Sunday, January 24, 2010

Saturday January 23 – The First Week

The first week at the rehab has been a little disappointing for both of us. I feel that we have been patient for so long. We had thought that you would be busy most of the day with therapies. So far you’ve had 4 hours of physiotherapy and 4 hours of occupational therapy for the whole week. It doesn’t seem worth the sacrifice of having you away from home. I know that the treatments will increase and a large part of what was done this week was assessments and tests. I hope that this information will lead to busier life for you later.

The loneliness is very hard on you. You have met a few other ‘inmates’. The bond that brings you together is brain injury. Hardly the foundation for a life long relationship. However, I suppose that wonderful friendships have been built on much less. You just need to try. There is one common theme for the weekend patients. You all feel like inmates. If you can hear a random conversation between two patients, or family members of patients, the first information exchanged is “What are you in for?” and “How long?” It’s easy to see why you feel like an inmate.

Your reaction to the loneliness and boredom is to find an escape. The TV has always been your default when you were bored. Today you are pressing hard for more TV channels. I’m reluctant, TV allows you to emotionally withdraw from others. I’ve seen it happen before to you. Your focus must be to get better, not watching reruns on TV.

On the other hand, I know how escape can be helpful from time to time. Today I felt it. I have been low the last few days. I have had a sudden wave of tiredness. My tiredness is due to that stupid crystal ball. My mind keeps trying to race ahead to see what life will be like. When I do, I get tired. Tired of thinking about all the things that must be done and decisions that must be made in the future.

This type of thinking gets me into trouble and I have to stop it. I have been much better at focusing on the moment but I have lost my focus the last few days.

The children and I slept at Lenore’s apartment. It’s very conveniently located to the hospital. I brought food with us so there was minimal need to go outside. It’s ashame because it looked like a nice day.

You had a variety of visitors with whom you shared your guilty pleasure of smoking secret. You said each time that you felt stronger when you tell people. In some cases, I think that you are worried that your friends are going to think less of you for being a closet smoker. But they aren’t. They are supportive and kind and still love you. I think they walk away with a new level of respect for you after your confession.

You are your hardest critic. You have always said that you were my toughest critic, but I didn’t feel that way … except in the driving category. You have judged yourself as guilty and not a good person for so long that you don’t understand your friends and family’s reaction to your news. That doesn’t mean that you aren’t grateful for their love and support. You are grateful but you have a hard time understanding why.

You even doubt the children’s and my commitment to you. You asked the children today if they really want to spend the weekend in Halifax visiting you. Of course they said YES. Quinn states the obvious to your question why. “Cause you’re my Dad, Dad” You don’t have to be fun for them to love you. They just want you. You have asked me if I would take on another lover. I said NO, besides when would I find the time!

I think when you can see why people love you despite your weaknesses, you will see a way to believe in yourself and love yourself. I pray that this epiphany comes soon. It will help you at this point in your life.

You still have a level of depression that worries me. As we walked over to Tim Horton’s through the tunnel from the NSRC to the VG, you said that if you had to chose, you wold not want to go through this. I know this is just you talking about your feelings of the moment. I don’t think you really feel this way, but it still hard to hear you say this and there is nothing I can do or say that will change your mind. Only you can do this.

We watched a movie called ‘October Sky’ together on your bed tonight. Being in a low mood myself, I appreciated the escape that the movie provided. I seldom crave an escape. I liked my life and escapes weren’t usually needed. But it did feel good tonight to have an escape. I think I understand why the TV is so important to you now. You said it best: “If I can watch something for a few hours, it helps me to stop thinking of me.”

I am worried that TV could interfere with your recovery time at the NSRC. Deep down, I’m worried that TV is going to replace the cigarettes for an addiction. As it was before the stroke, you would plan your day and evening around what was on TV. I could understand the need to do this with sport events. But when you didn’t want to do something because there is a rerun of MASH or something on TV, it scared me.


  1. Gwen,

    For what it's worth, I don't think you're in a place of denial. It sounds to me as though the PT was giving her "best guess at this point, subject to revision as we learn more." That's hardly an absolute sentence.

    I know a woman in her late 60s who had a major stroke two years ago, and was told she would never walk again and possibly never see again. She sees well with glasses now, and walks (faster than me) with a couple of walking poles - about 1.5 km from her place to the store and back, every day. Crystals balls are not foolproof.

    It's scary to play "what if" - what if Chris doesn't run again, what if he becomes depressed, what if he becomes addicted to something else. Looking at those possibilities may help you prevent them, or mitigate the effects. But don't overfocus on those scary possibilities. Focus instead on staying flexible, encouraging Chris to be flexible, on seeing the positive possibilities. Don't get attached to one outcome, as the Buddhists would say.

    Look at what you as a couple have already come through and accomplished - physically, emotionally, spiritually... it's amazing! Running builds your muscles. This marathon is building your "mental muscles".

    Do you know what I've always admired about Chris? It's not his running. It's his affection for and openness to his children, and his sense of humour. As this journey continues, you may mourn the loss of some kinds of experience... maybe you won't climb Mt. Washington together. But you may gain other experiences that are just as deeply, heart-expandingly joyful as Chris and Quinn running together.

    Stay loose, mourn and feel sad when you need to, stay flexible, breathe, cherish joy when you find it in the precious present of everyday. We love you!


  2. You're quite right Kate - I was having a down day ... or two or three. I feel better now about the future and for no other reason then the tsunami wave of silly female hormones have passed over me and now I can function again - curse those hormones.

    Thanks for the pep talk! I needed that.