Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday September 25 - Just One Foot in Front of the Other

I talked to Steve (brother) last night. He and Laura (wife) are planning to come to visit you sometime in October or November. Like me, he is consumed with your health and feels helpless to do anything. Your Mom also feels helpless in Ottawa and wants to travel here with a friend. She is going to make arrangements soon.

It won’t be long before you start getting a lot of visitors. Many people want to see you but don’t want to tire you and possibly slow you recovery. I’ll have to ask the medical staff – at what point are visitors helpful.

I didn’t sleep well last night – restless and looked at my watch every hour or so. I noticed while laying in bed that Himmy is drinking a lot of water. I have got to get him checked out. I think I might be a bit paranoid but I don’t want to have any other losses to our family.

I must be paranoid, because when I did sleep I dreamt there was a fire at the QE2 and I had to get you out of the building without the elevators. In the dream, I seemed to have super human strength and I broke the window in your room and got you, and some other patients, out on the roof to be rescued … then I woke up again.

Quinn started last night in his bed! It was for the first time since August 30. In the middle of the night he took the migration route across the hall. He found his way into the bed despite the fact that Annie and Himmy had it monopolized and I was hugging a small corner. Another reason why I didn’t sleep all that well.

I drove in with Kevin, who works in the city and is the father of three boys, about the same age as Tara and Quinn. We talked about summer vacations and sailing and we talked about our work and work places. I am starting to crave my work again. I’m looking forward to a solid 8-10 hours of thinking about other things. It will be a mental break, an outlet and a release. It’s my comfort zone.

I have arranged to work Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8 to 4. This fits in well with the children’s schedules of school and after school activities.

The week before this marathon started, we had just finished planning the children’s after school activities. Actually I planned it – you, quite wisely, went along with it.
We have gymnastics on Mondays, Swimming on Tuesdays, Ballet for Tara and more Gymnastics for Quinn on Wednesday, Piano for both and singing for Tara on Thursdays and Choir for Tara on Fridays.

We deliberately kept Saturday free. With Chris working Sundays and me working the occasional Saturday – there were very few days that could be a relaxing spontaneous family day. That’s right – I even plan ‘spontaneity’ for family times. I know you think this is a bit ‘over-the-top’ but you humor me.

Some might say we have over scheduled the kids, but if the children are busy doing things that expand their minds and bodies, then they don’t have time for my pet peeve – mind numbing TV and computer things. We do let them watch TV some but it amounts to less than 2 hours a week – and often less than 1 hour a week.

No time for trouble. A lot of circles of friends. Get to explore many interests. The recipe seems to work for us. But it was a schedule that really requires two parents who drive. Thankfully, our friends have collectively taken over a lot of the transportation and after school commitments. The kids are actually even happier then ever – they have a bigger circle of friends. I don’t think we have had the TV on since your marathon started.

You are a little more alert this morning. You had a good night, but you pulled out your nasal gastric feeding tube again. By the time I got to the hospital, they had it going again.

At 9:15 your tracheotomy tube came out. A large hole remains and a bandaid is put over it. The wound is to heal in gradually over time. In time you will get your voice back.
Quinn will be pleased – one more step to getting Daddy back. Perhaps this weekend, when Tara and Quinn are here, we will have golden chain ceremony to celebrate.

You are a little more alert this morning but the physio tired you out. You sleep and I write the journal and subconsciously scratch my head as I write about the lice.

When you wake, I take you to the patient lounge room for a change of scenery.

A woman whose adult son has been here for some time says she has also learned that she must take a day at a time. When supporting family members pass each other in the hallway – we exchange stories and feelings. It’s like an unofficial support group. It all helps. It is not a lonely journey.

You got 2 letters from Janice plus a binder to put the letters in. The first letter came with instructions, to the nurses, to read it to you when no one was visiting. It is hand written and surprisingly legible for Janice’s typical ‘dr writing’. It is also short (another surprising quality I didn’t know Janice had) but very meaningful and a short quote enclosed.

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary… Impossible is nothing.”

Nancy came to visit, she was pleased to see you and said that you needed to get better of the next Cabot Trail Relay. They are counting on you. It’s the rum runners race this weekend and something has been planned that you might like. “There will be photographic evidence.” She says.

We talked about your and Chris G’s wild idea of a running race in Truro … ‘Beat the Boar’. It would start in Old Barns and follow the dyke and Cobequid Trail. The timing of the event would have to depend on the lunar cycle – so it couldn’t be at the same time every year. But it would be fun. Nancy liked the idea. Who knows? That could be a project for you that will help get you going again.

You listen to your ipod for a while – it looks like you are sleeping but I spy your right foot tapping to the tunes. Another good sign.

While you sleep, I draw out plans for a outside chicken pen that is mobile and predator proof – so the poor chickens can get outside and enjoy a normal chicken life. Now, I just have to find time to build it. It looks pretty good on paper – I wonder how it will turn out.

It’s 4PM and I have to catch my ride. It’s raining and I feel a little down but I have to think about the progress that you made this week rather than today.

I buckle your right hand back in your hand cuff and say “Good bye, see you tomorrow, rest up for Tara and Quinn.”

I suppose this is the part of the marathon, where it seems like it won’t end – just one foot in front of the other – no major challenges and no victories … just one foot in front of the other.


  1. dear gwen & co
    perhaps the most difficult part of the marathon is the long stretch ahead. the long steady day to day stretch you are entering ... you have all done so well ... and have been so blessed. have faith, keep up the fight ... it IS all worth it. we are all praying and thinking of you ...

  2. Hi Mrs.Mowbray-Cashen,
    I was visiting my daughter and son-in-law
    when this happened to your husband. I am
    reading your entries each time I see a new
    one come up. I am now back in Ontario and
    wanted to write you and tell how brave, you,
    your children and husband are. Your writing
    is amazing, what a wonderful gift to be able
    to give your husband, when he comes out of
    this ordeal. I wish you well and will keep
    following your story.

    Laurel, from Ontario