Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Monday February 8 - Driving and Determination

Today is your visual field test at 8am. We talked about this yesterday and I explain to you how it works. I have had this done a number of times to monitor my visual field. So far, I’m still good but my progressive eye disease will likely beat me on the test at some point in the future.

You were a good driver. I felt very safe in your car. You had sharp eyes and didn’t miss a thing. I drive like Mr. Magoo. That’s what you told me. You are right. I have so many near misses. I scare myself. I am not a good driver. You were the driver in the family and that was fine with me.

You called me at work today. Full of tears and sobs. I could hardly understand what you said. You were not so lucky with your test. The doctor was blunt. “You will never drive again.” You asked the question again taking a different tack. The same answer. You are devastated. I tried to reassure you.

This lost hits me hard too. I feel the pressure of being the driver of the family.

Ironically just an hour before, a client, Susan was in with her little shelties. She is my age and had a stroke a seven years ago. After her stroke, she couldn’t see from her left side. She couldn’t drive. Luckily, within a year her vision came back to the point where she could see well enough to drive and she has driven since then.

I tell you about her experience. I emphasize that the doctor said you couldn’t drive now. We both knew that driving now would be dangerous … and impossible since you haven’t even managed to get into a car since your stroke. I can’t imagine that any doctor would so insensitive as to shut down all possibility of hope. You are sure the doctor said ‘never’. At this point you don’t seem to care. You are too busy licking your wound. Who could blame you. That was a tough card to be dealt.

Susan told me of her personal experience with the stroke and how she is different. She knows it, her family sees it. The depression was deep and dark. She still has trouble concentrating and focusing on a task. Susan had good advice. “You can’t live in yesterday and you can’t live for next week. You have to pace yourself and live now.”

I think that you have a difficult time focusing on tasks too. Even an enjoyable task, like watching the Superbowl. I asked if you were going to watch it and you causally said “I might watch a bit of it.” A bit of it! That’s not the football fan I know. You would have been sure to have the weekend schedule planned about the Superbowl. This is rather eerie to see.

I wonder if this is one of the reasons why you haven’t read much since the stroke. Even watching TV. One of your favorite past-times, you only half-heartedly watch the TV. (Much to my delight)

For Susan, it’s been almost eight years and she is still ‘recovering’. It’s such a long time.

From work, I try calling you back in the afternoon. No answer. I called your parents so that they can keep trying to call while I leave work to fetch children. I try calling again. You say “Call back in 30 minutes, the nurse is taking me to supper.” I call back and the line is busy, Finally after the children are in bed, I get through to you.

You are still in the self-pity mode but showing some effort to come out of it. You tell me about the phone calls you had today. Kevin, Janice and your parents. “It’s good to hear positive talk.” You say. “Tomorrow is a different day.”

I think that you are a small ‘e’ extrovert at heart. You draw your energy from your surroundings and the people who you are with. The phone call and visits are very therapeutic.

You volunteered your body for a class on transfers that your PT is teaching. You are happy to be of some help – even if it’s being a broken body. Your PT is teaching this skill and she needed a willing volunteer. You always like to please people so you volunteered.

You have a lot of negative talk coming out of you now. “I might as well be a tire wedge. It is depressing – nothing I do is right.” “I would rather be dead then be a burden.” After today’s news being nonchalantly dumped on you, leaving you with no hope of being able to drive again, you still manage to be defiant and say “As much as they keep kicking me when I’m down – I’m still here”

I try to rally your spirits over the phone. As our phone conversation continues you shift a little in your thinking. “I know I can’t drive … I wouldn’t want to endanger the children or other drivers.” You are starting to think things through. “I could do meal prep and looking after the home front. If I am not allowed to live a normal existence, then I will still try to look after my family anyway that I can.”

I cry at the sound of these words.

It seems when your feelings are at a low point, somehow, I am able to find the energy to bring you out of it. What really impresses me is that when I’m low, you, with all your ‘disabilities’, manage to find the energy to rally me out of it. You still have significant abilities.

“Is the juice worth the squeeze?’ You ask. Then you answer your own question. “You, Tara and Quinn and the pets are my juice. The juice is definitely worth the squeeze.”

I am so relieved to hear this. The tone in your voice had the hard edge of determination that you used to have before. Your flame is flicking. Your determination is coming back.

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