Sunday, March 21, 2010

Saturday March 13 - Challenges

Today was a day that I had been looking forward to all week. I had planned for it and I was right on schedule. That was when the detours started.

Jeff came today to install the banister. This was all part of the plan and things were going well. Then, I thought that I would call you to tell you what time we would get to Halifax so you knew whether to eat your lunch at the hospital. Over the phone you said that you are sicker then ever with the cold. It’s a real cold and you are worried that you are going to get us all sick on the March break. Damn. I survey the children, they don’t care if they get sick. “We are coming anyway.” I said to you.

In the back of my mind, I’m worried that the cold is an excuse. You are pushing us away because of the conflict we are having over smoking.

For Tara’s birthday, Juanita gave her an appointment at the hair salon to get highlights in her hair. Tara was quite excited about this new level of personal adornment. She was going to be with Juanita for the morning and the Juanita and Farley and Tara were going to meet us in Halifax while Quinn and Maddie and I travel ahead.

It didn’t Tara long to come back home because the hair stylist found nits in her hair! Oh gosh the lice thing again! Actually I think my language was worse then that.

I dig out the delousing gear again and I went through her hair, followed by Juanita. Only 6 nits and no adults. All the nits are 4 to 6 inches from the scalp. I am really sure that these are old nits from last fall … not new ones. Tara isn’t upset about the lice suspicion. She is just disappointed that her hair can’t be done. The hair salon has a policy about finding lice … no services rendered with lice. I am upset for Tara, but I force myself to understand the policy.

The real loss is the extra two hours out of a precious Saturday to sort all this out.

Thank God, it’s a beautiful day and we have the whole week with you. We will make the best of it ... even with the occasional infertile old nit. To be sure that we don’t risk spreading anything, I lug to Halifax all our own bedding.

When we get to Halifax, I ask you, flat out, if you are upset with me for refusing to get you cigarettes. The Promise is still fresh in my memory. It must have been in your mind too because you said, “The promise doesn’t include killing myself with cigarettes.” Appreciating the loophole, I said that anything that is self-inflicted is included in the promise. After talking with the children, you consent to coming to Lenore’s.

You read a chapter in your new running book about a long distance runner! Reading is a challenge for you with the left neglect. Finding the left margin is a challenge with every line of text. So to read a chapter … is a big accomplishment. Now you talk about the ‘ultimate walk’. “You’ll know I’ve gone because all the bananas and apples will be gone with me. I’ll put them in a back pack and I’ll call you if I make it to Baddeck.”

Today, you faced another challenge and you succeeded. You had the chance to smoke – fellow patient was going to give you a cigarette – You asked her for one and she told you she was going outside to smoke in 10 minutes. Patience has never been your strong suit … waiting the 10 minutes was all you needed to get control of yourself again. You tell the children and I about this challenge and we are very proud of you.

Yesterday, I thought about you asking for cigarettes. I had thought of bringing you just one cigarette. A single symbolic cigarette. A cigarette in a container that is covered with many layers of duct tape – the handy man’s secret weapon can also be the frustrated wife’s secret weapon. I figured it would be the “in case of emergency break glass” symbol. There would be so much duct tape on the box that by the time you got it all off … with one hand … the urge will pass.

I couldn’t do that to you. What if that allowed you to smoke again? And if it didn’t let you smoke again, then it seems like a cruel joke to put you through. I told you about my idea. You said “Oh, like the ‘In case of emergency – break the glass box’?” You smiled at the thought but you didn’t ask me to do it.

Well, it didn’t matter. It stopped that discussion dead in it’s tracks … at least I thought it did.

“I can’t say that I’m never going to smoke, I was closer other days then I was today to smoke. Today, it was almost too easy to do.”

You bought your first lottery tickets since your stroke. The thought had briefly crossed my mind that I should keep buying your tickets when you were so ill in the hospital. I had found a carefully cared for stash of tickets along with the hidden cigarettes in your car.

I knew you bought lottery tickets. After your gambling problems came to light with VLT’s we had discussed if lottery tickets were part of the same monster. We both felt that playing the lottery was just a fun diversion and you would only buy a few tickets a week. I never discouraged you from this practice. I figured everyone needs a little fun … if that was fun to you … I didn’t have to understand it. As long it was a few tickets only and for fun then I never objected.

Part of me knew that you would have been upset if your numbers ‘came up’ and your hadn’t bought the tickets. Rationally, I knew the odds of that were far slimmer then surviving a catastrophic stroke. I figured the ‘luck gods’ had already smiled on you and buying tickets was just a waste of time and energy … and money. So I didn’t.

At dinner, We are talking again about the stroke and life and smoking and suddenly Quinn makes a face and starts to cry. He doesn’t get to tug an ear lobe because we see him melt down before our eyes. I reach out and hug him. When he composes himself, he said that he worries that both you and I will die and he is scared.

I am so glad we are getting some family counseling this week.

In the evening, we watched a movie. You and I were on the sofa. I went to the kitchen for a moment to get a drink and when I got back you had slipped off the sofa. You were almost on the floor and you were unable to get yourself back up. I tried to help but I wasn’t quite strong enough. Thankfully, Lenore’s furniture includes a low footstool. It worked beautifully. I could help you get on the stool and then like you were sliding your butt up the stairs, one at a time, you managed to slide up to the sofa.

This incident illustrated to both of us how challenging living at home is going to be. I am going to have to learn some tricks to get you out of situations like this.

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