Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Monday October 5 - A ‘Stroke of Luck’

It’s raining again. The roof is still leaking. You better get better. I need you to fix the roof.

Quinn moaned, groaned, coughed and grinded most of last night in bed. It was like you were right there with your post cold cough, groans, coughs and grinding. Quinn seems to have replaced you in our bed. I think most of these symptoms are related to the after affects of his virus last week. But, I plan to call the doctor and see about an appointment, to be safe.

I play the conservation that we would have had through my mind about Quinn’s condition. You would have said “Call the doctor”, I would have said, “Let’s wait a few days – I don’t to use antibiotics without good cause.” … I think I will defer to your judgement and call the doctor. I don’t want anything Quinn has to interfere with you and your recovery.

I get to you later in the morning then usual. Mum had an appointment with one of her doctors at 9:40 in the QE2 – but it took so-o-o long. I came up to see you while she had some xrays taken. You were awake. You seemed happy to see me. You said “I love you” loud and clear. It made my heart sing.

I get out some cream and rub your feet. I’m still working on your peeling calluses. You seem to enjoy this. I massage your right leg.

While I massage your feet, Lea and her mother from the church came to visit briefly. Lea had talked to me almost a month ago, shortly after your stroke, and told me of a very vivid dream that she had about you. It was a good dream. It gave her hope. She gave me hope.

Lea is almost 4 months pregnant and really starting to show. I tease her (and you) about dreaming of you while carrying another man’s baby. We all know that if you could, you would have had a very smart comeback. We all laugh at the thought.

After they leave, I had to go and collect Mum from her xray and take her back to her doctor to discuss the findings. You asked me “Don’t go yet.” I stay a little longer.

On the days that I come to Halifax, as soon as my feet hit the floor in the morning, I can’t wait to get to your room. I feel anxious about not seeing you. I think it’s because I realized over the past 38 days, that before the stroke I had been taking your presence for granted.

I know there were days when you would come home from the church and I would say I something like “Oh you’re home”, blandly stating the obvious. I haven’t reached up to kiss you or even hug you much lately … in fact – I probably haven’t even smiled at you… I took you for granted. Like most interactions that happen in one’s life – basic things like oxygen, food, toilet paper – One tends to take them for granted until they aren’t there. (NB You are a lot more important to my existence then toilet paper.)

I pray that the good of this situation, for me, will be that I never take you for granted again.

Along your hairline of your right side of your head is your scar. At first it was an unpleasant reminder of your stroke. Now, I shall think of it differently. I will no longer think ‘Stroke’ when I see your scar, I will think ‘Stroke of Luck’. I think of how lucky we are to still have you … all of you.

When I get back with Mum in tow, your parents are here, Marion or DeeDee and Dick. (Since the children were born I’ve always called Marion, DeeDee.) They had arrived yesterday from Ottawa. The last time they saw you, you were in ICU with the 13 wires and tubes coming out of your body. You have changed since then – lost tubes and weight.

Dick says that when you first saw them, you asked “How are you?” – Those three small words have already has made their visit worthwhile. It doesn’t take much for people to feel connected to you. And yet, I’ll bet saying those three words took a lot of mental and physical energy.

Juanita, Maddie and Farley were here too to drive Mum back to Truro. You were interested in Farley. After he was nursed, Juanita lay him beside you nestled in the crook of your right arm. You looking pleased to snuggle with him and he had the ‘milk drunk’ look of contentment on his face. I wished I had my camera.

We get you in a wheel chair and wheel you around the floor. We settle in one of the two patient lounges. You sleep and we talk about you. Maddie is interested in you but still a little apprehensive. She sat on my knee and coyly played with your fingers of your left hand. You wake up and start to try to interact. You tried to get her to give you a high five – no luck.

When we were in Newfoundland, last summer with Maddie. You and Maddie spent lots of time playing a game. You would slowly circle your finger in the air in a spiral fashion centering onto Maddie’s tummy. When you made contact with her tummy you would make an odd sounding ‘squawk’ with your throat.

When the high five didn’t engage Maddie’s interest today, you reverted to what you knew would work. You slowly circled your finger in the air and started to center it onto her tummy. As you made contact, I make the ‘squawk’ sound for you. This thrilled Maddie and in an instant your relationship was renewed.

Before I left the hospital, I talked to Theresa, the charge nurse, about your pain and lack of sleep. She said she’d push for some more pain management with acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Hopefully pain management will help with getting a restful sleep.

I also asked if it was possible to get into a quieter room. Possibly, you can room with someone with similar issues as you. It has been very frustrating trying to listen to you. As you muster the mental energy to talk, someone else in the room would cough or groan or talk or an alarm would sound or a squeaky cart would roll by. A-a-augh-h-h! The timing of these noises seemed to correspond with your efforts to talk almost 100% of the time. A room change to a quieter room could help sleep and communication.

On the way home, I get a phone call. Quinn didn’t feel up to his gymnastics again this afternoon. I am definitely calling the doctor. He is at Ann’s home. He likes going to Ann’s after school. When I went to pick them up they were they were eating dinner. I am enthusiastically informed that Ann is a very good cook and I could learn a few things from her! While Ann and I talked, the children finish eating and then hide.

Ann and I play hide and seek with the kids. We found them hiding under the stairs with Quinn wearing a gorilla suit and Tara in a caterpillar costume along with Hannah in a superman outfit. The children really love going to friends houses after school.

We get home and there is a letter in the mailbox from New York. Actually from Cooperstown, New York. No it wasn’t from Rod Carew. It’s from a good friend, Terri. She had been following your story and decided that she would go to Cooperstown – site of the Baseball Hall of Fame - on a pilgrimage for you.

She decided to go on Sept 29th because … well you know – just because it’s the 29th. She bought a ticket and after hearing your story, they actually gave her the ticket! It had been raining but at one point the sun came out and she saw a rainbow! The work of faeries? Terri wonders.

I looked back in the journal to see what you were doing at that time. Sept 29, late in the afternoon. You were working with Elaine and she asked you “Are you going to work hard to get better?” You said, “YES”. You said yes with as much enthusiasm as you could muster. I think Terri is right there is some magical force at work here and we are only seeing the beginning.

Every day there are little gifts of words and actions from our friends that continue to help make us strong and keep us having faith.


  1. Gwen,
    My mom Marilyn is a good friend of Chris and yourself from St Andrews. I live in Toronto and follow your journey daily... my kids and husband follow along too as I fill them in. Often with tears and some chuckles. This is an amazing blog and so inspiring. When Chris is able to read this he will be so proud of you I am sure. Take care of yourself and those adorable kids and we will all keep you in our thoughts and prayers. I will keep reading... take care.

  2. I can't wait to get better (and my Chris too) so we can go and visit him again. He is so amazing and you are too. love Terry