Sunday, November 15, 2009

Friday November 13 – Martha Visit

Someone said to me this morning, “It’s a beautiful day… you never know how many we have left.” Those words have a new meaning to me.

It’s a Martha / Marsha morning. ‘M squared’ I come to your room in the morning before work, and you are holding court for Martha and Marsha. There are laughter and good feelings in the room. What a great way to begin your day. There is lots of positive

I’m glad you need that. Yesterday, Dr. Carpenter came to do a bedside visual test on you. It’s crude but – the findings are obvious. You have no vision on the left side of your left eye and no vision on the left side of your right eye. A typical finding with brain injuries. He suggests that when you are more mobile, we get a proper visual field test done at his office. I, stupidly try to draw out from him some optimism that you can hear. He offers none. The losses are probably permanent. You are not happy with this finding. And want a second opinion.

You point out that you have always prided yourself on your ability to spot things that most people have to search for. This information is changing your definition of yourself. “I’m a invalid and I’m blind.”

I suggest that you are not an invalid – you are recovering from a brain injury and we don’t know what the end result will be. To define yourself as in invalid now only limits your possibilities for later. “Think big. Dr. Carpenter is an ophthalmologist, not a neurologist. He knows eye disease but his specialty stops at the optic nerve. You neurologist’s job starts at the optic nerve. He is just telling us – something we already know – your problem is in your brain. Don’t let the word – blind – limit your thinking.”

The M factor morning has helped move new ideas into your head. Martha heads home to get a little sleep – she was up most of the night. A hospital is no place to get a good night’s sleep, especially in a chair. She says that you slept well except of on wakeup in the middle of the night when you had to pee. A result of continuous liquid food through your PEG tube at night. Over night you take in 1440 mls of liquid food. The certainly is enough to fill a bladder at least twice in the night.

Once awake from doing your duty, you and Martha talked for a while. Martha felt had she not been there to talk to, you would have gone back to sleep.

When I get to work I learn that both, my sister, Juanita and Cecelia, a co-worker at the animal hospital have dreamt of you. In their dreams you are walking. Over the years, I have known Juanita and Cecelia to both have an innate ability to tap into some sort of psychic information highway in their dreams that is predictive of the future. The right side of my brain wants to believe in this -–it is a comforting thought.

It’s Friday the thirteenth. So at noon, I order some Chinese food for you to have with David. This is a tradition that you two started a few years ago. Whenever Friday the thirteenth surfaced you would dine with David, a friend from the Church. David is very good at reminding you of these dates. As far as I know you have not missed on date in the past 3-4 years. This time Martha will dine with you.

I got an email from Pete, a friend in Ottawa and a call from Sarah, Martha’s sister in London Ont. We slowly hatch a plan to make evening phone calls part of your evening routine to help with the anxiety of being alone.

We only have a few weeks, I hope, until you are ready for rehab. A few weeks to get your morale up and get you thinking positively about your up coming rehab adventure.

The positive messages that you get will help you get your attitude adjusted.

This, I hope will also take a little pressure off me to be by your side every night. The pace of being by you whenever I can is starting to get to me. I seem to have even less time to do things, like children activities, errands and groceries etc, now then ever before. Whenever I have a block of time open to do something – I find myself going to your side. The other things in life get put on the back burner. I can’t keep this pace up. I am looking forward to the day you go to rehab for many reasons. One of the reasons is, selfishly, to give me a little more time to myself.

Tonight, We planned on more Chinese food. It was Juanita’s idea. To mark your new beginning. With family and friends in Truro, we thought we would take advantage of this opportunity to mark it with them. Uncle John and Shirley, from England, Erin, Martha, Luiz, Neeson and Erik along with Juanita’s family and my Mother all collected in the cafeteria of the hospital after hours to celebrate with you.

It didn’t go as planned. You were tired and didn’t feel like getting in your chair, Erik was still quite ill and Luiz and Erik went to the airport to pickup my sister, Fran and head to the IWK for a check up. And Mum got to the hospital but quickly felt unwell and left to go home again. It was a bit of a flop. I though it would be good for you to see everyone around you supporting you but I was wrong. After the meal, we all went up to your room for a little visit. You seemed rallied with this.

We played the ‘TableTopics Family edition’ game. One of the questions was: “Would you stand by a friend who was disabled?” This question got your immediate attention. Rather then answering right away like you did with the other questions, you demanded Tara, Quinn and Martha’s answers. You should have know what they would have said – but I guess you needed to hear it.

The phone rings while we are visiting, It’s Fran. They are back from Halifax and discovered that Erik has both eardrums ruptured and has been started on antibiotics. He is grounded and can’t fly home as planned on Saturday. He and Fran will stay until the antibiotics start to work. You feel very sorry for poor Erik.

You want me to stay the night with you. I reluctantly agree. Last weekend I did something to my back (That’s right Emma – you can say – I told you to take it easy). The idea of toughing it out in a hospital chair over night worries me. After I get children settled, I return to the hospital. You are fast asleep. The night nurse took pity on me and found a cot for me to sleep on.


  1. Please don't think of yourself being selfish in the need for ME time. I am sure Chris from the sounds of him, would never think that and also as the saying goes, put on your O2 before you care for anyone else.
    He is making great strides!

  2. Gwen,

    Ask yourself whether "selfish" is really a helpful word. You are carrying a lot right now - Chris, your children, your household duties, your business, along with the thousand daily cares we all shoulder. Your health and well-being - both physical and mental - is critical right now. Taking time for yourself is balanced and healthy. Don't add guilt to your mental plate by thinking of it as being selfish!

    Love, Kate

  3. i'm glad to see my fellow blog followers rushing to your defense. they are, of course, correct. don't beat yourself up gwen. as i have said before ... chris needs you to look after yourself. to be there when he comes home. you can only do this by managing your own health and well being ... as well as that of the children and your home. chris IS getting better ... and you need to stay well.
    you are not being selfish. you are being careful. be well and take care ...

  4. Hi Gwen, maybe it's time that we get Chris & Alex together again. Alex's eye problem was with his optic nerve too and although it took 5.5 years of hard work, Alex now has vision in an eye that was "blind". Perhaps they could commiserate on the eyesight and Alex could cheer Chris on!!