On this week’s episode of the Seekers of Meaning TV Show and Podcast, Kyle Ruffin, author of “In Stroke’s Shadow: My Caregiver’s Story,” talks about caring for her mother after she suffered a debilitating stroke.
When Kyle left her marketing position at one of Philadelphia’s iconic media outlets to start her own consulting business, she thought she was finally in complete control of her life. She had no idea things were about to take a sudden and dramatic turn. A few short months after launching her dream, Paula, Kyle’s youthful, vibrant, and active mother, suffered the first of three strokes. Within the space of twenty-four hours, stroke catapulted the mother and daughter into a whole new world and a relationship for which neither was prepared. In Stroke’s Shadow is Kyle’s caregiver story.
Over the next three years, Kyle single-handedly managed her severely debilitated mother’s life through waves of medical and personal crisis, surprising ups, sudden and calamitous downs, generational clashes, shifting cultural expectations, and heartwarming moments of support and love from caring friends and family.
“We can’t believe how devoted you are to your mother,” friends and family would say. But in her heart, Kyle knew she was driven purely by the unshakable regrets that had haunted her since the sudden loss of her father and her sister’s prolonged suffering and death from lung cancer. But would that be enough to carry her through the anguish of caregiving and an ugly family controversy that sprung from secrets Paula had long kept?
In Stroke’s Shadow explores a journey so many are, will be, or have been on. This poignant memoir spurs readers to reflect on their own experience and release anxieties familiar to all who find themselves on this road. It is an unapologetic look at the struggles, conflicting family expectations, exhausting frustrations, self-doubt, and the internal tug of war that shapes every caregiver’s reality.
Kyle’s story offers a release valve to caregivers, particularly caregivers of color. It acknowledges the overwhelming hardships while encouraging often underappreciated family warriors to occasionally put themselves first so their healing can begin.
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About the Guest
When Kyle Ruffin left her marketing jobs at KYW Newsradio and Philadelphia Business Journal to start her own business, she had no idea her life would take a sudden left turn. Within a few short months, Paula, her young, vibrant mother suffered the first of three strokes. Kyle was Paula’s only immediate family member and she became fulltime caregiver for her mother, who’s condition dramatically changed both of their lives.
Kyle’s book “In Stroke’s Shadow: My Caregiver Story” chronicles the ups, downs, surprising moments of love from a caring community and shocking revelations that marked a nearly 3-year period. She wrote this book because the lessons she learned were too valuable to keep to herself.
Caregiving leaves a mark on one’s soul that can last well beyond the loss of a loved one. Kyle uses her story to provide caregivers — particularly caregivers of color — with tools and perspective that will help them see themselves through loving eyes, understand their unique truth and give them permission to “indulge” in self care.