Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tuesday October 27 – It’s The Real Thing … Thickened Coke

I drive into Halifax with Darren. It’s a much saner hour then when I drive with Marsha. I can get the children off to school first and I don’t have to ask Marianne to come over at 5AM to sit with the children so I can go with Marsha. She says she doesn’t mind but I don’t want to abuse the offer.

Darren talks about his youth group and why he became a RCMP officer. His Godfather and uncle is Donald Marshall Jr.. Darren talked passionately about Donald’s personal conviction to over come the adversary and his endurance to do so. Even when faced with then temptation to admit to something he didn’t do - to get parole - he didn’t. It was a sacrifice. He kept his eye on the prize of vindication and freedom and stayed true to himself.

There is a lesson in Donald’s story that can be taken to heart and applied to many life situations. I feel you are overcoming your adversary, to get the prize, you need to not let the pain distract you. I have to focus on the prize of your health and not get bogged down with feeling the stress.

Darren is a runner. He s he will run the Cabot Trail again next spring – he wants to do two legs! Eventually, he wants to run every leg of the trail (just like your dream)- So that he will be on track to retire from the RCMP the same year as he runs the last leg of the trail. To make this happen he has to run two one year. This year is the year.

You are in a talkative mood. Your nurse, Ryan, is an athletic looking young man. Ryan tells me that you described him as a ‘brick shithouse’. He took it in good humour. Ryan gives you a shot of morphine so that the MRI of your lower back will go easier. They had tried it yesterday but you were too restless.

You clearly like Ryan. You called him your best friend - and this was before the morphine shot! You say you want to have a party and invite all the nurses and all the people who love you. “You have had a lot of nurses and there are a lot of people who love you. – So it will have to be a BIG party.” I smile at the thought.

I can picture the day you come home – the first time I dared to let myself stretch my imagination that far. It makes me smile.

I tell you that you have been in the hospital for 58 or 2 x 29 days yesterday. “Does it feel that long?” I say. You reply “On the short end of that. Has he (you are pointing at an empty chair) been here that long?” You were sure someone sat in the chair but you are unsure when.

You are still trying to measure time and see how it feels.

To get you refocused, I suggest a super party on your birthday next year. (June 25th) and you chime in that we should have Chinese food. “Yeah, Chinese food is good – it’s like a New Year celebration.”

You decide that you would even invite the physio people. The physio people are not very popular with you. You say they make you do things that you can’t do. Last week you told them when they came to do some work with you that you had to go to the bathroom (actually you were more descriptive then this). That scared them off … or so you thought. However despite your feeling about physio, you don’t hold it against the people.

You are pleased with yourself that you passed the swallow test. For breakfast you had a little yogurt and thickened orange juice. When you taste the OJ you remark ”Orange juice is really good.” You sounded surprised. I was surprised too – normally fruit (except bananas) would not even cross your mind as a food to eat – orange is a colour to you not a food.

I read you some emails, letters and cards. You are touch by them.

You want a pillow for your head, I comply and then you say you want a pillow for your other head. I think the morphine was working.

You are off of your MRI. We hope it may reveal some answers about your pain. The bone scan was clear. They are looking now at your lower back. Ryan and I change your bed sheets. Ryan tells me of some patients he has had who, after the recovery from a stroke, had the feeling of pain but could not describe it. The patient couldn’t where it was and how it felt –just had an impression of pain. No source could be found. It was thought that the pain originated from the brain. Various drugs were used but they didn’t help. Gosh – I hope it’s not that. Chronic pain would be a nasty legacy from a stroke.

I discuss with Ryan an observation that I made about your pain treatment. When you are asked by a nurse “Do you want pain medication”, you say no. But when you are asked if you are in pain – you reply yes! I point out to Ryan that you don’t like taking drugs for pain. At this time I wonder if you are capable to make that decision – it requires too much decision making. Asking if there is pain is an easier question to answer. Ryan agrees. Hopefully this will be passed on to other nurses. I think that I will talk to the charge nurse about this too.

You get back from the MRI, which was a no go. You were still too restless. You will need sedation. You are frustrated with the MRI staff. “They need a sound talking too.” You said scoldingly. I’m not sure what your complaint with them was but you were indigent.

When one of your charms fell from the bed when we got you back in bed from the stretcher – I was upset. These charms – especially the 29 was important to you. Apparently, your gold chain was removed for the MRI. Whoever removed it didn’t realize that there were three charms on it. The golden 29, the St Christopher medal and Janice’s crucifix. We eventually two of the charms but not the crucifix. Sorry Janice.

Fran arrives to visit. We ask Ryan if there is some way you can have thickened Coke Cola. Shirley, the dietician, says yes and gives us some thickening powder to add to it. Fran has to go to Quinpool road to get a Coke – the QE2 is a Pepsi only hospital.

You taste the thickened coke with much anticipation. You are very gracious about it. You didn’t say it was great but you did especially like it either. Oh well You like the orange juice – maybe this a new taste beginning for you and you won’t want any unhealthy food. Certainly, feeding you your favorite foods and an altered state while your brain is healing could set you up for taste aversion.

You wonder aloud “Why would the Dr. put thickener in my coke when they are giving me blood thinners. Maybe the blood thinners will make the coke right again.” Fran and I couldn’t argue with that logic!

You seem concerned about Quinn. You say “We have to be careful how we steer Quinn, I don’t want him going this route. I want him to stay away from all the terrible things. I want him to know about all the potential dangers.” I not sure what this is in reference to. Perhaps you will know later in your recovery.

You ate some puree meat, potatoes and gravey. It was good you said. You ate half of it – taking long breaks between spoonfuls. This is a skill that needs to be relearned.

Physio Linda came and worked with you. She notes that you have a little ‘cross over’. This is a term for a sort of reflex. When you were asked to pull your knees together while laying on your back with your knees bent, and Linda held your good right knee still – giving you resistance – your left buttock muscles tighten a little as if the message from the right side is spilling over to the left side. She feels that this is good.

You express frustration with your body. A natural outcome – but I don’t want frustration to use up your energy. I remind you that this journey is a marathon and that there are many steps before the end – some will be harder then others. You reply “Can I take smaller steps then?”

You don’t know it now but you have already taken the big steps.

Fran meets me at home. She had just been to visit Dad at the Mira. He has been unwell lately and over the past few weeks – He has had some tests were done. It’s cancer … pancreatic cancer. I’m numb. We don’t know how much time he has – it won’t be long. We hold each other.

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