Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Sunday December 27 – Learning Limitations

It’s a sleep-in day. We are all starting to hibernate. The children too. You are very sore this morning. It’s probably from sleeping for so long in one position. You don’t remember any dreams. The sedative that is prescribed for you at night probably interferes with the ability to dream and remember your dreams. If the subconscious is as powerful as we think it is, harnessing the power of dreams may help you. But sleep is restorative and also important. I wonder where the happy medium exists.

I know that after a good night rest, I may not specifically remember my dreams, but they give me an overall sense of freedom from my worries. They often allow me to solve problems in my sleep. Things always seem clearer in the morning. Sleeps with dreams may help you too.

We are very slow to get going until the phone rings. It’s Juanita, our Dad had a bad night. Pain medication was given every two hours. His breathing has changed. This usually precedes death.

As I get you up and ready for the day, Bill you and I talk about the role that Dad played in your lives. Just as I got things organized before leaving you with Bill and the children, Juanita calls back. Dad had just died.

It was a relief in many ways. The slow mental decline was hard to witness over the past couple of years. The fast physical decline with pain was even harder to watch.

I wanted to go and comfort Juanita and Fran, Neeson and Erik at the Mira. Tara wanted to come too. She wants to say goodbye to her Grandad. I didn’t think she should go, I thought that Tara wouldn’t want to see her Grandfather that way, but you said that she should go because I’d be there with her to support her.

When we get there, Dad is still in his bed, where I saw him yesterday. The room is quiet. Juanita and our stepmother, Arlene, were there. Tara tears up with sadness. She had only just gotten to know her Grandad in the recent years since he moved back to Truro. As I hold and comfort her. Fran and the boys come in the say goodbye.

We were just at the point of starting to talk and share feelings when there was a phone call for me. It’s Bill. “Chris just fell out of his chair and hit his head!” I go right into panic mode. I didn’t even make a pit stop at common sense. “Hit his head” replayed in my mind. I asked for no details. I simply said I’d be there right away.

Fran jumped into action and forced me to be a passenger in the car. Tara came too. I’m afraid, my panic spread to her. Even though we got to the house in record time I still had time to imagine all sorts of horrible scenarios which included another brain bleed. Half our floor space is concrete. Human skull verses concrete, there is no doubt which would be more fragile. Your shoulder that is held together by skin mostly was also at risk of injury. Any damage to it could affect the soft tissue in the joint and have lasting effects.

When we got there you were sitting in your chair. You were clearly shook up over the incident. We were all crying. You were in the wheel chair in our dining room. Conscious, no bleeding … just scared.

Quinn had been with you when you needed to relieve yourself. You had got Quinn to fetch the ‘pee jug’ and rather then wait for Bill to help, you tried to adjust your clothing. In doing so, you braced your right hand against the wheel of the chair rather then the arm of the chair. This resulted in a 180 degree spin which flipped you out of the chair and threw you head first into the wall. The impact of your head broke the outlet cover that you hit and you landed with your left arm pinned under your body while laying on your back.

The whole incident really shook you up. After, when I heard what actually happened, I was shook up too. You had talked Bill into making an A&W run. He had left to pick up the food when all this had happened. You were home alone with Quinn at the time. You were impatient and felt that you could at least manage to do something like urinating on your own.

When it happened, Quinn came immediately to your aid. With both of you crying, you tried to comfort him and asked him to get a pillow to help get you comfortable while you waited for Bill. This requested sparked Quinn into action. He was scared and needed a plan (just like his mother).

Once he realized he could help, he went from panic mode to plan mode. He talked you into letting him run to our neighbor, Harold, for help. He promised not to be gone long. He wasn’t. Unfortunately, the Harold wasn’t home. He tried to call me on the cell phone but I didn’t have it on while I was at the Mira. So he stayed by your side comforting you until Bill arrived home a few minutes later. He was very brave.

You are extremely proud of Quinn as he managed the situation with his level-headed thinking. For the next few days as you retell the story, Quinn beams as you talk about his role in saving you. You’d say “Quinn saved my life.”

Once I get home and assess the situation, I am a little less panicked. Fran and I decide that we should have you seen at the hospital to be sure there are no serious problems. The only way to get you there is by ambulance. They arrived quite quickly and you were examined fairly quickly. As we wait, a xray was taken of your shoulder.

Waiting is like fertilizer to the imagination. I was imagining at the very least, the hospital wouldn’t let us take you home again and your Christmas vacation would be cut short. At worse there was a significant injury to your shoulder or head. When I verbalized these feelings, Tara said “But Mummy, remember how lucky we are. We still have Daddy.”

Tara seems to see the big picture much better then I do.

The xrays show nothing obvious says Dr. Bell. Thank God. The best news was we could take you back home! This means another ambulance ride home because you cannot ride in a car without your wheelchair. In very little time, you were back where you belong. The EMT’s said as we were heading home that falls from wheelchairs are a common occurrence.

I thought that we might be able to not enter the hospital for five days while you were home, Oh well, it was still a good three-day stretch. I’m just glad you weren’t put in the some room as we saw you in the day you had your stroke. I would have really lost it if we were in that room.

You felt indebted to Bill and now Quinn. You want to give Quinn money to get another video game for his Nintendo. I object to this line of thinking. Quinn helped you because he loves you and he did a great job. The praise and pride that you have for him is payment enough. To ‘pay’ him for it seems to cheapen the act of doing a good deed.

Besides, I don’t think Quinn needs a video game. The past two mornings, instead of doing his usual visit to our bed of morning cuddles, he has been in his room worshiping the ‘Nintendo gods’. I do not like this at all. I wish Santa never gave the game machine to him. I pray it’s just a phase. But to be safe I think we should make some house rules about Nintendo playing to safe guard his wellbeing.

Quinn wants your approval … not money or video games. Your approval will last him a lifetime. It’s an important building block to his self-esteem.

The Millbrook youth group would like your gratitude. They want to feel good about thinking about other people’s needs. After a lot of talking about the money they gave you, we agree to thank them and put the money in a separate account. I promise that we will not touch it until you are able to walk into our home and get to your room by yourself safely.

If you can achieve this feat then we will think of some way that we can pay the good deed forward and use the money for that.

Your personality has not changed. But you have changed. Your values and the fundamental core values are the same but how you express these values seems different. I have noticed this and so have you. “My underlying identity is still there, but I am just a portion of a man … I’m hoping to get it all back. Giving back helps erase the memory of the screw up I did.”

“Since my stroke, I’ve lost a lot of things like how I express my values. I talk to different people about things in life, values, right and wrong, honest, love and friendship. I am relearning a lot of things, like how to treat friends and family, how you deal with loss and death, love, hate, humor. People give me their view of these things, it might be different but it might be better, so I trade up.” You feel you are a blank canvass. The people, you come in contact with, help you paint the picture of who you are. They help reconstruct who you are.

In an odd way, you feel that “this may be the silver lining” to your stroke. You believe that you will become a better person.

I think we are getting somewhere in getting you to believe in yourself. It feels so good to share with you our feelings. I remember a dream that I had in the first week after your stroke. You walked with a limp and we hugged and you talked and talked and talked. Part of my dream has come true. You are talking. We have talked more then we have in many years. You are revealing sides of you that I didn’t know were there.

I think I’m falling in love with you again.

This was a very emotional day

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