Monday, November 9, 2009

Sunday November 8 - Gained a Little Insight

I have been noticing that Tara is quite reserved when we visit. She always makes sure she has something to do … it might be a book or her ukulele or paper and pen to draw or write. She has to have something to do. I had thought that Tara was just plain resilient – she’s a teflon kid – nothing seems to stick to her emotionally. I’m starting to think differently now – I wonder if some of her holding back emotionally has been a protective thing for her.

She has always been good at protecting herself perhaps this is a different way of protecting herself. After all, you are her idol. I can’t begin to count the number of times I have heard to phrase “That’s not what Daddy says/does/thinks.” I heard this plenty of times before your stroke, now after your stroke it makes a daily appearance. Tara seems to feel the need to fill in for you when it comes to deciding on the little things.

Perhaps she just hasn’t got used seeing her hero look so vulnerable.

Tara starts every day enthusiastic and full of energy. Tara’s enthusiasm seems to fade once we get to the hospital. She keeps her distance from you. She will still talk to you, but only if I try to include her into the conversation and she will kiss you goodbye if I ask her to do it.

Tuesday is an in-service day and Wednesday is Remembrance Day – we have a weekend in the middle of the week. I think that I will try to find some games that you can play with the children to try to create a little interaction that is not too taxing on you but stimulating for the kids.

Steve called this morning to get an update on you and the family. For the first time, I opened up my ‘closet’ of worries about Tara. I have always found that if I talk out my worries then the solution will find a way into my mind. My talk with Steve was no exception.

We get to the hospital late morning with a picnic lunch in tow. You are quite anxious about being alone in the morning. You had a bad morning because I was late. Your mornings pass very slowly and you have feels of abandonment and loneliness.

The children and I eat the picnic lunch, while you eat your hospital food - which looks really good but you wouldn’t eat much. You just don’t have much of an appetite. Cindy the dietician wants you to gain weight – you won’t at this rate.

After lunch, we get you in the wheel chair and go outside in the fresh air. Annie was waiting patiently in the car to see you. You were worried that she would have forgotten you. She didn’t - Annie know exactly who you were – no shyness at all – it’s as if you parted ways only yesterday. She enjoys ear rubs and retrieves the rawhide bone for you. You said “It’s too bad she can’t come and sleep with me and keep me company in the hospital.”

As we play with Annie, Karen and Hollis arrive to visit. Hollis really made an impression on you. “What a nice guy – I remember him from the post office.” You spoke of Hollis a few more times throughout the day – I think he is your newest mentor. Karen was bubbling with enthusiasm over your recovery to date. Her words must have made you feel pretty good because you said “I think we should get you on speed dial.”

The more you hear how well you are doing – the more likely you are to believe it.

Quinn has been writing a story, in french, all weekend – he is on page 10 now – he proudly reads you some and makes you guess how long it’s going to be. “It’s going to be 29 pages” He announces grining. He knows that 29 is a magic number.

Joyce and Win, from the church, visit you. They have been married of 64 years and known each other for 68. They have seen a lot of life. “This is a trial run.” Win says to us. “It’s a trial run that will test you.” This is so true. This experience has tested both of us. We are being tested and “We are passing” – as you would say. We will graduate to the “Second Chance Club”.

After Win and Joyce left, we talked about the “Second Chance Club”. “I’ll bet there are a lot of members.” I said. There are people who were given second chances for many things. Gaining membership into the club is the easy part – it’s the staying in the club that is the hard part. To stay in the club – one has to “make a positive difference in someone else’s life.” You added.

Some how we will find our way to that point.

Wayne arrives with Maddie. The children go with him and take Annie to go and play at Wayne and Juanita’s home. Annie will have fun with their dog, Charlie. I stay and hang out with you.

I suggested we call Ottawa but you don’t feel like talking on the phone. Instead, you watch football while I work on the computer and read – it’s almost like our normal life before the stroke ... but not quite. There is a sense of peace and understanding between us that I haven’t felt for a long time.

During the football game, John H called from Ottawa. He last saw you when you were in the intermediate care unit. He will see a big improvement since then. You were his best man many years ago. You ask him “You aren’t going to get a new best man are you?” In today’s world, brides come and go but a best man is forever.

We talk about the future – it feels good to do a little life planning with you. “Let’s buy some property in Cape Breton.” I like the idea but I say “I’ll wait until you are home and can help build us a home.” We talk about traveling “Where do you want to go of a family vacation?” You ask. “UK and Ireland.” I reply, wanting our children to find some roots of their own in the geography of these lands.

We cuddle. How much I missed this activity. Even before the stroke – life was busy – we both forgot to take time out for the finer things in life like sitting together and cuddling. “I think I appreciate life better now, I want to do more family things now.” I smile at the thought.

We may have lost a few things (you lost more then I have) and yet, we have also gained some things too – We gained a little insight into life and it’s true purpose.

I climb into bed with you. It’s a tight fit. I read you some more email messages. Marsha visits. “What’s this? Bedtime stories in bed?” I suddenly realize how crazy it must look – to have two adults crammed into a hospital bed.

Marsha and Marianne have started to run a little. “I jog really” Marsha says. In my dictionary – jogging is just another way to run. Marsha is a morning person. On the days she doesn’t work in Halifax, she will come in the mornings and have morning coffee with you. This might help break up the long days.

As I settle the children into bed, after navigating around all their stalling tactics, they try to picture how you are going to come home. Tara wants to build ramps everywhere and Quinn is worried about where you would sleep. “Hopefully, Daddy will sleep in the big bed and then we will have to kick you out to your bed – do you think that will be alright? Can you sleep in your bed if Daddy comes home?” I ask. “Oh Yes, I can do that.” Quinn grins.


Chris needs visitors to keep him up. The past few days have been hard for him when he is alone. He is scared and feels abandoned and helpless. Time reference holds nothing for him - he is lost if it's 5 min or 5 hours - this is especially true in the mornings.

Because he is in a private room - he can have visitors pretty much anytime - Tomorrow - I will ask if there is a time that best to have no visitors. currently the physio team gwet to him late morning or early afternoon. - there is no pattern. so the mornings are quite long - because often he is up at 5 AM.

Mornings are the hardest for me to get to him - between work and children and school - there is no time to go to him in the mornings except on Tues and Thurs after the children are off to school.

He is unable to read - so you can read the newspaper or a book or get well cards - (he has only been read the ones on the wall - not the ones in the green Sobey's bag in his room). There is also a trivial pursuit game in his room that will help pass the time (he is worried that he has forgotten trivial things (but he hasn't), and hopefully, eventually, he will be able to play cards.
I am hoping to find people who can visit for a while in the mornings and have a cup of coffee or something and help pass the time. If I had a list of several people and what day is best to visit then they could rotate the mornings or other times in the day. I believe that this would really help his motivation for recovery.


  1. I wonder if an hourglass or some sort of colour-clock would help Chris identify the passage of time? Not that it's a substitute for visitors of course, but it might help him achieve some independence in that area?

  2. Gwen,

    Your local library should also have a ton of books on CD and audio tape, if Chris is missing reading. Not sure, but they might be available as MP3 as well. Halifax Library offers downloadable MP3 books (download from home) - and you can get a Halifax Library card for free.


  3. Hi Gwen. I can visit Chris on Wednesday mornings and/or on some Friday mornings. Tomorrow is a holiday so I know you'll be able to be there and this Friday I'll be in yarmouth. However, starting next week, I will gladly plan to be there on Wednesday mornings for an hour, if that would be good. I'd plan to go early - like 8:30 or 9:00. Would that time work? I can go tomorrow too - but I would think you'll be there tomorrow. You can let me know!

    Janine (

  4. I can keep Chris company Mondays after I drop the kids off at school around 8am. Laura