“You might want to sit down.” You said as we started our nightly phone call. I was sitting and trying to eat my dinner while getting children to brush their teeth and talk to you. An average night full of multitasking.
“I have a new discharge date. March 25th. They want me for two more weeks.” You sounded like you had mixed feelings about it. I did too. I want you home. I want to start living our new life together but I also want you to get the most that you can out of the NSRC.
“That’s great.” I said trying to convince us both that it IS great. I know that it’s great news but I still worry about it really means.. Maybe they want to work more on stairs; maybe they want to do something else or maybe they just need more time to get what they had started done. I tried not to speculate about it too much. “Two weeks is nothing compared to a lifetime.” I tell you. “We’ve waited this long, Two more weeks is easy.”
You feel that you are doomed. “It’s a Karma thing.” You explain. “I’m going to get home and then I’ll have another massive brain bleed again within two weeks.” I scold you for talking negative again. “That type of talk isn’t going to help your cause.” I change the subject to get you off that track – it’s like a well-worn luge run. Icy, slippery and dangerous. I don’t want to go down that path.
“Did you get the things you wanted from Marsha?” Marsha collected some things from home for you yesterday and took them down to Halifax today. She delivered them to you after her work. One item was a poster. A special poster. One of three posters you collected at the Boston Marathon last year.
You wanted the poster to give to your PT. She has been such a great inspiration to you. She always has a story to share. Stories about people and their lives. Her calm voice captures your mind with a story while she cues you through the exercise that she is doing with you. It is amazing to watch. Like a well choreographed dance.
The poster is special. It has a photo of Boylston Street in Boston packed with triumphed runners. Many, draped with silver thermal blankets, drunk with the joy of having completed the Boston marathon and moving east on Boylston street. The runner’s heads are faced away from the camera. All you can see are heads and thermal blankets. The sunlight is bouncing off the windows of the buildings that line the street. The light creates a small rainbow effect.
It’s a great picture. It is great because of the some other special content. This picture is worth 26,385 words … actually not words – names. The photo has letters for pixels. And the letters spell the names of the runners. All 26,385 runners. They are listed in alphabetical order. There is a caption on the picture. It reads: “Greatness goes by many, many names.” Your name is about an inch above the ‘G’ of Greatest.
You want your PT to have this poster because some day you want to be in one of her stories that she tells other people when she is trying to inspire them to do their best.
Your PT had said at the beginning for your stay there that she felt that you would be able to walk short distances with assistance. I expect that if you were an average person, she might be right but you are a marathon runner. She didn’t consider who she was telling that too. The word ‘short’ is a relative term. To one person, short distances may be to the bathroom and back. To you, a marathon runner, a short distance is 5- 10 kilometers.
Today you broke free of the parallel bars. You walked with the cane about the gym! Oh I can’t wait until I can see you on Monday. You tell Tara on the phone. Tara can’t believe it – “That’s awesome Daddy. She giggles. She is so impressed that she says “I can’t believe it.” “I’m not lying.” You say half serious - half tease. “No Daddy, I didn’t mean I don’t believe you – I mean I can’t believe IT – It’s happening!” “It’s a dream come true.”
Another item that you requested was a copy of the stand up comedy routine you did at the church a few years ago. It is entitled “On the Seventh Day He Cleaned”. During your performance you recount stories about your experiences in the church. It was a great show and although you were quite nervous about doing it at the time, you did it anyway. You are quite proud of it now ... and have every right to be proud. It is very funny.
You want to show the DVD to some of the recreational therapy staff. You want them to see the other side to you. The dry humour with a deadpan face is a skill that you had long before the stroke. You want to show the people at the rehab that you are still you. Your humour isn’t ‘inappropriate … it’s funny, really funny.
I received in the mail a book that I ordered for you. It is written by the same woman who wrote the ‘One handed in a Two Handed World’ book. This book is entitled ‘Teach Me to Run’. In this book, Tommye-K Mayer recounts her recovery from a nearly fatal thalamic cerebral hemorrhage. She works at the recovery and builds on it until she learns to run again. She has left with left hemi-paresis. Just like you.
On the back cover, Bill Rodgers, a world famous distance runner and one of the 26,385 names on the poster, write about his admiration for Tommye-K. Bill is a ‘Great’ hero of yours. I haven’t told you about this book. I am saving it for a special time when I think you may need to hear her story. I don’t know when that well be …I am going to trust that I will just know when it’s the right time.