I knew it would be a ‘snow day’ before I even opened my eyes. Why? It certainly wasn’t because of the vast amount of snow outside - because we did not even get a flake. It wasn’t the radio that tipped me off because I was woken up before the radio even turned on.
It was because of Quinn. Quinn, the sleepy head in the family, was awake and ready to go by 6:45am. Tara was right on his heals ... Why do they do this to me? If it was a school day Quinn would be hibernating like a bear and Tara would be ‘bearly’ up.
Since we didn’t have to get to school, we called you. You and the children had a great morning chat. Tara plays some piano over the phone followed by the two of them playing you a duet ... ‘Heart and Soul’. Tara tells you all about the science fair that she wants to do over the next few weeks.
She is very excited about it.
Shortly after Quinn awoke, he felt sad. He knew why. When he realized that it was a snow day but you weren’t here to enjoy it with them, he felt sad. He misses you. He pats Himmy as he talks to you. Quinn tells you all about the class trip to the maple sugar farm next week.
He is very excited about it.
You tell me about your experience with the treadmill. They had you in a safety harness of some sort that would catch you if you fell. You walked while holding onto the frame with your right hand. The pace was slow but you did it with your PT. It went great and you felt good. You can picture doing this for a long time.
You are very excited about this. I am excited about this.
You were not very excited about an experience you had last night. The night nurse didn’t want you to have too much coffee before bed … you were on your third cup! Your nurse recognizes that caffeine and sleeping pills don’t make good bed partners. This combination is complicated by the predictable outcome of needing to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
You are getting tired of being told what you can and can not do.
Today, I met with a local psychologist who I have met with before a handful of times over the years. I was getting tired of waiting to get help through the NSRC. About three weeks ago, I decided that I needed take charge of the situation and seek my own help. It seemed that everything that I did to help you out of your despair seems to be temporary or make things worse. I needed help.
She was an immense help. She helps me figure out ways to reframe what you say so that you can see that is not helping your recovery. She talks about your roles within the family and how you can contribute to our family’s wellbeing. She even shares with me ideas about the children. How to protect them from your dark thoughts and odd reactions.
The children have rarely seen you frustrated at anything. Now they see your frustration level rise all the time. These new reactions of yours are very normal considering the situation but they need to be put in context for the children so they know that the frustration is about you and your recovery, not about them.
Ironically, a counselor at the NSRC called today to offer some family counseling. I think that it would be worthwhile to do and with March break coming up the timing is perfect.
While Tara is waiting for Quinn’s piano lessons to finish, we walk about you and your left neglect and how frustrating it must be for you. I didn’t get very far with the concepts. I can see that this is a conversation that will have to unfold in parts. Her logical mind will understand things better if I can let her figure out the issues that you have.
With March break coming up and us living in Halifax during the week and getting to see more of you, I hope that we can unlock some of the mysteries about your new self to the children.
I tried calling you but the line was busy. Just as I was going to call again, Marianne called. She had just been talking to you and the things you said scared her. Your dark talk is extending out from family to friends.
I call you right back. It’s a bad call … the worst call yet. You are broken emotionally. I can see no threads of hope to pull on. I can see nothing but tears. You are so distressed that you say you don’t want to talk! This is a first … you are shutting me out.
Ironically, just this afternoon, the psychologist had said that truly depressed people push their support away. I was rallied by that thought because up to this minute, you had reached out every time you were in pain. But now you are withdrawing. I was scared. You hang up on me. I was really scared.
The thing that sent you off the deep end was a conversation you had with your PT. She said that ‘24 hour supervision’ was going to be a reality. Your independence snatched away. This is not new news to you but you heard it this time with a new level of understanding. It has cut you down to nothing. “I’m going to need to be babysat.” I said between sobs.
Thankfully, the children were in bed asleep. I wail in despair and cry – I’m out of control. Then the phone rang … I thought that it might be you. It’s Fran. I take a few deep breaths and try to hold it together. I last for half the time it takes to say ‘Hello’. She comforts me and tries to understand what I’m saying.
As I attempt to talk with Fran, the computer screen goes into screen saver mode. It flashes a mixture of pictures taken over the past year. Pictures of you at the climax of your life … at Boston and doing active things with the children and pictures of you nearest death in a hospital bed in the ICU. These pictures are a painful reminder of the past year and what it held for us.
Fran lends a listening ear to my worries and fears and allows me to talk things out. For me talking or writing out my worries helps me see them in a better prospective. I felt a little better as Fran and I end our phone call.
I collected myself. My peptalk to myself went like this: ‘This is not new news – Chris is not worse physically – he is getting better physically every day – if we can just get through this then he will find happiness on the other side. If he is happy we will be all right.’
I called you back with these thoughts in my head. We talk and we share. You start to talk about death again. “I want to come home this weekend … I just want to come home one more time …” I don’t let you finish the sentence.
As we talk, I realize that you feel so powerless that the only thing you think that you can control is your life …or death. You know that if you talk about death before you do something desperate than I will stop you. You tell me that you don’t want me to hate you if all I find is a note.
I pray, God, Please give me the strength to know what to say to this.
I didn’t know what to do. I decide to empower you and yet put limits on you. You have always been a man of your word. When you say you’ll do something … nothing will stop you until it’s done. Your word has always been very important to you so I ask you to promise me something.
“Promise me that you will wait at least one full year after you come home before you try anything like that. I know that with time you will feel better. After that year I may ask for an extension but if you can promise me that you will stick this life out for a full year then I promise not to hate you ever.”
You agree to this. You didn’t like the loop hole of the renewal possibility in one year but you agree. I said from now on we will just refer to this as ‘The Promise.’ You agree.