There was no emergency calls over-night. After a good night’s sleep, I was thinking about how we could best use the time you have left in Truro. I came up with a short list.
The first is get your PEG tube out. This is already on the hospital’s to do list. They had thought that maybe it would be done this past week. So hopefully it will be done soon. This represents the last extra body part or tube in your body.
You have gained back so much in the past months. It seems like a lifetime ago that you couldn’t even regulate your own body temperature and blood sodium levels. Now you can do that and many more things. Although the list of things you need to work on seems big now, it was a very long list before. It’s getting shorter all the time.
You have maintained your weight well since the night feedings via the tube have finished. Now the tube is just maintained by flushing it a few times a day. The exit wound for the tube is a little inflamed. Your body doesn’t want it any more.
I wish I could say the same about my weight. Either there is more gravity around me lately or someone is messing with my pants. My ‘fat pants’ are tight. I don’t feel very good about myself. I know that the combination of Christmas and food and stress and more food has taken its toll. I need to get more exercise back into my life. Climbing the stairs to the fourth floor two to four times a day doesn’t really help me.
The second goal is to learn how to use the calling card. You have mastered making local calls. You even remember how to get an outside line first. Long distance calls are more difficult. You have to get an outside line, then call the calling card number then press1 for english and then enter in the PIN followed by the phone number. I found this undertaking a little challenging the first few times myself. I want you to able to call home or anywhere easily once you are the NSRC. I worry that you will feel socially isolated in Halifax by yourself. I know that you will be kept busy during the day but typically it’s the evenings that you find difficult.
You need to learn to tolerant the wheel chair for longer time periods. We were doing well at home over the holidays with you in the chair 3-4 times a day for 1-2 hours each time. Now that you are back in the hospital, you are in your bed much more. The nursing staff is not as encouraging as I am to get you in your chair. They don’t nag like a wife does.
The last thing is to work on getting you to transfer from wheel chair to the car and from the car to the wheel chair. This would make trips home from Halifax for the weekend much easily to achieve. No wheelchair bus needed. I don’t know if this is possible. I will ask the physio team next week.
I called the MacQuarries Pharmasave the other day, where I rented the lift, and booked the lift for next weekend. You have two weekends home for sure. I want to make the most of them.
This morning Marianne was in to visit you. She has been such a great help. Right from the beginning, That horrible Sunday evening, she has been there to hold the children and me, visit you and do whatever she can to lighten the load. Now, she is going to help more. When I told about my work schedule, my on call hours and how they are going to make child care a challenge, she said that she would be ‘on call’ for me in case I have a middle of the night animal emergency that I must tend too.
We are so lucky to have so many human angels in our lives.
Your roommate could not have been better chosen. The two of you are cut from the same cloth. The two of you banter back and forth, passing the hours and days away with all sorts of topics. Until today, I was mostly privy to the body function talks but it turns out that you talk about a lot more then that. Your roommate spouts out knowledge about all sorts of things. He knows a little about a lot. I don’t think his stroke has affected his memory at all.
Some of today’s topics included the difference between ravens and crows, Saint Paul contribution to the King James Bible, the historical meaning of ‘Good King Wenceslas’, Glooscap and the Mi’kmaq people and Prince Henry Sinclair journey to Nova Scotia.
The two of you share some favorite movies, The Great Escape and the Magnificent Seven. We even found time to talk about politics and homeless shelters and the origin of the word pad for a place to stay.
I can’t wait for tomorrow’s talks. Like you, your roommate had a stroke that affects his left side. He has already been to rehab but there was little more that they can do. He will be going to live with one of his daughters next week. You will be sorry to see him go. You are developing a special friendship with him, much like the friendship you have with Donald.
We talk about your goals. Short term and long term. You want to be realistic but you don’t want to lose hope. It’s too early for losing hope. It’s possible that you may not be able to return to a physical job. Your mind is still active and very capable. “Maybe I’ll go back to school” You say. “I want to help people.”
“I’m stubborn and greedy and that might help me. When I get out of rehab and I’m allowed to run, I might be so caught up in the dream of being 45, having a stroke where I almost died ... I don’t think I’m going to be so concerned about colds and stuff. I really don’t ... I will definitely eat healthy too.”
You are taking this second chance seriously.
Your resolutions for 2010 and the years to come. Get in shape and be strong. Help people. I want to give people the heads up before anything even happens to them like I’ve joked a bit by saying ‘If someone offers you a stroke – don’t accept it.’ But I want to help people.”
“I want to read up on strokes and learn more about strokes.” I tell you that I could find some books about strokes that you could read. It would be a good exercise for you. “Yah, but I don’t like too much hidden writing to the left. It’s too hard to open books that far. Maybe some internet articles on running and stroke prevention.”
Over the last few months you have been much more of a talker and you are very willing to share your feelings. I share with you my observation. I tell you how I missed our walks that we would do with the dogs before the children were born. You reply in a fatherly way, that when you get home “we are going to have family walks, every night.” “I want them to have a happy positive experience.”
“Tara and Quinn have great potential” You feel you didn’t reach your full potential. “I have a life time of friends. They will give me strength.” After a little reflection you observe that “As we speak - new nerves are growing. There are new synapses.”
I am definitely falling further in love with you. Everything you say is music to my ears. You are strong and supportive when I need you to be yet still fragile and evolving. I want to fall headfirst with complete abandon but I am guarding my feelings a little. What if the person I see now continues to change into someone I don’t know as well?
As I leave, you say to me “Remember - Chris loves Gwen. Repeat it to yourself later today and keep saying it.” I love the words. I tell you that we should crave it into a tree somewhere, to which you reply “Not a tree, a rock … it lasts longer.”
Quinn had a good sleepover. He was a little homesick just before he went to sleep but he did it and he feels little more grown up today. He is a little more worldly. He is pretty proud of himself. As he gains his independence, you regain yours – a little every day.
Tonight, we had a small family birthday party for Maddie. She opens each present like a professional. The children and Bill had wrapped our present. There were many layers of newspaper under the gift wrap paper. She efficiently got to the prize. Farley’s present to Maddie was his first laugh.