevering, in continued training and in keeping hope alive: We will not ever give up, and not even then.
It is critical that the three-P´s understand what has happened, and they need to understand it with both reason and feelings. To achieve this we need to hear the stories of those affected, namely the patients and persons near them. Per Løvhaug is a journalist and writer. He manages to put words to his experience and emotions, so we can learn from him. He explains how it feels in a manner that we grasp and are ourselves gripped by the telling. He shows us how emotions swing throughout the scale, but still lead towards hope for a livable life. He shows us what love means when catastrophe strikes.
I hope that many will read this little book and be gripped by it as I was. There is hope in the midst of despair, and we must grasp that hope. Gallows humor is often good help: Seize the day, or you can call it a night!
Peter F. Hjort
Professor Emeritus, University of Tromsø