Last night, you called home for the first by yourself. You used the phone. Although this is a simple feat for most of us, the idea of dialing a phone had eluded. But like the TV, if you are motivated, you will re-learn. You remembered how to get an outside line and you called home! It was so good to hear your voice. This is another level of independence gained back.
Today while I was at work, you called again! Cecelia, came running back to the treatment room and said in a cute school girl way “Your husband is on the phone!” I felt transformed, for a minute. I felt like I was 15 years old and a girlfriend had just told me my ‘boyfriend’ is on the phone and it was the first call from a boy I liked at school. It felt great!
You asked when could I get in to see you and I said after work. You were a little upset. You had a restless night. Over the past few weeks, I have seen a pattern. A restless night brings with it more emotional days. You need me. I said I’d be right in after work.
Joye heard the worry in my voice. A little later in the day, she suggested that since it wasn’t that busy, some of my appointments could be handled by Melissa and I could get off sooner! She had it all arranged to get me out of there and in to your arms. I am so blessed to work with such amazing people.
So after walking Annie home, I went to the hospital. I held you and we cried together.
A little later, Megan came to visit. You are pleased to see her. Physio came shortly after. They got you into a sitting position at the side of the bed. Then raised the bed so that you are half sitting and half leaning against the side of the bed. This is as close to standing as you could be. From this position, the physio and OT team got you to use your electric razor. This, you can do slowly. Sometimes you noticed that you were listing to the right and correct yourself and other times you had to be reminded that you are getting off balance. This is a great exercise for you because it gets you to focus on the task of shaving, not on the goal of re-learning your posture.
Just seeing you almost standing and shaving yourself fills me with hope and pride in your progress. This is my mental picture of progress for the week.
The physio team gets you to straighten you back. “Look at his T spine extension!” they said excitedly. You beam with pride at the comment and suggest “I can practice it all day long.” Megan noted “This is coming from a man who utterly refused to sit in his chair last week!” You jokingly express a concern that the physio team is so impressed with you today that they will ambush you at the interview next week just so they can keep you in Truro with them.
Who would have thought that the silver lining to nearly dying is that you will gain a full inch in height because you have better posture with your newly found skill: T-spine extension.
You got a letter from the MSI to renew your health card today. At the bottom of the renewal form, is the section relating to organ donation. I remind you that this act of generosity brought you back to us. You signed it without hesitation. The form asks if there are certain organs that you wish to donate or just donate the whole body. “It’s all or nothing” you said.
You have a few weeping moments after Megan leaves. Between sobs you start to list the members to the ‘People who have seen you cry and held you hand’ club. The list is growing but the strength you get from each of these experiences helps you get stronger. You are reminded that there are many people who are here to help you and the gratitude give you strength.
Tonight, I went out to dinner with Terry and Chris G., they were some my first responders on that horrible night when I thought you were dying. Terry had a car accident several years ago, she described the scene and the terror she felt. She said she would never forget the eyes or the name of her first responder. I understand how the memories of such a vivid moment are wired into your brain permanently. The heighten emotions of the moment made it non-erasable.
I reminded them that the last time I had sat down at a table with them was that night. The night of your stroke. That night, I was drowning and I didn’t knew what to do. I didn’t know where to reach for help. They were there. They held my hands and they held me and lead me onto my path of recovery.
We talk about you and your road to recovery. I even relaxed enough to have a glass of wine. In some ways, I feel I have found my pace in this marathon and I can feel strong now. I am learning to empathize with your pain and loss and not let it consume me. If I am consumed, I can’t be a pillar for you.
As we are served our dinner, I notice that a salad dressing container had the number 29 on it. A few months ago I would have thought that that was a sign, now I think of it as a coincidence. In those early days, my desperate mind looked for signs. I looked every where and found many … but what did they really mean. One vivid sunny day I was driving back home alone after a visit with you, I think it was during the MRSA scare.
As I drove down North street, barely holding it together, I spotted a pedristarin stop suddely and back track a few steps to try to befriend a black and white cat. A minute later, I pass a male runner running over the bridge along with two children, who looked a little older then Tara and Quinn. Another sign. As the car entered the bridge the traffic was routed into one lane. The reason became apparent when I crested the bridge’s middle. There were police cars blocking the lane and clinging to the outside of the fencing of the bridge was a person. It was a slow-motion moment in my mind but I my mind identified the person as a jumper. Someone, who wanted to die. Was this a sign too? I cried all the way home.
Today I am hard wiring the picture I have of you in my mind, almost standing, shaving and joking around. This will be a non- erasable file. And for now, this will be my mind’s screen saver. It is my new sign.