Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Monday December 7 - Positive Internal Dialogues

This morning, I stopped by the hospital before work. I was worried about you from last night. You seemed so fragile. You are better today. Martha had called you last night. After she pumped me up, she called you. You two talked for a while. It was a good talk. You said “I’m glad I choose Martha to be my best friend.” I guess Rod doesn’t measure up to Martha! “She is a good choice for me… She’s a really good friend.”

Martha talked to you about the role of imaginary in sports and how it could help you in your recovery. Elite athletes use imaginary a lot to perfect their performance. Imaginary is not about training the body – it’s about training the brain. This is where it all starts.

As a result of your talk with Martha, you had a good sleep and you are much more positive this morning. I didn’t have as good a sleep. My mind kept wrestling with your emotional demons. When Martha asked me last night, how I was doing, I had to answer that my emotions flux with yours. I have no more control over my feelings then you have over your feelings. It is very frustrating.

You ask about the children. “They are off to school but this morning they talked about you and how they think you will get home for Christmas. They believe in you. They have from the beginning.” I said.
“If I could just improve on what I’ve got and I definitely want to improve.” You said the children build you up by saying you can handle it. “They really give me a boost. I hope I don’t melt down.”

These are the positive internal dialogues that you must have engraved into you mind. It almost seems like the stroke wiped out that part of you. As a result your will is damaged.

As a child, I had a lot of conversations with myself. Confidence boosting conversations. Sometimes the dialogue was so real the actual words would come out of my mouth. At the time, I thought I was a rather weird child but now I think I was just teaching myself how to be confident using positive affirmations. As an adult, I realize that this is probably a common place practice. At least I think it should be a common practice.

I think that you learn best by seeing or hearing and doing. If you hear enough positive dialogues, you will internalize them to be your own. This is the only way, that I know of, to help you believe in yourself again.

To gain a little insight, I ask, “How do you pep talk yourself through the really tough runs, where your body was giving up but your mind won’t?”
“I run, very much on the will of how I feel. If I’m at a race that I think is tough, I have the thought process that if anyone wants to pass me, go ahead – I won’t get in the way. But when I have just a few hundred meters left, I will try to run as hard as I can and try to hold onto my spot.”

I try to imagine how I can incorporate your think style into a motivational thought for you on this special marathon. I wonder if the part about letting runners pass you is a metaphor of the emotional lows that you are having right now. Maybe that is the way to think of these passing profoundly sad moments. They are runners who are passing you and you should just let them go by you. You can’t outrun them all.

For most runners, the challenge of a marathon is to conquer the distance, not beat other runners. The 42.2 kilometers is your opponent not the other people running. In this marathon your emotions are fellow runners. You must run with your emotions not against them. You don’t compete with them – you run with them. Some are good running companions and some are not. If you come across someone on the course who gives off negative energy, you avoid them you don’t race them. In this marathon, the ‘distance’ is the time and energy that you put into healing. It’s a marathon of days, weeks and months not kilometers.

Laura comes to visit. She brings coffee just the way you like it. She runs also and understands the mindset of a runner. She is also a very good rug hooker. You call her the ‘hooker’. She has designed a special rug for you that she wants to do. It is centered on the theme of your Addiction to Life Marathon. You are rather excited about the project.

After work, I come back to the hospital. You ask to play a game of cribbage. This is a game I taught you when we first met. When I found out that your favorite number was 29, I knew this would be a game you’d like. You caught on quickly and surpassed my cribbage skills. When we first moved to Truro we would go to cribbage night at the Liberal headquarters in Onslow. You played like the seasoned players. You could size up a hand in about 5 seconds. The games were very fast paced – I could hardly keep up.

Today, holding the cards is a challenge and seeing to score the points is difficult for you but you persevere.

The social worker pops in to see you. You tell her that you are “going into the crying Olympics…. I am a gold contender.” She thinks that crying is a natural response to everything that you have gone through. You said that you are sad about your future and
How you are doing and how much more you have to do and you are failing.

We talk about the tele-health interview tomorrow. You share your worries that you didn’t score high enough to get into rehab. The social worker corrects you. You did score high enough and the meeting tomorrow is to help place you in the waiting list. “The NSRC won’t likely take you until after Christmas.” She said. “We should meet with the physio team and see what we can do about getting you home for the holidays.” We discuss how we can make it work. We can rent a bed and a commode and set them up in the family room. Life can revolve around you in the family room. We can even have ‘picnic’ Christmas meals in the family room.

The social worker points out that the sadness you are experiencing is a positive sign, “The fact that you can see that the enormity of what has happened to you and the road ahead of you suggests that you are thinking ahead. You have been able to grieve the losses that you have before now. You have to grieve for them before you can try to get them back.”

Erin comes to visit, She is going back to England tomorrow. You are excited at the prospect of being able to visit Donald (Erin’s Father and one of your best friends) at Cedarstone. We discuss the many ways that we can transport you from the hospital to a car and from the car to a chair etc. The idea of a change of scenery is very attractive.

I head out for the grade primary to grade two concert for the school. This is the first of four Christmas shows the children are in. I videotape it so you can feel the experience. I know it kills you to miss these events.

I tried to call after the children are in bed, but the switchboard at the hospital didn’t pickup the phone. Thankfully, you called back. You are having a difficult evening. Once again, you were separated from your call button and feel abandoned and frustrated. I think that some time at home at Christmas can be an important part of your healing. You are getting tired of the hospital. A vacation at home could be just what you need at this time.

To help you to see the positive again, I read to you an email we had received this morning from a friend, Heather, from Ottawa. You talked to her this morning and she was touched by the conversation. In her email she says: “He really encouraged me with my running and I am grateful to him in more ways than he knows. The very fact that he is alive is the first amazing hurdle. The fact that he is having phone conversations and reaching out to encourage others is the second. He has such determination. I wanted to draw some type of parallel between me striving to do the Boston Marathon and him reaching the absolute best recovery. I want him to know that we ALL have that power within us and he especially is gifted with such a great, loving family and circle of friends along with a unique determination that very few other people possess.”

This seems to help. I think that you are tired and this time of day exposes your emotions more. I say “good night and sweet dreams. See you in the morning. We can have breakfast together.”

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