Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tuesday December 15 - What Does Not Break You, Makes You Stronger.

You are down again today. It’s such a roller coaster. I can hardly keep up. I think that a lot of your malaise is to do with the fact that your bowels haven’t been regular. You are ‘bummed’ out.

The occupational therapist came over to see our house lay out. She wanted to see if there was anything that may pose as a problem or obstacle to you. You wanted her to see your man-cave because you have mentioned several times that you figured that you could slide down the stairs on your bum and crawl to your favorite chair and watch TV! This is a fantasy that, I’m sure, has fueled a little of your enthusiasm to come home. If you could sit in your chair and imagine for even just a minute, that the past four months have been all part of a bad dream, you would be a happy man.

I promised I’d show her the setup, feeling fairly confident that she would say this was a very bad idea. She did. “I can't recommend that you carry Chris down the stairs.” (this initially said 'can '- but I forgot to proof read this well last night - so I am correcting it now - She definitely said 'CAN'T' - and I'm glad she did.- sorry I should have proof read in the morning when I have a fresh mind!). “Of course, you must use your own judgment.” She added, saying there may be a little latitude without using words. When we discuss the house setup in your hospital room, you agree that safety is the first priority. I don’t think you interpreted any latitude in her advise and I didn’t bring it to you attention. Instead, I simply said “Let’s get through this weekend and see how things go before we think about other things to do in the house.

I am secretly glad that the OT said this because, I don’t want to see you isolated in your man cave. You need social interaction not isolation. If you can stay in your chair for longer periods, I can see carrying you down the stairs in your chair so you can explore you special world of treasures in your room. But this should be left for another time.

I plan to set up an air mattress beside your hospital bed and sleep beside you. So if you need something in the middle of the night, I’d be right there. I’m looking forward to that. We start planning things that we can do while you are home. The biggest item on the agenda is to organize little presents for some of the wonderful people who have touched our lives in these past months. We van transform the family room into a little Santa workshop.

You got you flu vaccines today. I am relieved that we don’t have to worry about that risk.

I head out to the Royal Canadian Legion. There, Chris F, set us up with a wheel chair and a commode. As an after thought, I asked if he would have a bedpan. He said he might. We went digging about in a well-organized storage room filled with many wheel chairs and walker and canes, even special comforty lift chairs. He found one and handed it to me while saying, “We don’t want that back.” I joked and said that maybe it could become a flowerpot to commemorate this chapter in your life. Maybe put a prayer plant in it. As we parted, he shook my hand and said “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Actually, I believe that the saying is: “What doesn’t break you makes you stronger.”
I remember the first time I heard that saying. It was the year before Tara was born. I was visiting my brother in Banff. I stayed at the hostel where he worked. I had a great time until the third to last day. Bill and I went to Lake Louise to ski. I had never skied in such powdery conditions before. As we climbed to the top of the mountain in the lift, I remember having a feeling that I never had before. The feeling of fear. Fear of getting hurt. Until then I had always had an invincible attitude about life. “Go of it” was my mantra. But that day I felt apprehension. I felt this before I even got off the lift. I made a deal with my self, that if I got down the mountain in one piece, I would stay on the lower slopes. “If I got down the mountain in one piece.” That was a new phrase to my mind. I decided that I was just being silly and over rode my fear and ‘went for it.’

Within five minutes from the top, I was in trouble. I fell and my legs did things that legs shouldn’t do. I heard a tear in my left knee. The pain was mind numbing.

It turns out that I really screwed my knee. The rest of the holiday in ski country was spent in self-pity. The next day at the café, I dined with a fellow hosteler. She was a older woman, maybe late sixties but still full of life and positive energy. She was visiting from Germany.

She dished out some much-appreciated sympathy and a long conversation took over. She had nursed both her husbands through serious chronic disease until their deaths, dealt with cancer twice herself as well as a few other family tragedies. Yet here she was in front of me oozing positive energy. “You must believe that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, how else can you get through all that an still see things and life as good” I said. “Actually, she said that is an old German saying and literally translated it is: What does not break you, makes you stronger. Break is a better word then kill don’t you think?”

I have thought a lot about that lady in the recent months. A stranger whose path meandered with mine and left a seed planted in my mind. Of course the statement isn't true. People are usually weakened, not strengthened, by repeated adversity. This is an affirmation. Affirmations start out being untrue. But repetition can make it a self-fulfilling prophecy. It may be self-deception or blind strength that is really at work but the outcome of such thinking tends to be positive. I think I have benefited from it.

Now I think about it. The whole ‘fall down the mountain’ thing was a blessing. When you picked me up at the airport. You went right into nurture mode. Making sure I was as comfortable as I could be. Tending to my every need. I was not used to being treated like that. During those months of recovery, I came to see another side of you that I had never allowed myself to see. This is mostly because, I was always the one that nurtured and tended to things. I think, that in my subconscious mind, I realized that if you could care for me so well, then you could care for our offspring too. Oddly enough within six months of my accident, we were pregnant.

What does not break you, makes you stronger … it really does.

Tonight was Christmas concert number four. We have on more next week then we are done the official Christmas events. Both Tara and Quinn sung. Tara played her ukulele too. It was a good time.

Tonight I am on-call. Julia and Melissa have covered so much on-call time over the past months, I want to give them a break when I can. With Fran in town, I can. She was going to stay with the children, but Neeson, age 13 and very mature, jumped at the chance to babysit! He is growing into a responsible young man. Tara and Quinn both like him and, I think, they may even listen to him.

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