This morning I called to see how your night was. You had just woken up but you had a good rest. I had been thinking about the meeting from yesterday. There were some points of care that I wanted to bring to Dr. Feltmate’s attention. I described them to you and you summarized them down to one word so that you could remember the details better. You repeated the three words over and over. It was like a chant. We talked briefly about something else and then went back to the list. “What were the three things?” I asked. “Gabapentin, barium and bladder.” You replied. Good, I thought, it looks like you will remember.
After walking the children to school, Annie and I walked to work. It was a busy morning. Lately, life at the animal hospital has taken a hit. With two maternity leaves and a third starting soon, one person with a broken leg, one person ill and off work for the rest of the month and one person scheduled for surgery anytime soon, we are feeling the affects of being short staffed. Thank goodness that H1N1 hasn’t hit the animal hospital because there would be no one to hold down the fort.
In the afternoon, we had a staff meeting to discuss staff scheduling and how we will manage the day to day and week to week tasks. As always, the very resourceful team that I work with come up with a plan to make things work. As part to the meeting an ‘intervention’ of sorts was put forward. They were concerned that I would be spreading myself too thin once you went to rehab. I had hoped that once you are in rehab, that I could work a five-day week and Tara, Quinn and I would reunite with you on the weekends. This is planned to start in February, which means that January will be a transition month where I can still spend Tuesdays and Thursdays with you in Halifax.
By February, I hope that you will be settled and sufficiently busy at the NSRC that you will not need me as much. We can still talk on the phone. The children and I give you moral support over the phone. This would avoid winter driving. Something that I’m not that thrilled with doing if I can help it.
The team I work with have been amazing. They have taken over the reins of the practice and have made things work without worrying me. Without them, I don’t think I would have a practice to come back to. The fact that this happened at this time point in my career has been a blessing. Juanita and I have strived to make the work place a good environment.. I think we have succeeded but the weird thing is, I don’t think we did it, the team did it. At best, we helped facilitate it.
I don’t feel that I work with co-workers, I feel like I work with a large family. I have a sisterhood of coworkers. It is a relationship where communication is good and there is a lot of love and respect. This is the result of a combined effort of everyone at the hospital and I feel blessed to be a small part of it. My ‘sisters’ are a big part of my emotional rock.
When I get to you after work, you tell me about a ‘breakthrough’ that you had this morning while having a shower. This was the first shower that you had since you have been in the hospital. It felt good, you said.
The breakthrough was about your legs. “I have two legs and they are both mine.” You said. This is a concept that has eluded you over the past several weeks. You still don’t understand how you could have two legs and yet not know you have two legs. The thought fascinates you and confuses you at the same time.
“The day I walk out of here and go to our home” you say, “I will be walking on sunshine. When I tell people about my life, I feel people like me and value what I’m saying. I feel close to people. I want to help people. I just want my everyday life back.”
“Can you see that you have a path now to get your everyday life back. The path is important to focus on for you right now. You need to focus on you until you are well so then you can help other.” I caution you.
I ask you if you remembered to ask Dr. Feltmate the three questions. You said you don’t remember seeing Dr. Feltmate – so much for the memory exercise. This is something we can work on.
I tell you about the staff meeting and the worries my coworkers have about me. You say
That you know that you will be on your own more and it will be difficult but in another way, you said you will feel like you are helping me too by doing it on your own and making progress. You will feel like you are contributing to the family’s future.
I picked up Tara from ballet. I missed the open house, when parents get to watch the progress of the class. She is disappointed. “Mummy, you said that you were going to try to keep things normal for us. This isn’t normal. You never get to watch me at gymnastics or ballet. I want my old life back.” We all want our old lives back, I thought but what do you say to a nine-year-old.
“Sweetie, someday we will get our lives as we knew them back. The family life might be a little different but it will still feel good. In the meantime, we have to keep strong and help each other to get through this. It’s going to be a while before we get our old lives back… but I think we will and I know that because Daddy wants to work hard at getting better.”
Jay, the minister from the church, visited you. You talk to him about your feeling that you want to help people. You said that after your stroke, you realized what is important in life and you want to share these insights with people in your life who you think could benefit from it. Jay cautions you to be careful not to over do this. You are still not well and whole yet, you need to fill yourself up with wellness before you can give out to others again.
You want to give to others. Maybe this is why you were returned to us. You have a lot to give to the people who need it
“How do you handle the depression?” you ask Jay. He said you have to ride it like a wild bronco, ride out the bumps and if you fall off, you pick yourself up and get back on.
After Jay leaves, you take the opportunity to talk to Tara about her desire to run. You are happy that she wants to run. But yesterday, Marianne had offered to take Tara for a run but Tara bailed out on her at the last moment. You ask Tara to make a commitment to running. If other people are going to make a commitment to Tara for running then, then you felt it was important for Tara to make a commitment too. Tara agrees and wants to go running again.
You seem pleased with your newly developed bedside parenting skills. So am I.