The last week, I have noticed that when I talk to people about your health, I sense that they feel awkward. They have no words and don’t know what to say. These are the same people who have given me tons of support and energy in the past. It’s not just one person, there have been several. Is this just my perception or is it real? I think it’s real. I wondered, to myself, about this observation as I drove with the children to Halifax. Then it hit me.
It’s me. It’s my attitude. I have lost some hope and without hope by my side, I am a different person. I make people feel awkward because I have less hope and strength. I thought that hope and strength came from others. I was wrong. Hope and strength come from within. It doesn’t have to be much to be received positively. When others feel the hope and strength that I project then they reflect it back to me. This is where the magic comes in. When people reflect it back to me, it is magnified. The net effect results in a lot of hope, faith and strength. This is the magic of relating to people.
My epiphany is that I don’t need to exhibit a lot of hope and strength in order to receive it. I just need to project a little. In many ways it’s like a very successful chain letter. You put a little out and receive a lot back. I call it positive energy. Others might call it prayer.
As I drive to Halifax, my mood lightens at the thought of this. Martha, from Ottawa, will be there. She has a very big ‘energy magnifier’. If I can muster enough energy to exude some hope. I know that I’ll get a lot of positive energy back.
On the ride to Halifax, Tara reads aloud about Greek gods. Quinn listens intently to the Greek Mythology lecture. Then he lectured me. I was supposed to call him last night when I got home after dropping them off at Juanita’s for the night. I forgot. He asked if I’m OK. I said “Yes, why do you ask?” “Well, I figured that you must have been hurt because you didn’t call. I was worried all night.” He said holding nothing back. It sounded like a lecture I should be giving him in about 10 years. He made his point, loud and clear.
Tara and Quinn play a round of crib in the back seat. I listen to their game. It amazes me how fast Quinn has mastering the game. I played a game with him this week before bed. This is his third game, second on his own. Quinn is a quick study. They both are going to be crib crazed kids.
When we get to the hospital, Martha is there. You are very happy to see her. She arrived last night and visited until they kicked her out and then came for breakfast.
The two of you talk and Martha gives you many words of encouragement.
Martha is also a big hit with the children. They play with her and paint finger nails and do math problems on your white board. Her positive energy spreads through us all.
You pull me aside for a moment and ask me to dig out a special gift that you have in mind for Martha. Your Boston Marathon jacket.
You had bought two jackets in Boston last year. It seemed excessive to me but you defended your purchase with the “It’s a chance of a lifetime” argument. Who was I to disagree. “Besides” You said “This way I can hand down a jacket to both Tara and Quinn when they are older.” I really couldn’t argue with this logic. So you bought two identical jackets. You wore one the day after Boston while we did some sightseeing. The other jacket hung in your closet, in a plastic bag and with the labels still on it, since we came home. I had forgotten about it, but you hadn’t.
‘I want you to get that jacket and bring it here tomorrow. I want to give it to my best friend.” Martha’s birthday was almost a month ago and you wanted to acknowledge it.
Today you express more anger at yourself and at the situation. You can’t accept the reality now, let alone this reality for life. You express a deep desire to run again. “If I get to run… then everything will fall into place.” It seems simple in your mind. To run means to be free. Free for your stroke and all the limitations that it has imposed on you. You see running as being your salvation. It saved you before with the gambling and you want it to save you again. You are angry, in denial and determined.
This weekend you are going to try to use the bathroom more, rather then the urinal and bedpan. You had gotten used to using this equipment while at the Colchester Hospital. It was a crutch that ‘enabled your disability’. That’s an odd combination of words but it seems to suit the situation and makes sense to me.
Now you are breaking free of these chains. Since we had worked on transfers with the OT team last week, I felt quite confident that we could get you on the toilet easily. I got you on the toilet and left to give you a little privacy. When you called for me, I stuck my head in the door and to my amazement, there you were standing by the toilet!
“How long have you been standing there?” I demand feeling half-proud and half-scared that you’d fall and get hurt. “Oh, just a few minutes.” You said smiling. As I reached out the steady you. You let go of the grab bar and stood there holding onto me. A hug that I had longed for a long time. Your body felt good in my arms. It felt better than the last hug I got from you, the day before your stroke. Our anniversary hug. This was like the dream that I had when you were in the ICU. A dream comes true.
Over the past few weeks, you have befriended one of the cleaning staff. She is a smoker and you gently try to convince her to take charge of her self and get rid of the cigarettes. You have met your challenge. She helps you understand that all you can do is tell your story. You have to let other people decide what they will do with the information. Yesterday, she gave you a present. A little present but it had a big meaning.
It is a small translucent flat rock with one word in it and a magnet glued to the back. The word was “Believe”. I wonder if her own personal struggle with cigarettes has given her insight into your world. She understands what it takes to get through this tough journey of addiction. She knows that you need to believe before anything can happen. You need to believe in yourself. She has offered you supportive words over the last few days but today, we are both touched by her thoughtfulness.
The afternoon is spent polishing nails. It started with Martha and Tara doing each other’s nails. Then you joined in the fun after I cut your hair. It’s a spa day for you. Bright blue nail polish donned your hands. When Quinn saw this he wanted to paint his nails too. Fingers and toes!
Tonight I am oncall and I must be home before 8pm. Leaving is always hard. As we get ready to go and get you settled in bed, You say to us “Look at this!” You were laying in bed on your back. With your feet stretched straight. Slowly you draw your left leg towards your right leg and then lift it up off the bed and hold it there in the air for about 5 seconds! We are all amazed. Not sure whether to believe if this was you will that performed the act or a spasm, you attempted again. You did this about 5 times. Each time, you did it the same way. Martha, who is not only a nurse but also a graduate of kinesiology, recognized this action right away as a positive sign. “Your quads are tight!” She said. We felt your leg as you repeated it. Your quads were tight.
Today, you settled on anger and denial as your flavour of the day. They have been proven to been very good to you. We continue to cheer you along.