Quinn asks this morning – out of the blue – “Will you tell me when Daddy’s tube comes out?” “Of course – it might even be today.” I say. Quinn seems relieved, he has been tracking your progress by the number of tubes you have going into you.
In ICU you had a intracranial pressure monitor and drain in your skull, a nasal-gastric tube for feeding, a tracheotomy tube, a central line, a venous line, a urinary catheter, a mushroom catheter, as well as the pulse ox wire and four lead ECG. This makes a grand total of 13 (tubes and wires) emerging from you.
It was hard for me to see you like that and I know what they were all for and how they helped you get well. It must be very hard for Quinn to see and understand – no wonder he has decided to measure your health with the number of tubes.
“Hey! There will only be two tubes left!” he says sounding pleased. “Now, that’s progress.” He says sounding rather grown up.
Tara is up early, dressed with her hair beautifully brushed and pulled back into a ponytail. She is looking a little more grownup too, taking responsibility for some little but still important things, like the fish feeding.
Tara and Quinn: Don’t get much older – stay little for Daddy – He doesn’t want to miss your growing up.
I drive in with Megan. Megan is a young lady who is wise beyond her 22 years. Her boyfriend, Jason, wrote a newspaper story about Chris’ Addiction to Life Marathon. Megan called me last week to see if I needed a ride. She comes to Halifax 3 days a week to finish her teaching credentials.
She tells me about her personal experience with left-sided paralysis after a nasty car accident six months ago. She told me to give me hope … it did … Now she is driving a standard car and was playing baseball this summer. Her recovery is not complete – but it is almost.
It’s obvious to me she is a very determined individual who let not let challenges block her way in life. She worked hard at her recovery and had Jason and a very supportive family watching her back all the way. I got the sense that SHE made her recovery possible but the outside support was a much-needed safety net.
In our conversation, she shared with me on her philosophy of friends. She said that her mother told her there are three types of friends. People you are friends with for a reason (you may not know the reason at the time but it will surface at some point). People you are friends with for a season (you help each other through a tough time). Lastly, there the lifetime friends.
Reason, Season and Lifetime friends - I wonder which type of friend she will become?
You are almost dressed and ready for physio when I get to your room. You had a good night with the tracheotomy tube – The oxygen levels have been very great. Your NG tube is on the other side – you pulled it out last night! So they replaced it on the right nostril – I suspect you are not impressed. Once the tracheotomy tube comes out the NG tube will be the next ‘ball and chain’ to be removed.
While you are half-asleep in the bed, I note that your right leg is making rhythmic movements as if you are walking … or running. Do you realize that this is a marathon. It will take a little while to get there since there is still no movement in your left leg.
You have 2 student nurses Kim, again, and Jenn too – The students are from the NSCC. Sadly, for them and us, their education might be put on hold because of a pending strike. I feel badly for them, this is a very good learning environment and the patients get a lot more nursing attention with the students here.
Kim brings some mail - a binder that Janice and her gang sent – with letters to read to you to help inspire strength in you recovery. The students are thrilled at the idea. I’m touched. Janice, Edwin and their family always think of the little things that make big differences.
The students keep checking you all over – lots of attention. They noticed the purple nail polish that is growing-out on your big toes. The ICU nurses knew exactly what that was a sign of – a great Dad with a young daughter. I think you enjoy letting Tara make you into her canvas.
The student nurses ask me why I brought running shoes with holes in the toes. I said that I thought that shoes that were like old friends - would be the best. I did have to pick a pair out of a collection of 15 pairs of shoes.
I have to give you credit – you do throw out about 1 –2 pairs every year. The problem is – you add 3-4 pairs to your collection every year. You don’t to be a math genius to figure out that after more then 12 years of running you would have a small flock of shoes.
I think you regard your retired shoes as old friends that you want to visit from time to time. You know your shoes far better then I. You even know which shoes you ran a specific race in.
Your shoes do vary a little, but they are all Asics gel running shoes. The model number and colour may vary, depending on the year. The problem, with this practice, is that you don’t know if you are mixing up the lefts and rights with a closet full of identical shoes. How do you know that the left and right shoes that you mate together will get along OK? Maybe they compete for your attention and slow you down ot trip you up!
I hope I picked some comfortable old friends for you for this marathon.
Physio Steve and Jill get you sitting up and stretch your back. They try to get you to lift your head up – your neck muscles are weak, I’m instructed to try to get you to turn your head from side to side to help keep your neck supple.
In a chair – we do a ‘wheel about’ the floor. There are four sections to the seventh floor. Two orthopedic and one cardiovascular and the neurosurgery unit. Lots of stories pass through these halls – lots of hope and miracles too.
When I got back into town, I picked up Tara from the vet hospital, where she went after the lice were found. She was looking at a louse under the microscope. “Augh, that’s gross” she says as she shutters. Lisamarie, one of the best nitpickers I know, had just spent the last few hours nit picking and recovered 3 adult lice. Tara’s hair looked quite beautiful now.
She bottles her prized lice and names them ‘Franko’. While I am pretty gung-ho about exploring all aspects of nature, I really feel that lice should be in be segregated from other life forms. I seal the bottle with duct tape. She wants to take to school tomorrow! I guess she is not too traumatized with the whole lice thing, although she is annoyed she had to miss almost entire day of school over it.
2004 was the year of the lice. Chris calls me at work one day. “I was playing catch with Tara and Quinn outside and you won’t believe what I found.” Well he was right – with that type of set up – I was thinking – a deer or rabbit or raccoon or something that lives in the woods. I wasn’t thinking head lice. “Tara’s hair is crawling with them.” He says.
By the time I got home with Nix shampoo, Chris had picked out and saved the evidence for me … in case I didn’t believe him. There was a lot of evidence. Tara (4 years) has the worse dose but Quinn (2 years) was a close second. Chris found some on me and I found some on him. Eeeck – I still shutter with a creepy crawly feeling when I think about it. It took us 2 months of continuous treatment to get them all.
2004 was the Year of the Lice. I make a mental note to check you tomorrow.
When we got home, Tara found $10.00 of quarters in the ‘food fairy’ cooler by the front door. I said to her “That’s what you call ‘cold hard cash’. She didn’t get it – I had to explain it to her. She said “That’s funny Mum, but not as funny as Daddy”. Thanks Tara!
Music lessons were next. Chella could tell they practiced. Quinn still loves the piano.
Then we were off to ‘Meet the Teacher’ night. All the children’s teachers are great … it’s going to be a good year.
Things I learned today: Lice are not friends. Shoes are old ‘Reason’ friends and we have a lot of ‘Season’ and ‘Lifetime’ friends.