Friday, January 8, 2010

Tuesday January 5 - A Slightly Different You

Bill planned to leave for Montreal today. He got his gear and two cats loaded in the car, we said our good byes and he drove off. I left shortly after him and stopped at the local Timmy’s to get you a coffee. There, I meet Bill coming out with two coffees. He was going to stop by the hospital and say good bye to you before he left. I smiled at his thoughtfulness and said I meet him again at your room.

Just as I was walking up to your room, I get a phone call from Bill. His car died in the middle of the street outside the Timmy’s. The traffic is backed up to the TransCanada.
I circle back and see if I can help. I’m not mechanically inclined. There is nothing I could do but offer moral support. Bill calls the tow truck and spends the rest of his day getting his car fixed. Thank goodness, that happened while he was close to home. Bill gets to stay another night in Truro.

This morning I made a mistake. When you were getting bathed the LPN noticed a sore on your back. For the sake of efficiency, I interrupted you and explained that the sore was better then it was. You wanted to have the nurse check your PEG tube. You are worried that the hole in your stomach is a problem. It looks fine.

You weren’t happy with me. I can’t blame you. There is so little that you can do. The one thing you can do to contribute to your wellbeing is communicate your thoughts and feelings and I interrupted you. As I talked to the nurse, I didn’t even try to include you in the conversation.

I have tried very hard to include you in all conversations with the nurses. Even during the days when you were fairly out of it and probably don’t remember. I included you so that you would feel you are a valued part of the team. But today, I was distracted and forgot to include you. I’m sorry.

You still only three channels over night. Apparently you complained so much some poor staff member could not listen to your complaining any more and had mercy for you and managed to swap a working TV for the three channel unit. You are thankful.

Later in the day the TV lady came to your room later that day, she was surprised that
You had a TV that worked. “There must be night TV fairies at work here.” She said with a smile.

You are getting to know some of the people on the floor. Dave, a double amputee is a four-time graduate of the NSRC. He says “I’ve seen guys down there who make tremendous progress." The three of you compare notes on your ailments. “I can’t walk” says Dave. “I can stand but that’s it.” You say. “I can’t even stand.” Says Murray.

That’s a tough conversation to listen too. The three of you talk about the less fortunate people on the floor. I guess there is always someone who is less advantaged then you.

I went to see a psychologist today. I needed to talk to someone who could give me some insight into myself and my thoughts about your stroke. Her insights were crystal clear. I felt much better after. Best of all, I’m armed with a plan to try and improve things. I go back to the hospital and share some of this information with you.

The psychologist said that it would be a while until you are whole again. The obsessions that you experience now will gradually fade and more of your normal self is back. It may take a few years.

It seems that all your layers have been stripped away, from your core, with the stroke. Only the core values are left. Your persona is naked and exposed for all to see. Gradually as you recover, layers will be added. Some old familiar layers will be found and put on. Other layers will be made new and a little different. The result will be a ‘slightly different you’. When will you be complete again. I don’t know if anyone can say. I expect that you are the most qualified to know when you feel whole again.

I think I will still love the ‘slightly different you’ as much and I will appreciate you more.
You want to talk to your parents about some worries that you have. I suggest that you talk to your brother, Steve, first and get his opinion about the situation before worrying your parents with your thoughts.

That night you had a good long talk with Steve. You were so happy with the call that afterwards, you called me and told me all about it. I think for the first time, you are really starting to connect with Steve. You are brothers united by life and in life. With a shared childhood, siblings should have a special bond that extends into adulthood. I don’t think you and Steve were that close as children. That has changed now.

“I miss my brother.” You said. “I love him. We weren’t close as young children. But we are now.” Another silver lining to your stroke. “I feel closer to Bill and Steve, I don’t want the relationships to slip away. I don’t how many days we have ... I want to make them count.”

I think Steve feels this love too. Shortly after Christmas you got a package in the mail from Steve. The package contained a Mug with the words: ‘Together we have grown sharing childhood dreams. Brother. You are a part of all that I love … you are a miracle.’
You are very touched by the words and warmed by the sentiment.

Your thinking processes are evolving fairly quickly. In the space of a few weeks, you have gone from wanting a retire and go live in Cape Breton tomorrow to developing a plan to achieve this in 10-15 years. That’s a big step. In many ways, seeing your thinking processes evolve reminds me of watching a young person grow up only the evolution is much faster. Most children take years go from needing immediate gratification to accepting delayed gratification. Some children never learn this lesson even into adulthood. You learned this lesson in about two weeks.

One of the new things you are learning is patience. This is big for you.

Typically, you would rather drive for longer and further to get to your destination then sit a wait for the traffic to clear and let you through. You hated to wait. Now you are waiting most of the day. Waiting for the nurse to come, wait for rehab, wait for me to come, wait for your spot in rehab. You have learned to wait.

After skating, The children and Bill spend half an hour wrapping Maddie’s Birthday present in many layers of paper. For a two-year-old, the best part of getting a present is the unwrapping part. Maddie should have fun with this present.

Bill’s unfortunate luck with his car turned out to be lucky for me. While Bill and the children were wrapping the present, Annie and I went for a walk. She really enjoyed the walk and I enjoyed the mental break and fresh air. I miss walking with you.

We haven’t walked together regularly for many years. The children’s busy lives have contributed in part to this. There are really no other reasons, other then we just never made the time. Before the children, we’d walk together regularly with the dogs. I loved walking with you. It’s the one time of the day that it was just you and I walking and talking. I had forgotten how much I’d enjoyed our regular walks ... until now. As I walked with Annie, I imagined those walks happening again.

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