I drove in with Darren again. Darren has a teenage daughter, who is becoming a pretty responsible adult. As we talk, I think I could probably pick up some pointers about daughters in their tweens. He and his wife, Barb, have some good ideas about daughters and part-time jobs and boyfriends. We should take note.
I start back to work tomorrow. I’m a little nervous about going back to work tomorrow. It seems like a lifetime ago that I was a vet. Well at least I don’t have to relearn it … like you - I just have to shift gears. My journal entries may be a little less frequent as I start to juggle the vet-work ball too.
My plan for the week is to work Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Then I can visit you on Tuesday and Thursday. On the weekend end we all will visit you and possibly stay over night.
You are dressed when I get to your room. Caroline, today’s nurse, said you had a bit of a fever. She gave some Tylenol and put a fan on you. You gestured to me you have a headache. It took a while to track down a nurse and we are still waiting on the urology consult.
Physio Steve and Linda work with you. Linda notes that both your hips are sore – left worse then the right. She suggested some xrays may be a good idea. During the physio, you say fairly clearly, but weak, voice that you want to sit up. You try to say something else but I don’t know what – I get a pen and paper – but no writing today. I think that it may be too much of an effort to write at this time.
I tell you about the Angels winning their division and that they will be in the playoffs with New York and Boston as the wild card. The central divison is still being sorted out. It will be either Detroit or Minnesota. I promised you that I’d tape the games if I can figure out your TV downstairs and when the games are on etc.
We get you in the chair – you fall asleep.
Lorraine loaned me a video called ‘Life Support Music’ about a young musician, Jason Crigler, who had a major hemorrhagic stroke and was on life support for a few months and then it documented his recovery over the next 2 years. The doctors didn’t expect him to live, let alone this dramatic recovery. Was this recovery exceptional … since it was unexpected by the doctors – it probably is exceptional. How common is exceptional?
I watch the video. It starts Jason, pre-stroke, full of life and expectations, very expressive and a fun guy. The it moves to various family and friends recalling his stroke as it started. I chronicles his days in ICU and the dismisal prognosis the doctors gave. His sister started a journal and she read parts of it for the film. The story tracks his hospital and the rehabilitation hospital stay.
His wife describes how time moved for her at this point. “Being in such a survival mode … time felt very different. Everything seemed like an eternity and a blip all at the same time.” I can certainty identify with these feelings.
He got an infection during recovery in the rehab and there was no health coverage for more rehab. So the medical community recommended that he go into a long-term care facility. The family felt Jason was ‘still there’. They were not going to give up on him. The whole extended family worked together to give him the rehab care and the environment he needed.
It took two years - but he came back. He reentered the professional musical career he had. He ‘grew up again’ with his daughter who was born while he was in ICU. One thing that didn’t return when the documentary was made, were his facial expressions. On the pre-stroke clips at the beginning of the film – he was very expressive and full of life. Now he isn’t. People can’t see his feelings, but they could hear them through his music.
At the end of the film – the extended family are having a meal to celebrate Jason’s exceptional recovery. His father made a good point “Faith goes beyond hope; You don’t say I hope his is going to get well … you say I have faith he’s going to get well.
Jason’s family transformed their faith, in Jason, into action for Jason’s recovery. Is this how Jason’s recovery became exceptional. Will this be what we need to do for you to make an exceptional recovery?
Sue, the speech and communication therapist comes in and does a swallow assessment and finds that you can swallow, but it is still very weak and you need to work on it. She gives me ideas about getting you to do exercises to enhance your swallowing ability. “See if you can move your tongue in and out and side to side, also press your lips together and blow to increase your lip strength.” She says. She suggested that a mirror would help.
I’m picturing some pretty amusing facial antics while we practice this together. I can’t wait until the weekend when Tara and Quinn can join in.
Physio Elaine worked your arm again. She is very pleased with the fluidity of your joints. She said that you should look to your left more. This makes sense. If you want to connect mentally with your left side – your eyes need to start the process. If you look to the left the limbs will follow.
She asks you some other questions and asks you to blink if the answer is yes. There is a long pause after the question – I thought you faded out on us and we lost your signal – then after about 15 seconds – you give a strong vigorous blink. Ahha! You are home. It just takes you some time to process the question and then figure out how you are going to communicate your answer through the blink. A process we don’t even have to think about but you have to do. It takes effort.
Elaine is quite demanding but I am happy with her approach. She suggests that I take you outside for a change of scenery. I was wondering if that could be done. I don’t think bright lights would bother you so it should be nice. Maybe Thursday.
She explains that it’s going to take a lot of hard work to get your body back. She asks “Are you going to work hard to get better?” You say “YES” with the most force I’ve hear from you so far – still a weak voice – but strong for you – You are thinking positively!
I choke up a little and cry – rejoicing in your determination – Thank God you are so determined – I pray that you keep that quality because with your determination and your family and friends’ faith then the exceptional is possible.
Today’s nurses seem to know nothing of a urology consult. I’m starting to get frustrated. I was with you all day and no consult.
I drive home with Marsha. I share my frustration with her. Her advice is “be assertive with the charge nurse”. She’s the one to talk to about my concerns. I wish I understood the patient care decision-making and communication hierarchy better. If the hospital would have told me how healthcare decisions are made and by whom, I would feel a lot more comfortable. As things are now, the only healthcare people that I get to see are the nurses and the occupational therapy and physio staff. I feel like there is no communication between your nurses and the doctors ... and us.
I pick up the children. Quinn is still under the weather and missed his swim lesson. Tara had fun at swimming. We drop off your car to get cruise control installed. Laura, fellow pool and school mother and runner, drives us back home. She has been running for you.
Annie greets us at the door happy to see us and smells really good. Val, from the vet hospital, gave her a big long walk and a bath. She smells very cuddly. We have another great dinner from the food fairies and after dinner we clean chicken pen. Now it smells good too but the chickens are not so cuddly.
We get a call from the hospital, my gut tightens, it’s Debbie calling to say that you have changed rooms. You are in “Room 7324 bed 2 … by the window!” she adds lightly. I think to myself that this may be good because there will be more nurse traffic in a double room then there was in a single room. There is always a silver lining to everything … that’s my rule. Hopefully I’m right.
I’m tired to night. I have got to go to bed early and dream about my assertive approach with the charge nurse tomorrow morning.