Thursday September 17
I didn’t sleep well last night – restless and disturbing dreams left me with the sense of helplessness and a head ache, I don’t know why – I hardly get headaches anymore since I started to life healthier life. I suppose the last few weeks are catching up – hope I’m not sick – than I can’t visit you.
At 5:30 AM, Annie greeted Marsha and Marianne the usual way – a butt sniff – that’s her way … her dog way. They comment on her name and say it suits her. “Yes, that’s what Chris said on the way back from Cape Breton where we got her – ‘She is an Annie – we have to keep the name’, he said”.
Annie came from a family friend’s farm in Cape Breton. Kate and Brook and their three children, Linnaea (10), Liam(8) and Eben(6)have a little piece of heavenly farmland nestled in the hills of Cape Breton. Their family dog, Phoebe had a litter of puppies April 20, 2008. She had 10 beautiful white fluffy puppies. We first saw them when they were 5 weeks old.
We were up in Cape Breton for one of Chris’ favorite running events, the Cabot Trail Relay. It is a 24-hour race with 17 legs. Most of the 65 teams have 17 runners, some with fewer. They start at St Ann’s College and run over all the peaks and valleys of the trail and back to Baddeck for the next morning. Chris ran in it for 2 years then he and Chris G took over as team captains. He loves this weekend of running, cheering the runners, the camaraderie, the sleepless night, the crazy antics … it is a complete joy. He looks forward to all winter. The last few years, he ran 2 legs of the relay and this spring he ran 3 legs (about 54km all together – I think).
Chris loves to go to Cape Breton for the relay and the children and I love to go to see our good friends. Chris and I talked about getting a dog, but he wasn’t ready to make the commitment. So I tried to keep an emotional distance from the puppies. Their father is a Maremma, a livestock protection dog. He is 13 years old now and fathered Annie’s litter at the age of 12. He is about 120 lbs and white and very hairy.He lives with many sheep, keeping them safe from predators like coyotes. He is a real working dog. Annie’s mother, Phoebe, is also a working dog – but she works part time on the farm and fulltime in the house. She continues to mother her three remaining babies (Annie’s siblings) and look after her human flock.
We got the see Annie’s litter once more over the summer. They were growing fast. We weren’t sure if, given their parentage, they would make good family pets. I continued to keep my emotional distance. In late August. Brook called and says there is one female that is not going to be a working dog. “She likes to be in the house too much.” He says. “Might make a good family pet.” Chris took the call and told me about later that night. “What are you saying?” I inquired. “Well” he said, “Let’s go up and check her out.” I smiled – my heart soared … so much for that emotional distance I was striving for.
Labour Day weekend last year, we went up to Cape Breton and brought home our new dog – Annie. Linnaea had given her the name and it suited her. Chris, who has taken great pride on naming all our animals since we met, felt Annie was … an Annie. Although, later, he added ‘Annie the Wonder Dog’. Chris has a real talent for finding the right name.
It’s another Marsha morning – a beautiful sunrise over the city greets us. Jenny, the night nurse, worked hard all night – a very busy night. Jenny, a nurse for 34 years, says you had a good night, thumbs-up and a new trick – high five, no tremors, a little diarrhea – mushroom catheter is back in (actually that’s ‘back end’ for Chris). She said you seemed to have enjoyed your teeth brushing. Your sodium level is normal! The extra fluids worked. Your temperature creeps up but not high like before. Tylenol helps that.
My head ache gone too … It was just likely stress and fatigue.
Dr Mendez stopped in! We talked about Chris – his advice –take life in 24 hours steps – He put into words (validated) what others have been telling me and I have been learning myself – Yes – day by day – that’s how I have to think.
We talked about stem cell treatment and it’s potential – which cells are the best – what’s the best timing for treatment? 250 M dollars have just put into this research – there will be a lot of information soon.
You woke up for about 20 minutes. You said Tara & Quinn’s names again. I am warmed by this act of love and determination. Tara and Quinn are going to be a big part of why you are going to reach your full potential.
I talk to you about what has happened and our hope for the future. I don’t know how much you can take in – but I talk anyway. I tell you that Janice (from PEI) is coming to visit this weekend – and how she’ll talk your ear off and you have no choice but to listen – that should be good for you. She, as well as many other people, have been thinking of you everyday.
Dr Mendez was in to see you again – by way of his new medical toy – a robot – which will enables him to see patients all over the Maritimes. An actual robot wheels into the room with a screen for a head with Dr.Mendez’s face projected on it and a small image of Chris and me in the corner of the screen. I get the feeling that he is a man that thinks outside the box. An inspiration to behold.
We spend a lot of time holding hands, I can’t do as much writing. Your hand is always exploring, and you try to say things but the tracheotomy tube prevents this. You feel my face and explore my shirt, your oxygen tube, your feeding tube and the blood pressure tube. While you were sleeping again, I write a letter to Rod C. Nothing ventured – nothing gain.
Dr MacNeil came in to change your tracheotomy tube to a type that will give you your voice back. That procedure took a lot out of you, you are sleeping again. Dr Grandy (of infectious disease) stopped by – will continue to watch over you but is very pleased with your progress in the last 2 days. Later, Dr Schleck (also of infectious disease and the name is not spelled right – I have to get it right if this ever makes it to a book!) comes in to see how things are going. It turns out we have a mutual friend in Truro who told him of the blog!
Steve and Rebecca, from physio, came with a special chair. Steve asked where were your clothes – Oh gosh –you have no clothes here! – I never thought of that – you came to Halifax naked and haven’t needed clothes until now. Mental note to me –bring clothes!
Steve and Rebecca sat you up – first time since that Sunday that you were upright. You are weak but had balance and could do things with your right side. This undertaking made you break out into a sweat – “It’s a lot of work” Steve said.
You fell asleep in the chair and I fell asleep in your bed ... for 30 minutes. Then Jay, Marty and Janice visit from the church. They think you look pretty good – last time Jay saw you was when you were in ICU with tubes coming from most body parts – You do look better then you did. But you still look a little rough around the edges. Time will take care of that.
I get a lift home with Jay, Marty and Janice. We talk about … Yup that’s right – you … You are going to get a swelled head after all this attention. The subject of organ donation comes up – and Jay wisely points out – that if you were still alive 24 hours later in Halifax after your collapse, you would likely still be alive after the same time frame – if you stayed in Truro. At that point, they would have likely investigated your condition more and got you to the QE2 for more help. It may have taken a little longer – maybe more damage – but you would have ended up in Halifax sooner or later. Did being an organ donor save your life – I don’t want to really know anymore.
Once home, I pick up Tara and Quinn and take them to music at Chella’s. Tara has enjoyed and thrived with piano and more recently singing with Chella. Earlier this year, Quinn expressed interest in piano lessons, but now, was not so sure. I asked him if he could promise me he would try it. Since he is seven, I asked if he would try it for seven weeks. He agreed.
Quinn’s lesson was first – in 20 minutes he and Chella did 15 pages of the first book and he is thrilled. Tara and Chella work on the Forrest Gump ‘Feather Theme’ that you like so much. At the end of the lesson T&Q start to argue – who is going to get to practice first when we get home! I think Quinn is sold on the piano lessons.
As we leave Chella’s, Sheena (Chella’s daughter), brings out two T-shirts. They are special shirts. A blue baseball one for Quinn with the word ‘Endurance’ on the front and the number 29 on the back. Tara got a dark pink shirt with hearts and the word ‘Strength’ on the front and the number 29 on the back. They were very pleased.
That night I read a Dr. Seuss book that Quinn picked out – It was an excellent choice for us at this time. ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go’. It’s a book that is good for all ages and very thought provoking as you get older. It is a must-read book.
Later at night, as I put away laundry, that had mysteriously cleaned and folded itself (thanks Marianne), I found a small polished emerald-green rock at the bottom of the basket. I though of the gratitude I felt today – and I knew just who I was going to give the rock to … YOU.
Today was a great day