Sunday, January 10, 2010

Thursday January 7 – Standing with a Stripper Pole!

This morning I get educated about the content of a typical ‘guy’ conversation. Apparently, guys like to talk about body functions. It’s not just brain-damaged guys. It’s men in general. When Joe came in to say Hi, he jumped right into the BM conversation that you and your room-mate were still having.

When I commented that I had no idea that men were such ‘deep’ thinkers, Joe explains that the real secret about men is that when a man does the right thing at the right time – it is like a moment of Nirvana. Unfortunately, a man only recognizes it after the fact. “Women are lucky” He says . “Women just have more strategy then men.”

I met the stroke coordinator in the hallway. She was in-training to take blood samples today. Being a new resident to Nova Scotia, from England by way of Yellowknife, she is getting used to the unique quirks of a Nova Scotia hospital system. She is very conscious of the fact that she is the ‘new kid on the block’ and has minimal connections. When she talks to the NSRC, she is careful not to ruffle any feathers. I understand her feelings. In this situation the squeaky wheel gets ignored until it’s the squeaky wheel time to come to the NSRC. I doubt that there would be any repercussions for you by being a squeaky wheel, but I can see that she wants to develop good working relationships with her colleagues on the other side of the rehab door.

When she called the admission office at the NSRC and got right through to the lady in charge, she was impressed. She was very pleased to report to me that you have been promoted to fourth on the list from eighth. She feels that means you will be a January admission, but not next week. Three people, she said, were being discharged this week. That would put you to the top of the list. Sadly, the fourth person, who you would replace, is not ready for discharge yet.

When I asked how the strike could affect this status, she said that if the fourth person is waiting for a bed in a hospital outside the Halifax area, then you could be waiting longer due to the strike!

Crap! We have to focus on the positive at least they still think that it will be January.

You got to do something new in physio today. It involves a pole that looks a little like a stripper pole with a small addition.

The team took you to the physio room on the second floor. There, they installed a ceiling to floor pole. At waist level and chest level the pole is covered with foam grips. And at the waist there is a 15-18’ horizontal pole that comes out from the vertical pole. Your chair is pulled up to the pole so that your feet can rest squarely on the ground. With you right hand you reached up and grabbed the pole at a point that is level with your head when you are sitting. From this position you pulled yourself up to a standing position! The physio person wraps the fingers of your left hand around the horizontal pole.

This is all done under the watchful eye of your physio team. One person spots you to the right and the other spots you on the left and guides your left side up without pulling you up. Once you are standing, she braces your knee and thigh on the left to allow you to stand with your weight more evenly distributed. You hold this position, straighten your back and tuck in your butt. You are standing tall! You did this several times.

When you stand like this we are almost eye to eye with you standing a little taller! I felt like giving you a big hug but I restrained myself. I didn’t want to distract you from your job.

You ask if you can have a pole installed in your room so that you can practice. You said “I’d only do 1 or 2 every hour.” “Yah, that’s what I’m afraid of, you will tire out.” She tells you.

You are still having a hard time thinking that it is possible that you ever did anything with your left side. You want to see photos of yourself in action.

Your OT person is finished working at the Colchester Hospital. She is moving to another hospital in NS. Her last day is Friday. She has inspired you and mentored you through some of the infancy of your recovery. Her influence on you has been very positive. We will both miss her. You want to give her a little present before she leaves. You want to give her something that you made with both your hands.

Woodworking is a part time passion for you. You spent many hours in our unheated shed (at our old home) in the dead of winter turning things on the lathe. Bowls, snowmen, Christmas trees, pen casings, table legs, and little wooden baseball bats. If the finished product was round and it could be made of wood, you would try to turn it. You experimented with all sorts of wood. Rosewood and cherry are two of your favorites.

You caught this passion from your good friend, Donald. Donald, who will be 90 this July, was a great influence and mentor. When Donald sold his house and downsized his belongings last year, you ‘inherited’ a lot of his tools. For months, our garage was filled to over flowing with things from Donald’s. The huge pile of things really disturbed my sense of order. There was no room to find anything, let alone work in the garage.

After much discussion, we came to the decision to build a workshop. It would be heat-able and have all the electrical and ventilation things that a workshop should have. You weren’t sure if this was a good idea, but I could see the joy you had working on the lathe and building things and I can see that our children have inherited this creative urge. Even I like to build things. Although after putting my fingers through the table saw twice … on the same day, I am a like shy of the big machines.

A workshop could be a shared family passion. We built it last fall and filled it up with all the equipment that you had acquired over the years. The last items went into it the week after your stroke. Now we have a building filled with things, in a tangled heap. With a little time and organization, it has the potential to be a great shop. That was going to be our Fall 2009 project.

It’s still full of things waiting for you to come and make sense of them and start creating again. The day after your stroke, I wanted to burn the whole building to the ground. It was a reminder of what we lost. But within a few days, I realized that it could be a place of healing for you. Now I’m very excited about the possibilities. We just need to see you connect with your left.

Drs. Walling and McNeely were hesitant about function returning to your left side arm and vision returning to your left field. They were more optimistic about walking.

When I suggest to you that this maybe a bigger challenge then walking, you say “Give up – I don’t know that word”.

Tonight, I will look for something you made as a present for your OT. It is fitting to find something that you made before your stroke, because it will represent who you were and who you hope to be … your future.

In the afternoon, I did some errands while you napped. When I got back you were excited to tell me that you are now officially third on the waiting list. Still no actual date.

I brought my ipod to the hospital with me. It is filled with pictures from the last few years. There were many pictures that showed you using you left side. My favorite pictures were taken in Boston last spring. Our hotel was downtown, handy to the Boston Commons. In the commons, there is a baseball diamond. In April, it lay there empty and ignored. Although we didn’t have any baseball equipment, you and the children played an imaginary game of baseball. I took pictures … lots of pictures. It was a great day. Great Memories.

Among the pictures is one of you bunting a ball and Tara trying to run you down at home plate to get you out. You arms were high in the air, in the shape of a ‘V’ for victory, as you step onto the home plate.

You are impressed with the picture but you are puzzled by your lack of memory for the physical feeling of using your left side.

Social worker stops by and you ask if she thinks it wise for you to run again after your
recovery. She suggests that you ask the opinion of the people at the NSRC. The fact is that the reason for the stroke is a mystery. There is no crystal ball. No one would have been able to predict your stroke. Likewise, no one could say with certainty that it won’t or will happen again. There is no crystal ball. Life is full of risks.

You wonder about other risks related to the stroke. Dr. Walling had said a long time ago, that you would have a MRI in the future, when your brain has healed and finished scarring. After the scarring is done, there will be a little distortion of how your brain is shaped within your skull.

The ventricles are an open space in the brain into which your blood clot had settled. After healing, they may be shaped differently. This could cause fluid building up and increase the pressure on your brain. Getting a MRI will allow the neurology team to have a baseline. They can compare with if there are problems in the future.

Tonight, I tried to get the repaired computer working again after the children were in bed. It didn’t start up correctly. I’ve begun to realize that I have a small addiction to the conveniences that a computer offers. No email for over a week.

I am starting to feel disconnected because of my technical difficulties. This experience gives me a tiny bit of insight into how frustrated you must be at times when you feel disconnected. I didn’t appreciate a fully functioning computer until I didn’t have it … you must feel the same way about your brain.

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