Friday, February 12, 2010

Thursday February 11 – No ‘Never’s Ever

In the world of rehabilitation the word ‘Never’ has no place. ‘Never’ is so strong a word it removes all hope. When hope goes, it takes with it one’s will, determination and motivation. Without these essential ingredients, rehabilitation is not possible.

Doctors can say ‘Never’ when referring to other things like smoking, drinking or any self-destructive behaviour. But they should NEVER utter the words ‘Never’ to patients. Especially brain injured patients.

I started to read the ‘Stronger after Stroke – Your Roadmap to Recovery’ book tonight while at Chella’s waiting for Tara and Quinn’s piano lessons. As with any book I read, I read the last part first. The index. I looked of key words that were used in reference to your stroke. Hemiparetic, shoulder-hand pain, neglect, neuropathic pain. I got some hits and some misses. I decided it would be simpler to just start the book from the beginning.

It has a great beginning. In the preface, the author talks about the ‘super-surviver’. A “super-survivor is so unwilling to let go of their career, their independence, or a personal passion that they are compelled to recover. They intertwine recovery with what they love to do. Sometimes recovery is so much part of what they love doing that they don’t even notice they’re recovering!”

“For super-survivor, recovery is a vision quest. The challenge of recovery is no different then the other challenges that they have conquered in life. They get on with it. They put in the time. They fall in love with the process. In much the same way athletes and musicians enjoy practice, stroke survivors who recover see the process of recovery as an opportunity for growth.”

The preface goes on about neuroplasticity, and how motivation is a very big part of drives the neuroplasticity. “While the idea of ‘practice makes perfect’ is simple, how to practice is more complicated. This book defines the time needed to drive neuroplastic change.”

WOW, this grabbed my attention. As I listen to the music leaking out the piano room door, I remembered Tara’s frustration with the piano at first. She practiced and got better. But it’s falling in love with the practice that makes a passion. Tara now loves to pick out songs on the piano, ukulele, recorder, guitar and many other musical instruments she can get her hands on.

She has fallen in love with the process of practice. I see Quinn starting to do the same. Practice is the birthplace of a passion. How can I help you fall in love with your practice? Your recovery is becoming my passion but it has to be yours too.

I don’t have to be a rehabilitation expert to know that the first ingredients for a passion are: hope, will, determination and motivation. Like a bitch (for you non-animal types = a fierce mother dog), I will not let anyone try to take those away from you again.

After many no answers and busy signals, I finally got through to you tonight. You had a good talk with Steve from Ottawa. He and Laura are heading to Jamaica for a holiday. You said that Steve felt guilty about going. “I don’t understand, he has nothing to feel guilty about.” You said.

I understand Steve’s guilt. I feel guilt too. Maybe guilt isn’t the right word. I’m not sure what the right word is. I feel sad that you, a natural athlete and gifted driver, are trapped in your body and me, a natural cluts and challenged driver, have been given freedom to roam about with little effort. Somehow, it doesn’t seem fair.

At PT today, you were walking between the parallel bars. Your PT student felt that you were lifting your left leg up a little more. A lift is the start to a step. That’s progress. I will be in Halifax next Monday for the day. We have the family meeting then. I hope to see the progress.

You have spent your afternoons on the Kinetron. I expect it will help you strengthen your legs … both of them.

Your OT is working on a plan for you to follow for recovery. I’m glad to hear this. I think this will help keep you focused on your recovery. Every journey or marathon needs to be mapped out.

This afternoon, there was some sort of Open House. They had a trivia question game. “I got about 90% of them right.”

“No coffee today” You said. I suspect that’s not true. You got coffee with your meals, just no Tim Horton's coffee. I suspect that you will survive.

No psychiatrist visit today. After having two psychiatrist-types see you yesterday, you were hopeful that someone might see you again today. “Perhaps next week. Maybe they are working on a plan for you too! Maybe there is just too much for them to work on.” I said teasingly. “Yeah” you said “maybe they will say that I have to give up breathing!”

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