Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sunday October 18 – Healing Tears

It’s seven weeks today since the stroke. Seven weeks of slow but steady improvement. I think you are going to find your pace soon and it will be a little faster. I think, reading cards and the well wishes to you to celebrate the end of the seventh week in the marathon would be good therapy. I think you are ready for this.

Tara and I spend the early morning picking out nits from her hair. I found one nymph and no adults and a few nits. Tara is fed up with the whole lice thing now. She has no interest in the lice other then “Get them out!”

I have taken precautions that any hazardous material specialist would be proud of. Considering we are ‘sleeping around’ most weekends, I have lugged pillows and sleeping bags with us. Our laundry would rival the entire Orlando’s Disney World at Spring break. I even dried the laundry in the dryer at a high heat (to kill those little suckers). Our power bill will reflect my efforts. Our clothesline looks sad … it looks naked.

The children have a quick swim at the pool at Lenore’s apartment. They play a magic sea world. Tara imitates whale sounds. The sounds echo in the pool beautifully. Quinn goes along with Tara’s seaworld game. He asks if it is OK to jump or dive in this spot or that spot. He doesn’t want to hurt any animals.

They work out a swim dance with each other using seahorses and dolphins as part of the act. Tara and Quinn take this very seriously.

Tara said on Sunday AM before seeing you “Before, when I would talk to Dad, I thought ‘Ok that’s Dad’ but he didn’t really seem like Dad – I didn’t really know what to say, I would say ‘I love you’ and wish him well but he didn’t seem like Daddy. But now I WANT to talk to him. Daddy is Daddy. I can talk to him like before about things like school and other activities in life – I’m finding more words to say to him” She said this monologue with such excitement and happiness – It was a joy to hear.

We get to the hospital. Barb (the social worker) dropped off information about children handling grief and worries about having a sick parent. I’ll read it tonight.

You peed again – Christine says that you done this a few times this weekend – Yeah, that’s great

We went outside to the veteran’s gardens again – you didn’t remember to visit there last week.

As we get into the elevator, Tara and Quinn get in first and before I can manoveuor the wheel chair in the elevator the doors close without us. I calmly say “That’s OK, we will go down on another elevator and meet them there. We get to the 4th floor – no children. I wheel you along the hallway, thinking that they are just around the corner playing hide and seek as they so often do. But no children. Now I start to panic a little.

We go back to the elevators and I leave you by the elevators on the 4th floor while I go up to the 7th floor. The plan is – if the children come back to the 4th florr you would round them up. On the 7th floor there are Tara and Quinn – Quinny looks weepy enlisting the help from an LPN. We meet up with you on the 4th and continue to the gardens.

This incident reminded me of the bad dream Quinn had the night before. He was waiting for something and got lost … Gosh that’s un-nerving. Quinn’s dream from Saturday AM

The children play in the garden and I show you the flower sculpture water fountain I want you to build me when you get better. You got cold and asked to go back inside. As we head back in you say “I’m worried, I think we need a top notch ER guy – I explain what happened and how far you’ve come – you cry – you display a lot of emotion (facial expression worry and sadness). You weep – I weep – Tara and Quinn watch and are a little confused then they get it – my tears are tears of joy – You are back! Your tears represent the start of conscious healing. It was a very emotional moment.

You are concerned that you’ve left me a lot to do – “Don’t worry there are so many people in our lives that have been so moved by your strength to keep going and not give up. They want to help in any way that they can. Thanks to you – that support has been a wonderful gift for Tara, Quinn and I. I don’t feel burdened at all – I feel enpowered to keep cheering you on in your marathon and I know you are going to get better.” I said. “We have so much support that you have no choice but to make the best recovery that you can.”

I ask if you remember the race or anything about that day. No you didn’t. It’s have to know when your memories left off.

I tell that “I love you”… You say “I love you more.” You said this to Quinn yesterday and now me.

Quinn started this game a few years ago. When we kiss him good night – we would compete on how much we loved each other – Quinn would rally the ‘I love you’ challenge to me and I would volley it back to Quinn ‘I love you more then all the stars in every universe.’ Then he would pitch it to you ‘I love you to infinity and beyond’ and you would hit it back to him ‘I love you more then all the grains of sand in the world’ or something crazy like that.

Finally, our imaginations were exhausted of ways to describe our love so I you or I said ‘I love you to Quinn’ – Quinn would simply reply ‘I love you more’. The ‘I love you more’ statement became the family joke.

Quinn agrees with me that you should own the rights to the ‘I love you more’ phrase. You earned it.

We talk. I tell you about this being the marathon of your life and how it’s the biggest toughest marathon that anyone has ever known. I tell how you are not running it alone. You have so many people cheering you along the sidelines every step of the way and helping you along the way. – You won’t get lost. You won’t get hungry or tired. You will be able to just keep running and running and get well.

Your fans are going to help you, in any way they can, but ultimately it is still your marathon and you have to run it.

The mood lightens when Quinn asks you to thumb wrestle. Quinn won twice; You won once. You both follow the Cashen Code: Play to win. Quinn has a smile on his face and I believe you have happiness in your heart.

The thumb wrestling wore you out. While you rest, Quinn starts his version of the worry wall. While drawing pictures, Quinn explains the idea to Tara. Tara stars her own worry wall.

Death, wheel chairs and canes is what worried Quinn. Tara is worried about you being paralyzed and our house exploding. I thought that she was trying to be funny with the exploding house but her reply sobered me. “Any thing can happen.” she reminds me.

While you rest, we go back to the DIscovery Centre and check out the Freak Lunchbox – a candy store filled with candy of all types – none if it good for you other then eliciting a taste memory in the older crowd. (like me)

When we get back, you are awake, I ask if you remember who is coming next weekend to visit you. “Steve and Laura” you reply. I thought - this is great we are on a roll – let’s see what you do remember. I ask about your parents – “Do you remember them being here?” (They had left 8 days ago.) You don’t remember that your parents were here. You do express worry about how your mother is handling all this.

You wanted me to read some more cards – I read about a dozen cards. One referred to the Truro Daily news article and so I read you the article. You cried again. When I pointed out that Chris’ Addiction to Life Marathon had 29 characters – another stream of tears.

Tara comments on your flood of tears. “Gee daddy, Before now, I have only seen you cry once during a movie. This weekend I’ve seen you cry 5 times.” Tears of sadness, love, joy … and maybe pain. You have feelings and emotions inside and it is so good to see them come out.

The brain injury probably makes you more emotional.

Terry, Chris and Hailey come to visit again. Chris wanted to read to you an article about the Angels but couldn’t find any so he read to you about the LA Dodgers instead. You helped him understand the story – You know baseball – Chris knows of other things like whale skeletons and how to make go wine.

I didn’t want to leave – but it was getting late and it’s a school night. I’m glad Terry and Chris dropped in and stayed with you for a while as we left. I would have been hard leaving you alone especially awake and aware of things. This is an emotional time for you.

On our way out of the hospital, I ran into the recreational therapist – I asked about a TV – she thought that that would be OK now. So I will set it up tomorrow – maybe in time for the Angels game!

Terry called and said their visit was very good. Chris read some sports stories and you enjoyed them and answered some of the questions Chris had about the stories. When you answered, occasionally your full voice broke free – just for a short word or syllable, like a teenage boy’s voice breaking. Most of the time you whisper but your ability to project is getting better. I had noticed this a few times this weekend – moments when your voice popped out.

Terry said you wanted to smell the flowers they brought you! (Huh - what’s this – you want to smell flowers?!) Maybe your sense of smell is heightened. I smile at this thought – picturing you and Annie comparing notes on the fine art of the olfactory.
Chris stepped aside for a minutes and you said to Terry “I see you are still attached to him”. Your humor is still there.

Tara, Quinn and I went to Juanita’s for dinner. It’s nice and feels comfortable checking in with them at the end of the week. Mum gave us a cheque for the ‘Chris’ Addiction to Life Marathon’ for $116.00 – I asked why $116 Mum? She said “116 is 29 x 4”. Mum likes your math numbers too.

When we got home, Karen pulled up. Her husband, Hollis, has been recovering and continues to recover from his stroke over a year ago. She wanted to reach out and tell how she identified with some of my feelings. Feelings that I didn’t like. Feelings I had when I read Dr. Walling’s report to the insurance company.

She had the same thoughts. I felt validated. While talking I realize that the spoken word conveys so much more then the written word. When Dr. Walling sat me down and said the prognosis was guarded and recovery would likely not be complete. I interpreted the information differently then when I saw the same information in writing.

Why? I guess the unspoken communication - body language, intuition, even voice inflexions all can amplify or dampen down a message. I am going to chose to ignore the written words and go with my gut and what I know to be true when it comes to things that relate to you.

Karen also found that her work was easy compare to the skill and strength it took to navigate her way through Hollis’ illness. I’m not alone – Karen has traveled this path last year and she finished the journey successfully.

Friday Oct 9 A note from Marilyn and Doris:

As you know, Doris and I went see Chris last Friday; you saw the mug shots, no doubt! I did leave a message because he was sleeping when we first went so we went and had a visit with Joan. When we came back the girls were getting him up. He certainly knew us and held onto my hand the whole time. His mum and dad arrived too so it was nice to see them so upbeat with the recovery that Chris has made. My maternal instinct was just to hug him and make him better, as we do with anyone we love. I hope that all the love and hugs will encourage him to be the best Chris that he can be. I am like Quinn, I just want Chris to get his ‘funny’ back!


  1. This is WONDERFUL news Gwen & Chris! I smiled through this entire entry.

    Cheering from the sidelines,

    John H et al

  2. i agree, gwen.
    this IS wonderful. chris is still there ... but he is struggling to resurface. and he WILL resurface. i did. i resurfaced from a 3 year bout of depression following my heart attack ... to find my beloved lynne sitting there, waiting, holding down the fort, holding my hand, knowing i would be back ... as chris will be back. god speed to you both.