Friday, October 9, 2009

A Note to Visitors: Please Help Document Chris’ Lost Days

Even though you seem very aware at times, I wonder how much you will remember at the end of this marathon. I have become somewhat protective of this journal now. To me, it represents a view of your lost days. Granted, it’s my view, but at least it’s something for you to refer to while you recover.

I want the record to be as accurate as possible with details, but I also think that feelings are important too. Real communication between people is filled with feelings with just a few details thrown in for good measure. Details, by themselves mean nothing without feelings. For you to have the full benefit of this journal, it needs to have feelings. Even if they are not yours. In time, once you read this you will be able to fill in the gaps for your own feelings.

At a point in his recovery, a few visitors each day would help Chris mark the kilometers of his marathon. It will help mark time in his mind. Now that Chris is in a single bed room. Visitors don’t have to worry about disturbing other patients.

I plan to work on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I will need to focus on children, work and house chores on those days. I will be unable to document these days for Chris.

I am enlisting help from Chris’ friends to visit him.
 Keep in mind that visits should be short. He tires easily.
 Bring a photo of yourself and leave it with him. We are in the process of making a photo album of all his visitors. Write the date you visit on the back of the photo so he can place events in a time-line. This may help his memory later. Even if it doesn’t help with memory, to be able to look at the list of names and see the pictures will give him strength.
 There is also a clipboard on the windowsill with a stack of papers listing visitors. It was started at the Walk/Run for Hope night. Add your name to the list along with the date.
 The second magic blanket is there (grey one with signatures). Please add your name and a special message for Chris. There are markers with the clipboard.
 The last thing I ask is that after your visit, could you please write a few words about your observations and feelings. Mail or email them to me so I can add your comments to the journal to help Chris keep track of his lost days. or Gwen Mowbray-Cashen c/o Truro Veterinary Hospital 165 Arthur Street, Truro, NS B2N 1Y3

In her book ‘My Stroke of Insight’, Jill Bolte Taylor lists “40 Things I Needed Most”. I have listed some of the more applicable ones below.

1. Come close, speak slowly and enunciate clearly.
2. Approach me with an open heart and slow your energy down. Take your time.
3. Be aware of your what your body language and facial expressions are communicating to me.
4. Make eye contact with me. I am here – come and find me. Encourage me.
5. Please don’t raise your voice – I’m not deaf, I’m wounded.
6. Touch me and connect with me.
7. Honor the healing power of sleep.
8. Protect my energy. No talk radio, TV or nervous visitors. Keep visitation brief (five minutes)
9. Speak to me directly, not about me to others.
10. Cheer me on. Expect me to recover completely, even if it takes twenty years!
11. Celebrate all of my little successes. They inspire me.
12. Please don’t finish my sentences for me or fill in words I can’t find. I need to work my brain.
13. Remember that in the absence of some functions, I have gained other abilities
14. Love me for who I am today. Don’t hold me to being the person I was before. I have a different brain now.
15. Remember that my medications probably make me feel tired, as well as mask my ability to know what it feels like to be me.
16. Special note for Chris:
Chris’s gaze is to his right. Engage him on that side but if possible try to move to his left and get him to turn his head and eyes to the left.

To ensure that Chris is not overwhelmed but, instead, has a slow trickle of visitors, please email or call me and let me know when you are going to Halifax.
Call me at: 902-895-6336 or email:

Thank you all the positive energy and support you have given to our family.

Last Friday October 3, Chris had three visitors. Here is what they reported:

From Janice and Les:
“Words can not explain how Les and I felt during and after our visit with Chris. I was holding his right hand and chatting up a storm. All of the sudden he let go of my hand put his right arm around my back, pullled me down to him and said my name. I kissed him on the cheek and told him, teasing of course, that he had to forget that part as he will never let me forget it. He reached across to Les, took his and said thank you as we said how much better he is looking and we would been there all the way to support him in this journey. He responded in such a way to us, either by squeezing my hand or nodding his head that we both felt he was with us the whole time. When we left he waved good bye. I left, feeling overjoyed and I can't wait to visit again.”

From Laura:
“So, WOW Chris seems great! When I first got to his room around 9:00 his eyes were half open and I don't think he was aware of me but then he gestured that he wanted to sit up so I pushed the button on his bed and I untied his hand restraint. He seemed to be listening quite intently when I told him how the Tidal Boars did at the Rum Runners Relay. He shook my shoulder like "Good job Laura"...I then had to explain I couldn't make it to the relay...sorry Chris.”
“I then got a klennex to wipe his nose and he grabbed the klennex from my hand and blew his nose...didn't know he could do that. He kept grabbing the hand rail and he said he wanted to move so I tried to get him to shift his position a bit but he was hard to move. He then said "doctor". I think I made a crack that is hard to find Drs in a hospital but I did tell a nurse that he wanted a doctor. I asked him to squeeze my hand if something was squeeze. I said "oh, you want to ask the Dr. some questions? he said. yah. I said "ask me , maybe I know". Hmmmm, I can't remember what he said to that. I had to stick my ear practically on his mouth in order to hear him ... I am sure he appreciated that. ha. Then around 10:30 the physio people came and so I left for a bit. Then when I came back he was sitting in a chair all dressed and I asked him how did it go and he gave me an enthusiastic thumbs up and then fell asleep.It was good to see him.”

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