Sunday, February 14, 2010

Friday February 12 - An ‘Inspirational Runner’ and More

It seems that I looked forward to the weekend, all week long. Now it’s here, I’m worn out. Today wasn’t especially busy at work. Just steady and low pressure. I was itching to finish. Not because I didn’t enjoy the day at work. I did. Because, I knew the rest of the day would be a race.

A race to walk home with Annie. A race to check email to make sure we had a place to stay. A race to pack. Pack for the children, pack for me, pack food. Collect Annie’s things for her stay over at Juanita’s. Collect the things I wanted to show you this weekend. Feed the fish and feed the cats. Pick up Quinn and drop off Annie and then pick up Tara.

I tried to get this all done by 6 pm. It was a race but we did it. The roads were wet and it was hovering about minus 3. I decided that slow and steady was the best approach. After an emergency bathroom break for Quinn, we finally limped past the finishline at almost 8 pm and now I’m tired.

Earlier today, on the way home with Annie, I got a call from the psychiatrist’s student. They had a good interview with you and felt there was some level of depression. It seems the art of psychiatry is knowing what depression is appropriate and what isn’t. The very question I have been asking myself since early November. I feel a little frustrated that it’s taken this long to get a professional opinion.

The student also mentioned your broken social filter. I don’t see it the same way. It is a much-improved filter since your Truro days. I have not been present when any of the ‘inappropriate language’ has occurred. So I couldn’t comment on it other then to say that I felt that it’s improved a lot and before your stroke your sense of humor was very dry and always had a little edge to it. Some might have said that you challenged social barriers before your stroke.

We both agreed that you are more talkative then ever and I shared my joy at this. “He needs coping strategies for all the stress that is being thrown his way.” I am worried that he may find another addiction to cope. Right now he talks things out. That seems a very healthy way to cope. But I’m worried that this may not continue.”

The student said that you were put on a priority list for counseling and that it would be continued once you go home as a form of support. I feel relieved that a plan is getting put into place.

I really wanted to thank the resident who got the ball rolling on your emotional health. When I called her, earlier this week, to express my long standing concerns, she wasn’t even on the same rotation anymore, but she took the time to listen to me and tried to make a difference.

You were happy to see us. It’s been five days since we last saw you. We were happy to see you too. You were freshly clean-shaven. You looked good. You proudly showed me your journal and the sheets that you are keeping for your OT.

The daily OT log allows you to track the events of the day. There is a section that you must fill in entitled: Today’s Goal. Today’s goal was to keep the left side of your mouth clean. At the bottom of the page is another section entitled: Something positive today. This was blank when we got to the hospital.

You lost your wallet today. Thankfully, I had cleaned out all the important papers from your wallet when you moved to the NSRC. All that was left was a little money and your MSI card. Ironically, this is the card that said, and still does say, that you are an organ donor!

As the children settle down in front of your TV, you tell me quietly that you were called into the ‘principal’s’ office. Your doctor talked to you about inappropriate language. “There’s a flaw with my synapses.” This is your diagnosis, not hers. She just simply asked you to think about things before you say them.

You gave us a little demo of the grabbers and other adaptive aids that the OT has been working with you. You take of your shoes and socks using the gabber. It takes a while and I have to sit on my hands to not ‘help’. Finally you get it. Practice makes perfect. I have to remember that, for you to recover and learn to do things, me helping is really no help. I can also see that you will have a good excuse to leave your clothing on the floor from now on. This has been a pet peeve of mine for only about 25 of our 24 years together.

I read to you the preface of our new book: ‘Stronger After Stroke’. You are invigorated by the words of hope. “I will prove them wrong (referring to this week’s doctors) but as long as you are happy then I don’t give a crap.” You then make a promise to me … in writing on the OT log sheet. “I was given ‘Stronger After Stroke’ by my amazing wife, Gwen, which is the first book that I will read while being incarcerated. Over and Out.”

You lean over and kiss me and say “Grow old with me, the best is yet to be ... I will work at it hard.”

Karen, who cares for our children on Fridays after school said today “Tell Chris that he is still a runner … an inspirational runner. There are days I don’t want to run but I think of him and I get out there and do it.” You are an inspirational runner. But you have potential to be an inspiration in many other roles in your life.

Father, husband, son, brother, friend … these are the roles that will motivate you to get the best recovery that you can. Among them is room for an ‘inspirational runner’.


  1. You are an inspirational runner!! Yesterday, I was having a hard, heavy run but when I pictured Chris it became so much easier. I kept thinking that it was easy to stop but harder to move I kept moving, finished my goal run and felt great all day. Believe in your progress!
    Stephanie and The Boys - Five strong cheering you on!

  2. I know you have mentioned reading Jill's book but not sure if you have watched her presentation. Here is the info:

    Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor had an opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: One morning, she realized she was having a massive stroke. As it happened -- as she felt her brain functions slip away one by one, speech, movement, understanding -- she studied and remembered every moment. This is a powerful story about how our brains define us and connect us to the world and to one another.

    This is 18 minutes...awesome and well worth the time when you have it...

  3. Thanks Doone:
    I have seen the clip - I hold onto the message dearly. The book is very good too. Quite an exoperience to have a tour of a stroke as it happens. Of course there are signif differences (left vs right) etc but all the same the inside peak was a good read during those long days in the step down ICU.