Monday, January 11, 2010

Sunday January 10 – An Inspirational Runner.

You talk today about your dreams for the future. You know you are not a fast runner. You want to be an inspirational runner. That’s your story. If you can finish this marathon, then you will be an inspirational runner. That may be how you pay it forward.

You want to finish your workshop. Insulate and drywall and organize it. You recognize that you may need help. “I can’t hammer a nail right now, I need my left hand but maybe after rehab, I can hold a nail.”

There are only two things you want from rehab. To run and to use your left arm. That’s your complete list. If you can accomplish these goals, you will be whole again. You know it will take years to ‘fine tune’ your skills, that’s OK. You will be patient.

You try to imagine what rehab is like. As I understand it, rehab’s goal is to try to restore function back to the point where you are able to look after yourself. To quote the website for the NSRC they identify and enhance each person’s abilities. Their goal is to restore every patient to a life that is as full and rewarding as possible.

Today, you had an epiphany. You had a left-hand memory. You remembered that you used your left hand to hold a chisel. I think that this is a huge breakthrough. You have just tapped into a physical memory of holding the chisel. As you describe it to me, you make noises like the whirl of the lathe. “I would run the chisel along the thumb and my hand was right up against the rest. The metal part would go over my thumb.

Tapping into the memory of using your hand is a huge step forward.

I give your legs a massage. The sensation of the massage is distinctly different between the left and the right. Compared to the normal leg the sensory information from the left seems exaggerated. A tap feels like a hit and a rub feels like an abrasion. Neither feel painful. The feeling is just not like the feeling that you have on the right side.

“There are a lot memories of here that weren’t great. I will be so happy to be out. I will look at everything differently. Every inch of every place that I’ve ever known.”

You have started to remember little snippets of time while at the QE2. When Steve came to visit, it was a hot day and we went outside in the sun. You remember hearing talk about it being warm for late October. I hope most of your memories are suppressed. After seeing the pain that you have now that you can communicate it, I think you had a lot of pain before at the QE2. That was when I argued with the resident that Tylenol 3 as needed was a stupid order. How were you suppose to request a need for pain management when you could barely talk.

You will see things in a new light. You will look at things like you have seen them for the first time. You may even have to study them to know what it is. In the book, ‘My Stroke of Insight’, Jill Taylor talked about being unsure if she could stand on grass or walk on cracks in the pavement. I don’t think that you will have this sense of rediscovery, but after everything you have been through, your world will seem a little foreign to you.

You are looking forward to making tons of friends, lots of hugs – two arm hugs.

Your running streak has stopped, but you keep an eye on the days since your stroke … I have been writing the days on the white board in your room. ‘Day 133’ is written on the board. This is your new streak. Now you have started an unofficial BM streak. “I’m 13 for 13.” You are pleased to report. I didn’t have the heart to correct you and that you are actually eleven BM’s in eleven days.

You have another streak that is very important to you, a streak that predates the running streak. This is a streak that you have every right to be proud of. I am proud of you. It is 4316 days. This is a streak that only you should share with people. I hope that some day you do.

The children have a busy weekend. Today, Quinn is off to a birthday party. And Tara is going skating with Marsha and Doug. Quinn is really getting the knack of telling time with the watch that Santa put in his stocking. I told him that when I write my letter of compliant about the Nintendo DS, I would start the letter nicely and tell Santa that I thought he did a good job with the watch. He is getting quite skilled at calculating how late we are going to be for things and equally skilled at telling me when I am late. He certainly is your son.

It seems the Nintendo obsession has slowed down. I know he still thinks about it every day, but he doesn’t play it every day or even ask to play it every day. He is learning self-control. Maybe Santa did know what he was doing.
The skating with Marsha was OK, according to Tara. She didn’t know any other kids there. I think she missed Quinn. He is more socially outgoing then Tara in that type of situation. She maybe the big sister, but her confidence is higher when she has her little brother by her side.

While the children are doing their activities, and you are napping after lunch, Annie and I go for a walk in the woods. At this time of year, the woods are wonderful. The snow does a magical thing to the woods. New trails expose themselves. Animal trails. The thin layer of snow reveals the trails and the footprints (both hoof and paw) help identify the trails used the most. Some trails are like highways in the woods. Annie loves finding new trails.

There are new paths that lead to new places. There are also new paths that lead to old places but by a different route. I couldn’t help but think about the new neuro-pathways that you are making. New paths to old places.

As we walk in the woods, I think about the very busy lives that we are giving our children. I often wonder if they are too busy. Are we doing the right thing? I am getting worn down trying to keep up to their pace. We certainly are giving them a lot of memories and skills. Memories and skills that will serve as a foundation for new life experiences as they continue to grow.

Since I have spent a lot of time with older people recently, between the patients in your hospital wing and the Mira where Dad lived, I realized that the childhood memories are revisited later in life. I guess the children will have a great place to visit during their second childhood. There will be no need for re-runs.

After our walk in the woods, Annie and I met up with Tara and we went to visit Donald. You had given me with a topic list. Things to talk about with Donald. You want to suggest things that would interest him and yet not worry him. Armed with your list, Tara, Annie and I enter his room. He was asleep. I woke him gently. A big smile spread over his face when he focused on me. He asked after you, when I answered, he didn’t hear. His hearing aid was lost. We looked for it but to no avail. Your carefully planned topic list was not needed. I mimed and shouted out answers to his questions. He didn’t let frustration get to him, he just smiled graciously and said that we would have to talk amongst ourselves.

Annie really likes Donald. She is generally nervous of new people. But never children or older people. She seems most anxious with adults between puberty and menopause. Annie and Donald have a long talk while she gets her ears rubbed. Who needs hearing aids anyway?

After we pick Quinn up from the party, we come and visit you. I was worn out. I fell asleep in a chair in your room while you visited with the children. Afterwards, I dropped the children off at Juanita and Wayne’s house for supper and one more sleepover. I am really tired now and I’m on-call again tonight. I went to bed early, in case I got called in to work.

It was a quiet night, I got a good night’s sleep. I dreamt about you working on your lathe… with both hands.

1 comment:

  1. You may find it interesting to read Buddhism-influenced review of My Stroke of Insight by Dr Jill Bolte Taylor