Friday, January 22, 2010

Saturday January 16 – The ‘Huggle’

I woke today with a bad dream. I haven’t had any bad dreams for a long time. In fact not since that first night when we were told there was no hope. Most of my dreams I don’t remember but I am just left with an overall sense of peace. This morning, I didn’t feel at peace or rested. I felt angry. Angry at myself and a little angry at you. I want to think that I have forgiven you for the smoking deception. I don’t know that I have yet.

I try to shake off the bad feelings. The little dog that I baby sat last night needed to go back to the animal hospital for further care. Everything this morning seemed to take a long time to do so we got away to Halifax later then I had planned. Fortunately, driving to the hospital is very simple now. The little Fit has an automatic pilot thing. The car just takes us there like a seasoned trail pony. I even got to use cruise control again.

The car ride was extremely quiet car because of the children’s electronic gadgets. Initially I welcomed it. The quiet allowed me to think out the hidden meaning in my dream. I want to tell you what I dreamt about and what I thought it meant. I think it could help you too. By the time we got to the airport, the silence was eerie. Not hearing the usual Tara and Quinn banter un-nerved me.

Peace and quiet is a good thing but not at the expense of having their minds eaten up by machines. For the rest of the ride they sing songs and they criticize me when I try to join in. Oddly, I like this past-time much better then peace and quiet.

You have had several waves of sadness, last night and this morning. You burst into tears at the sight of us. Our nurse told Tara that this was common after a stroke. I think change is difficult. The staff you have met are new to you and you feel out of place.

We talk about your pain and how you can manage it. Most of the time when the pain is more intense, it is because the limb is in a bad position. You can’t manipulate your arm or leg into a more comfortable position. You can’t even identify that your arm or leg is in an odd position. You just get to feel the result. This makes this type of pain difficult to manage but at least the pain doesn’t seem to be a random event that is contrived in your brain. Rather there seems to be an actual cause and effect.

“I’m hopeless, if this happens again or I have a heart attack, I don’t want to live. This is not my life plan. I don’t want to be a burden.” I give you a pep-talk. You have to have faith in the staff and that they know what they are doing. Then you realize what is really bothering you. “It is the loneliness that is the hardest.”

Your room has four beds in it. Two of your roommates have gone home for the weekend. The other roommate is from Cape Breton. He has been here for six weeks. He is able to walk now but couldn’t before. Occasionally he needs to brace himself. His hand is still weak. He doesn’t get to go home on weekends. It’s too far to travel. He says he finds the weekends are very long. I can see why. There is very little that goes on during the weekend. The fourth floor is an area to socialize, but there are only a handful of patients who frequent it on the weekend.

I can see that weekends will be hard for you too, until you are able to come home on a pass. I’m glad that you are here now and have the chance to settle into the routine before I go back to work fulltime next month. I’m worried about the last weekend in January when I’m on call again. I hope to arrange for other visitors for you then.
We check out the fourth floor and found a tunnel that goes from the basement, under University Ave, to the cafeteria in the VG. That’s where we have lunch. The recreational therapist (RT) showed us how to get there. Unfortunately, the doors only open one way on weekends so once you are on the VG side of the tunnel, you can’t get back to the NSRC side unless you have a special pass-key that only employees have. Thankfully, we had the RT with us today to show us the ropes.

You told the children of your addiction to cigarettes. They are both in disbelief. They ask lots of questions to help sort out how you pulled off the deception. You explained to them how bad it was to smoke. There is no safe number of cigarettes. You feel that smoking probably played a role in your stroke. It may not have been a big role but it could have been within your control.

By revealing this side of you to the children, it showed me that you are very serious about beating this addiction too. The children and I pledge to help you in every way that we can.

Quinn was the one who nailed it. He said today “Maybe Daddy is like me, he’s sad sometimes but he doesn’t know why he is sad, he is just sad. Maybe he needs to pull an ear lobe.” Immediately after this inspired insight, he climbed on your bed and hugged you. Touched by the scene, I put my arms around the two of you with Tara quick to follow. There we all were on your bed in a group huddle, or maybe we should call it a group ‘huggle’ with arms entwined and heads together, feeling the warmth and love.

As we part for the night you tell me that this is the hardest thing that you have ever done. You feel a little anti-climatic for the NSRC. You’ve been waiting for thirty-eight days and now you have to wait more. You have to wait the weekend. I tell you to have faith in the staff and most importantly, you must have faith in yourself. Once you see a little more connection form with your left side, your morale will soar. That might not happen for a while so in the meantime, you have to keep the faith.

You still don’t feel better. Now that you have told the children I can find forgiveness for you. As you tell other significant people in your life, my forgiveness will be complete. You have to forgive yourself to believe in yourself. We believe in you. This is your second chance to do it right. That is a gift from above. Don’t blow it.

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