Thursday, October 15, 2009

Tuesday October 13 – The Donor

It’s another early morning as I drive in with Marsha. As I update her on your recovery, I tell her about the other day when I was putting skin lotion on you. I tried to get you to connect with your left side. I placed a little lotion in the palm of your right hand and ask you to rub it on your left hand and arm. Rather then reaching for your left arm, you start to apply the lotion to the pillow that is beside your arm.

I believe you don’t have good proprioception, the knowledge of where your body parts in space relative to other body parts. I told her that I was worried about this. She replied that at least you know the general area where your left arm was and you did know which way is left. Both good points.

You are asleep when I get to your room. The nurse had just catheterized you at 6 AM. I let you sleep. Your right leg is restless and I rub it for you. That seems to settle the movement for a while. I’m still sleepy. I rest my head by your legs that helps the restless a little.

Dr. Harraher, the resident, stops by with a herd of students behind her. Says the PEG tube placement this week will be a step closer to getting you to the rehab hospital. Overall, she is pleased with your progress. I guess, from her prospective, you are doing well. I need to believe this too. That is hard because, from my prospective, 90% of the time, I see the parts of you that are missing. Most of the time I don’t see the 90% of the parts that are healing.

I try to adjust my prospective.

Occasionally, your left leg will spontaneously extend at the ankle or flex at the knee. It seems to happen on it’s own schedule, not on command. The same goes for you left hand. There is no predicting it. Every time it happens, I feel a wave of hope.

I image the brain looking little a giant electrical panel with all sorts of circuit breakers. You flip a switch and see what happens. The electrons flow for a moment then they get switched off again as the circuit breaker is switched off. You are trying to figure which switch controls what body part.

You get your renal ultrasound today. I had asked Dr. Harraher about it – she was going to check on it. Within 30 minutes, a porter was at your bed to whisk you down to the 3rd floor for the ultrasound. Your kidney stone in the left kidney is still there. It’s almost 1cm diameter. The ultrasound technician says stones are common and the large ones don’t usually cause a lot of problems because they stay put.

Your nurse today is Mark. Your first male nurse. He is meticulous. He hasn’t had you before. So it takes him a little while to know what’s going on. Your blood pressure has been good. And your temperature is normal. You are only on one blood pressure medication now.

Barb, the social worker, pops in. I ask her about Quinn. She says that a 7 year-old would naturally assume that “if this can happen to Daddy it can it can happen to me”. It is a seven year-old logic. He identifies directly with your illness.

She says don’t pressure him to talk. Just let him share what he wants to share in a safe environment. She suggested drawing pictures together and talking about them or going for a walk and letting the conversation meander to you and your illness. Listen, and when he wants to talk, I should validate his feelings. I need to tell him it’s OK to feel sad or angry. I should tell him I share the same feelings. He is not alone in his feelings. She finished her advice with the promise of reading material for me to help implement this.

I feel better now … I have a plan.

On the drive home with Marsha, she tells me about her day. The surgical team, she was on today, were working on an organ donor. A 32 year-old woman. God, that must be hard to do. I ask if it’s difficult to look at the donor’s face, during the procedure. She said it was. I think it must very strange for a surgical team to work at removing life from a body rather then trying to restore life within it.

I told Marsha how you were almost an organ donor on Monday August 31. She didn’t know your whole story. I told her about the first days of your illness. As I tell her about your story, the image of the 32 year-old woman from Marsha’s day morphs into an image of you in my head.

I pick the children up from Assieh’s. Neither felt like going to swimming today. Quinn was hungry and after eating he had a sore tummy. Tara hurt her hand at school. When I get there, I assess her wrist. I told her that we should ice it to help with pain and swelling. She’s not convinced that well help. She plays for a little while with the other children, then comes up stairs clutching her face. A foam ball hit her in the left eye. She doesn’t want to open the eye. She has forgotten all about her sore wrist.

While Assieh and I sooth her and try to see the extent of the damage, Assieh says “What’s that in Tara’s hair? Is that a louse?” Oh gosh it was! They are back. I’ve treated her hair Sept 24 and Oct 2 and we still have them. Suddenly I notice that Tara’s eye seems much better too.

Who would have thought that the cure to a sore wrist is a ball in the eye and the cure to a ball in the eye is lice in your hair. I get reminded of the children’s song ‘I know an old lady who swallowed a fly’.

We pulled out a few lice and dosed Tara with a generous coating of olive oil. Assieh and I check everyone else and each other – to other victims. But I feel the creepy crawlies the rest of the day.

A few hours later, I comb out a total of 29 lice. Yes 29 – Tara took great pride in counting them. 29 lice! Is that some sort of weird sign? If so … Yuck.

Janice called from PEI. She tells me of her visit with you early yesterday. She wanted me to know about the conversation you had with her. A lot of the conversation is centered around water and drinking. Ice chips or Coke Cola or chocolate milk. You weren’t fussy. You wanted fluids of any kind.

You expressed an unflattering opinion fairly openingly about your nurse from yesterday. Janice agreed with you. She seemed more interested in getting things done then about your feelings.

You asked Janice “Is it Christmas time yet?” This is the second time you have asked this. In the early days, you write this on a piece of paper in the ICU. “Why” she asked “Do you want to know so you are ready for Tara and Quinn?” “Yes” you reply. So Tara and Quinn were right. You do want to be ready for Christmas and possibly help out Santa again this year. Janice followed up the question with “What do you want for Christmas?” Your reply … “I want a new start and ice chips.” Janice and I are always amazed how you can make us cry and laugh at the same time.

During the bedtime story time, we are all on the bed. This included Himmy and Annie – they were almost touching! Your cat and my dog are becoming friends!

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