Tara slept in this morning – she’s tired. She stayed up an extra half hour doing extra homework that she asked for – math homework. She loves math. When I kissed her good night she was happily adding and subtracting 5 digit numbers from and to each other. Today she is sleepy. I let her sleep an extra 30 minutes. She had a headache but after some breakfast - she felt better and ventured off to school. She doesn’t want to miss a day of school. It is her normal.
Carpet cleaning was here. The house seems cleaner and smells good. While I wait for the guys to do the carpet, I do some cleaning and made some soup. Although domestic duties are generally not my favorite job – but I’m in a groove today.
You were in a good mood. Marsha had visited you this morning. You are pleased with yourself because you had a date with a commode chair this morning and it was fruitful! Using a commode chair is a first. You credit the combination of coffee, bran cereal and eating your veggies.
Uncle John and Shirley came to say good bye to you. They are heading back to England. As they leave, Shirley says “Keep strong” and Uncle John says “Stay strong” as he hugs me. This seems funny to me because, since your stroke day, the standard goodbye that I say to you, even when your brain was sleeping, is “Be Strong”.
There seems to be a family theme around the word - Strong.
Erik’s ears are better. Fran got an ER doctor to check his ears – they are better but he is still grounded until the end of the week. No flights home. Erik is not that disappointed. He likes school, but the idea of spending a week alone with his Mum is pretty attractive. This also gives Fran and Erik an opportunity to visit Dad some more.
Maddie is intrigued by you but still not willing to make contact. She comes very close but won’t touch you. You really want to connect with her. I spot a polished rock that a friend had given you. A beautiful amber irregular polished rock that would fit nicely in Maddie’s hand. I pick it up and show it to her – she reaches out and takes it from me.
She smiles, pleased with her new treasure. I ask for it back. She acts rather coy and slyly gives it back. Then I give it to you. Maddie looks a little reluctant but she decides that it’s worth the risk. She reaches out her hand and takes the rock from your hand.
We play pass the rock game … for about 10 minutes. Maddie is making friends with you because you have nice rocks.
After lunch, the physio gang comes. Kristin does some range of motion exercises. You are locating pain much better. Kristin lets you talk so that you are distracted and that lets her push the range of motion a little further.
You ask if Kristin would give you exercises to allow you to be more flexible. “If I’m going to run again, I’d like to be more flexible.” Kristin replies somewhat encouragingly, “I can find some things for you to do.” You are pleased, “maybe I can do them while I’m stuck in bed.”
They get you sitting by the side of the bed. You ask if you can try to do it a different way. “No” She says, “We want you to do it this way so you won’t relearn to do it the wrong way.”
I picture that every movement that I take for granted will have to be broken down into a sequence of small movements so that, if you do them in order, you can do a simple task – like get out of bed ... the right way. This process has to be repeated for all the little tasks that we do.
Dr. Wallin was right. You ARE like a baby – learning to do things all over again. I hope his second piece of advice is correct …. the learning is faster.
Some water spilt onto the hospital bed table – Kristin got you to wipe it up. This gives you a task to concentrate on while trying to maintain your sense of balance, using your core muscles, beside the bed.
You ask if you could practice some throwing some balls. Kristin seizes on this idea for distracting you while doing the sitting exercise. If you sit while throwing a ball, you will have to practice balancing with your core muscles and yet time might not tick by so slowly.
Once you are in your chair, You go for the longest wheel chair drive so far. To the end of the hall and back and then to the end of the east wing. Then you fade. I push you back to the room.
I read you the first chapter from the book Dr. Feltmate loaned us, ‘Locked In, Locked Out’. You are interested in the story about a doctor in NB who suffered a major brain bleed that affected his brain stem area.
I tell you about Tara’s morning and her fetish for homework. “Tara is going to be and over achiever.” You say. I nod agreeing. We wonder if that will be a good thing or a bad thing. “She going have to learn how to handle failure sometime” you said.
There is nothing wrong with your ability to parent intellectually.
“I know that technically, I’m a man, but I wonder if I will ever feel like a man again. Would Quinn ever come to me if he was scared?” I point out that although the physical interaction may be difficult, You can still give the children the emotional and intellectual support that they need.
You will have to redefine your role in our lives. You will still have an important role in our family that will be unique to you – it will just look a little different. And it may be only temporary until your recovery is complete.
I mention the idea of stem cell therapy again. You said you want Edwin’s stem cells. I say that while that’s flattering, you would reject his cells, you need your cells for it to work well. Since your brain bleed seems to be a freak of nature, there is a good chance that it won’t happen again. Your stem cells are the best cells.
“Yeah, I’m pretty good.” You say proudly. “Someone told me I was a miracle, and you say I’m a freak of nature. So, I guess that makes me a ‘Miracle of Nature’.”
I pick up the children and drop Tara off at the Good Neighbor Club for a rehearsal for tonight’s performance with DRUM at the Olympics Flame ceremony. I ask the kids to look for the building – I didn’t know where it was. Quinn spots it first – he has your sharp eyes.
As Tara leaves, she realizes that the special hat she must wear for the performance is in the van that Fran is driving. Quinn and I have to go hunting for the van so we can retrieve the hat.
Gosh – nothing is simple. We drive to Juanita’s – no van, to the hospital – no van. Finally, desperately, I drive to the Mira where Dad lives – Success - Quinn spots the van … and the hat. As I collect my thoughts and try to lower my blood pressure, I think philosophically, that this journey brought me here for a reason, even though I thought the reason was to find the missing hat, maybe the reason was to put me at Dad’s doorstep. I seize the moment.
I planned on visiting Dad, but I thought that I would wait until Fran, Erik, Uncle John and Shirley left. I would visit when he didn’t have so many visitors. But now, I’m there and I feel compelled to go for a quick visit.
As luck would have it, Fran and Dad are by the front door. Maddie is playing with a big bouncy ball. Dad seems in good form. Pleased with his latest ideas about getting better. He even recognizes me … I think.
It was a short visit. He got tired quickly and went to bed. I’m glad destiny brought us together … even if it was just for a short while.
Quinn and I go off to see the Olympic torch relay finish in the park and watch Tara’s choir sing. It’s a pretty upbeat performance with lots of hype.
Just before bed, we call you and the children say good night. Another ‘normal’ routine is back in our lives – the family good night ritual.