Monday, April 5, 2010

Monday March 29 – Focus on the Feelings.

It wasn’t hard to get the children up today. You are still home and it’s a school morning. They are both excited. You are going to go to the school with them. Like most siblings, they fight over who is going to get push you in the chair and which classroom you are going to visit first.

It’s a great visit. So many familiar faces. You would spend all day there if I hadn’t dragged you away. You know all the children in both Tara and Quinn’s classes. You volunteered with the classes since they started in their primary year.

You roll around the classes and name each child by name and asking questions about their life that you missed. Occassionally, you would stumble over a name but you got most of them right. I could tell you are pleased with yourself that you remembered all the important details.

We are almost late for your PT session. Just as we roll in the door, you recall the PT saying that she had cancelled you session today. You had forgotten to tell me. Oh man, all the hurry and worry to be on time for nothing.

We had a psychologist appointment in the morning. I had forgotten, but the psychologist hadn’t and tracked us down. I guess we are even in our forgetfulness – Your excuse is that you had a catastrophic stroke.,.. what’s mine?

It was a good session. A lot less tears then the first time we had met together. There were several topics and he said, “We covered a lot of ground.” He said. You wondered aloud if the psychologist gets paid more for covering a lot of ground. He smiled.

I couldn’t tell if covering a lot of ground quickly was a good thing or a bad thing. Oh well, I guess it’s really more important to think of success in terms for how you feel at the end of the session. I think we both felt good.

The epiphany for me today was centered around my thoughts on your desire to smoke. On the car ride to Hailfax, we talked about this and I said that I figured that the reason you told me about your smoking was because you, subconsciously, wanted my help in trying to shake it. You had tried before on your own, but it is hard enough to quit. To quit without support must be very hard. I told you that I would be strong for you if you needed me to be strong.

I even took the two packs of cigarettes out of the garbage can where I put them last week. I wrapped up the open pack in 29 layers of duct tape. I said that I didn’t want to enable you to smoke but it had to be your decision to quit. So I gave the wrapped package and said that the 29 layers of duct tape would be hard to get through. It will give you lots of time to think whether you really wanted to smoke or not.

I wanted to make starting to smoke as hard, if not, harder then quitting to smoke. 29 layers of duct tape seemed like a good symbolic barrier to smoking to me.

When I shared my approach with the psychologist, he frowned. He said I got it all wrong. He enlightened me. “Don’t make smoking the battle ground. Chris has to want to quit.” He said that when you talk about smoking, it is because you are trying to find a way to cope with your feelings at the time. So I shouldn’t focus on the smoking … I should focus on the feelings that you have.

My epiphany is that the desire to smoke is a symptom of unpleasant feelings that you need to explore. I am actually relieved with this view. I am not a confrontational person by nature, I was uncomfortable with the idea of physically preventing you from smoking. I like this approach much better.

I would rather explore feelings then run interference.

We talked about the Sunday afternoon and how the children reacted to your dark mood. I realize that I have to recruit help to be with you while I do things with the children. It’s not fair to them to deny them their childhood pleasures. I don’t want them to feel that you are to ‘blame’ for the circumstances they find themselves in.

At the end of the day, I met with your new OT person. She is the third OT you have had since you started at the rehab. You think she is new but she was actually your first OT. She worked with you in the fall at the Halifax Infirmary. She gave you your first chair. Now she is helping to order your, hopefully, last chair.

I like this OT. She was great and I sense that she is very keen on her position. She reviews what she knows about with you and the layout of our home. We trouble shoot problems.

I ask her about a therapy of left neglect. The Lighthouse technique. Your doctor had suggested it to your first OT, but nothing was done, and when the interim OT took over, he wasn’t interested in starting something new. Thankfully, this OT is interested and wants to start this treatment with you. I feel very positive about your ‘new’ old OT.

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