It’s another beautiful Marsha morning – although still dusk when we leave Truro – you don’t know what’s the weather going to be like until we are almost in Halifax. We talk about food. Marsha and her husband are great ‘from scratch’ cooks. I have a garden of fresh organic veggies that are looking for a good home. I think I might have found a home for some of the produce.
You are awake when I get here – up since 5 AM! The docs did rounds at 6 AM, I get there by 6:45. Your eyes are open. They drift from thing to thing within the room - exploring. Perhaps you are searching the room for something familiar. Despite the visual search, you don’t seen very responsive.
I tell you about the Angels win yesterday over Texas: 10 - 5, “now they are 7.5 games up!” No obvious response. Are you sleeping with your eyes open again.
A lab tech comes in to take blood – you are very cooperative. That activity wears you out – you sleep. While you are half-asleep – I notice you tuck your right hand in the waistband of your hospital clothes. Gosh – another familiar gesture. Whenever you would fall asleep in front of the TV, you would usually tuck you’re the finger tips of your right hand in your waistband. I guess that little ‘body position’ memory is back!
Dr. McNeely was in to visit briefly. He asks how I think things are going. I optimistically say that I see little subtle changes each day – and I try to hang onto those for hope. Their advice: Patience … Mmmm … not a strength of mine.
Tracheotomy tube will be capped and we will see how your oxygen levels perform – if you play this game well you will get rid of your tracheotomy tube and win back your voice … and your golden chain!
I noticed last night that I’ve lost some weight. I don’t know why, I am still eating and trying to eat healthy, I do forget sometimes to eat but my stomach reminds me eventually. I’m not getting much exercise – except for doing seven floors of stair once or twice a day - so I don’t know where it’s going – Perhaps it’s the weird hours I’m keeping - I am a morning person now – a new default set in my ‘hard drive’ brain.
Stress has always caused me to gain weight in the past – I’d eat my way to comfort – This is a different type of worry – a worry that, I feel, is completely out of my control. I guess my body deals with it differently.
Remember when we had a hailstorm. It was on a day that we both had off. You wanted to go for a run and as you left you said the weather looked odd. The children and I decided to go for a hike cross-country to Juanita and my Mother’s house. A little bad weather was no deterrent to us. As we entered the top of Victoria Park, the hailstones came down – it was a fantastic experience for Tara, Quinn and me.
We reached Juanita’s house with hailstones in our pockets to put in the freezer and stories to tell. You were running when the storm hit but rather then be deterred – you made the best of it and you hydrated with the hailstones – sucking them in your mouth as you ran. By the time you got home you had composed a write up in your head to put in a running club newsletter entitled ‘Hydrating with Hailstones’. You felt that this was a test for you – and you passed – you ARE a serious runner.
You are a serious runner – you ran through that hailstorm and you managed to run through the ‘hailstorm’ last week – and you made the best of it. What do I have to worried about – really?
While waiting for Debbie to get you changed and into your chair. I talk with a gentleman in the family room. His wife came to the hospital a few days before Chris. He has had some worries about his wife and her care. He feels his wife has received quite a range of care – from medical staff who go beyond their job description to others who give mediocre care. He said this especially true once his wife was a regular hospital bed.
He also talked about his frustration with his wife’s progress. Even though, she is cognitively aware and able to participate in her rehabilitation, they were still waiting for a space in the Rehabilitation Hospital. He is painfully aware that the best outcomes occur when rehab is started early.
Debbie tells me you are moving to a new room this afternoon. I think of the advice I was just given. There are pluses and minuses to the move. I guess we will have to see.
It’s the first day of fall. I think it’s your favorite time of the year. Probably for a number of reasons. The crispness in the air makes you think about baseball season series starting, good running weather and it’s time to play pickup football with your friends.
At noon, I go for a walk, while you are sleeping. I going to check out the tourist bureau to see what activities I can find for the children to do when in Halifax – so their visits to Halifax offer them other experiences. I think it’s probably better for them if they visit you for short periods so they don’t wear you out and you can get your rest.
As I leave the hospital, I walk past a stretcher with a body shrouded in a green cloth… A person with a different story and a different outcome. I put my hand in my pocket and rub the polished ‘gratitude’ rock and give thanks.
This is the first time I’ve been outside the hospital in the middle of the day since your ordeal began. I walked for about 90 minutes – it felt like I was away for hours – I couldn’t wait to get back. My mind clears as I walk and I begin to understand my coping strategy.
I couldn’t bear to think very hard about the present, and I couldn’t imagine what lies in the future, so most of my journal has been about our past. Remembering those events – gave me comfort. Now, I think I’m getting ready to embrace the present – because you are still here and fighting for a future. I am beginning to realize that thinking too far into the future is pointless and dangerous – it serves no purpose now. This is my epiphany for the day.
The lady at the tourist bureau was very helpful. She shared that her husband battled cancer when their children were young. That was 12 years ago. Life is good again for her family. Everyone has a story … his or her own version of a miracle. It’s strengthens me to know that recovery is within reach.
You are alert again – we hold hands, you seem very alert now – I talk about the children and coming to Halifax. Mid way, I stop and ask ‘If you hear me, squeeze my hand once”. You give a good long squeeze. Good, I think. “OK, if you understand what I’m talking about, squeeze my hand” …Nothing – Oh what does this mean? I rest my head on your lap. And my eyes well up.
A little later, Juanita, Wayne, Maddie and Farley come in – you perk up. We talk. I tell Juanita about the plan to move you and periodically test to see if we can remove the tracheotomy tube. Maddie looks at you closely, from a distance. She doesn’t want to get close. Juanita lets you see Farley up close. You hold my hand, then you pick up a towel with your right hand and wipe your face! – Another first. We talk more – I don’t know if you understand me or not.
Marsha comes in after her shift. She is impressed at how much better you look. I don’t see the difference. “Well, when you see him every day – it’s harder to spot ... He does look much better.” I want to believe her … there are moments when I do.
As I say good bye, you whisper – “drive me home”. I explain that you need to stay in the hospital for longer but you WILL come home. I said “ I love you”. You say “I love you” fairly clearly.
Turning and walking out of that room was very hard to do.
I think I’m going to have learn a new trick – learn to live in the moment. Being a planner, by nature, means living in the moment doesn’t come naturally to me – I will have to work at it. If Chris can continue to improve a little each day – I will learn to live in the moment. I probably have the easier job.