Wednesday, May 19, 2010

May 1 - 7 - Tattoo Day to Tabacco free day?

Saturday May 1 - Tattoo Day

You get your tattoo today. When I drop you off at the tattoo place, the place smelled of smoke. The tattoo artist, also named Chris, smokes too. He is young and in the prime of his life. I screamed at him, in my head, to stop doing such a self-destructive thing. Even if he heard my thoughts, they would not have dissuaded him. He is at the immortal stage of human growth and development ... too young and naive to think anything like a stroke could happen to him.

You like Chris, you said he seems to know a lot for his age. Mmmm, I wonder...

It’s a nice day, while you are getting decorated, the children and I do errands. The tattoo was supposed to be done in 2 hours … four and a half hours later, the masterpiece was done. It is big but it does look good. You are happy with it.

You had no tears today … that’s progress.

Sunday May 2 – Saint Andrew’s Feels Like Home

Tomorrow is the first day of ‘No Smoking’. You want to talk to the congregation at the church and apologize to them … your friends, for your deception. You feel strongly about this. I suggest that you talk to Jay and see what he thinks.

At the church after the service, Jay and you talk about your role at the church. There are so many jobs that you know how to do and what needs to be done. You and the church have become comfortable friends, getting to know each other and what you both need. “I know where everything is, I know the oil has to be changed in the organ motor, I know how to look after the boiler and where things are stored. I know a lot but I don’t know how I could do these things.” You sigh.

Jay has an idea. He wants to convert a storage room into a library for the congregation. He thinks you would be a good guardian of the books. “You can come in a few times a week, put the coffee pot on and talk to people who come in and look after the books.” I think it sounds great. This will be a way for you to contribute to your church and community and have social contact and feel needed.

You have to get used to the idea. The idea of not working again for money. “I thought I had 10 to 15 years of work left in me.” I suggest it is a promotion. You think differently, You think it’s a pity position.
You love Saint Andrew’s Church. When you were talking to Mildred on the phone today, you said this and you added “St Andrew’s feels like home.”

It’s a garden afternoon. I realize that when we are home, communication is really important. In the summer, I love to be outside whenever I can and play in the garden. You are not a gardener and you can’t imagine how the garden can hold my attention for so long. To facilitate communication, I dig out the walkie talkies that you gone a few years ago.

As I garden and pull weeds, we chat over the walkie talkies. I smile at the thought of the frequency being open to eavesdroppers. I wonder what they think as we converse. Chris and Terry come over and hang out with you on the Sunday deck. Soaking up the sun that you have been deprived of all these past months in the hospital. I bet it feels good to feel the sun. The source of energy for life.

You soaked up a lot of sun. At the end of the day you looked a little crisp on the exposed body parts. At least only the burn on the right side actually hurt!

Monday May 3 – A No Quit Day

You smoked first thing this morning. The slippery slope continues.

OT and PT come to see what you will need for your home based therapy. Details are discussed but the process seems to go very slowly. After waiting so long to get you home, I want things to move yesterday.

With the effort to stop smoking, we need to help you fill your time with other activities. I had hoped that some physio would be done today. But no. We will meet again in 2 weeks to train the homecare team, meanwhile they can not do these activities with you. I find this frustrating and counterproductive to you mental and physical wellbeing. Your days are very long since you have been home. It’s no wonder that you felt the need to ‘fill the unforgiving minute with’ … cigarettes.

The OT had discovered that there was a program for people with depression, at the mental health clinic. She is going to look into this to see if it is something that would be good for you now.

We see Dr. Feltmate. She gives you lots of sound advice. And a prescription for the nicotine patch. She says, quite wisely that you have to really want to quit smoking but you can’t wait until you are ready to quit. This may sound like a contradiction but it isn’t.

Nicotine has a strong hold over you. It’s voice is loud and clear in your head and it dominates your thoughts. I can see this from the outside but you can’t see it. The voice manipulates you into thinking that you need to smoke. It is brain washing you. You try to pick fights with me to fuel an excuse to smoke.

You visit Donald today. It’s been two weeks since you last saw him. Donald seems lost in his own world. He doesn’t lighten up like he used to. It saddens you to think that you are losing a friend.

After much discussion about the patch, you decide to get the prescription filled. I was so pleased that I even threw in a 4X4 coffee. You wanted more … an unicorn charm to symbolize the effort that you are putting forward to quit smoking. You want the charm now so that you will stop smoking, I want to wait and see if you can do it before we mark the occasion with a charm. You are angry that I wouldn’t cave to your demands.

We strike a deal. After the children are in bed, I took you outside to smoke your last cigarettes. At bedtime we place the nicotine patch on your right arm. As I put on the patch, I pray to myself that it will help you.

Tuesday May 4 – One Patch and Several Cigarettes.

It was a tough day today.

It is stroke club day. It starts at 10 am and goes to 2 pm. You drive into work with me and the Accessibus comes to pick you up from the animal hospital. While you were waiting for the bus, you went to the handicap fitted washroom. I gave you a buzzer to call me when you were done. The system would have worked well except that you thought that you could transfer to your chair yourself. You wanted to help out and make my life easier. The transfer started OK but ended badly because one of the wheelchair brakes were off. You fell and tightly wedged your body between the toilet and the wall. There you lay pinned between the two and unable to reach the buzzer.

My coworker, Sophie, heard your panicked calls and came to get me out of the appointment. You were very shaken up and felt sore and even more helpless then you did before. Your response to this stress was to want to smoke. You have the patch on.” I point out. You don’t care. “I have to smoke.” You say.

I try to explain that the voice of addiction is so powerful that it talked you into doing something you were not able to do and now the voice wants you to feed it with a cigarette. “This is not your choice this is the addiction’s choice.”

Thanks to Sherilyn and Cecelia, they help me calm your fears and help me convince you to go to the stroke club.

After you left, I tried to get my head back into my work. Thankfully, the clients I saw this morning were so nice and understanding. I got a lot of emotional support from them that fed my soul and built it up. One of my clients, who is retired, even offered to help out with you needs and she doesn’t even know you!

I think that this is one of the many advantages of living in a small town. People instinctively care about each other, they don’t even have to think about it. Caring is a natural instinct that just happens. I think that this quality of human nature is lost as the size of a community increases.

When you came back to work, I asked how your day was. “Are you going to be mad at me?” you ask. Oh no, my heart sinks. I know where you are going with this. You bought more cigarettes and smoked a couple of them with the patch on. I’m sad and disappointed. I don’t know what to say to help you through this torment.

I feel your failure. I know that the ‘real you’ is hiding in your mind. The real Chris wants to quit and take charge but the voice of addiction is strong and overpowers you voice. You are not ready to quit and I am powerless to combat the addiction for you. Only you can do this.

I’m on call tonight and I got called in at dinner time and again later in the evening. At dinnertime, I say, as I leave, “Quinny, you are in charge and it would be lovely if the dinner dishes can be cleaned up after everyone is finished.” When I get home the kitchen is abuzz with activity. Spearheaded by Tara, the dishes are cleared away, the dishwasher loaded and the food put away. “Wow, what teamwork!” I marvel at my family.

Tara worked on her homework and you and Quinn read together. To me, this picture looked almost as it did one year ago. It felt comfortable and familiar. This moment may have seemed ordinary on the surface but it felt very special to me.

At the children’s bedtime, I got called into work again. You want me to take you outside so you can smoke, but I convince you to get settled in your chair in the mancave while look after the sick kitty.

When I get back, you had found the Angels game on the TV and fallen asleep. I don’t have the heart to wake you, because I know if I do, you will want to go outside to smoke. I let you sleep until bedtime.

Wednesday May 5 – The Addictive Voice

The addictive voice is powerful and loud. It dominates your brain and out shouts the other voices in your mind. I regard the addictive voice as a mistress. The other woman. She wants to steal you away and destroy you and our family. I can’t let that happen.

Until recently I didn’t even know ‘she’ was there. Now, I have to get used to the voice whispering empty promises in your ear and manipulating you so you won’t listen to your own true voice.

“I am here, I am here.” You said about a month ago. That was before the smoking got hold of you again. I feel powerless to help you find your own true voice. Sadly, I think all I can do is be supportive. When I hear a peep come out, I try to help draw it out more. Weak peeps like: “I want to eat blueberries.” And stronger peeps like “I want to run again.” And “I don’t want to die.”

Tonight, you wrote a little write up for the church newsletter. In it, you describe the gratitude you feel towards the people of the church – your friends and your family. You ask for forgiveness for your dishonesty. You say that you aspire to be the person that they thought you were.

I am touched by your words and realize that in a small way this is part of your recovery.

Thursday May 6

Today you are grateful that I’m not giving you a hard time about going outside to smoke. It’s raining today, so I wheel you out to the garage to smoke. You swear to me that you will find the strength to quit.

Ann drops by with a chicken dinner for us. She sees you in the garage smoking. You know Ann from the church and care what she thinks of you. You apologize about the smoking and that you smell like smoke. You tell her of the offer that Rev Jay had given you. A position at the church.

Last Sunday, when Jay told you about his idea of establishing a library for the congregation, you were lukewarm to the idea. Since then you have warmed up to the idea. You tell Ann about it. You would have a job, a purpose and be able to get out and meet people. The pay is the satisfaction of making a difference.

Since Sunday, you have brought up the idea with different people as if bouncing the idea off of them to see how it would fit you. You are a little concerned about the actual job part. The met and talk with people part will be the easy part. I told you that even wanted change is difficult at times. The change that you have experienced recently certainly qualifies you for the change part but you wonder if you are qualified to run a library.

Tonight, when you tell Ann about the church library, you say “I will do it because I need to do something.”

Friday May 7

Quinn lost his extra tooth. Quinny was bless with an extra baby tooth and as it turns out, an extra adult tooth too. I think Tara is a little jealous that the tooth fairy will get to visit him an extra time. I advised her that it’s not that great because one of the extra teeth has to be taken out by a dentist and we have to pay the tooth fairy for it!

Quinn says his mouth feels different. “Change is strange” he summarizes. “As you grow, you have to get used to changing body parts.”

As you grow… I should have said as you age. Change is strange

You enlightenment of the day you share with the homecare worker. “If you put ‘cluster’ in front of any swear word makes it sound so much better.”

I spend the first part of my day at my psychologist. I asked about the tendency to fixate on things. Perseveration, she called it. I noted that you often get stuck on the subject of smoking. I wanted to learn more about how to deal with this behaviour.

She suggested that my role is to keep you safe. If I make a stink about smoking, then it just becomes more of a topic for you to fixate on. If I drop it and take a casual approach to it, then you may be able to move to something else and it will be easier for you to let go of the habit.

“Build trust” she said. “Let him go outside and smoke.” The thought behind this is if you get outside when you want, then you may not smoke so many cigarettes at a time. She said. “When the topic of smoking comes up, just change the topic.

Hopefully the fixation will end. “Usually, this happens in about six weeks.” Of course that is in the non-stroked mind. I am not going to hold my breath. I can’t imagine you letting go of the subject in the near future.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Friday April 30 – The Nicotine Headache

You woke with a headache today. This causes you some anxiety. You worry about another stroke, I worry that it is due to nicotine withdrawal. A few cigarettes later, and we have a winner. The nicotine does of the cigarettes ‘treated’ the headache.

Janice and Emma came to visit while on a mission to find a prom dress. Janice gives you the tough love talk. The type of talk that only a good friend can give. She points out that you are not the only one ‘trapped’ because of the stroke. As I am listening, I am wondering who else do we know who is trapped as a legacy of the stroke. Then I hear “Gwen is trapped too. She can’t go anywhere or do much because of my commitment to you and your recovery.”

I don’t feel trapped. I haven’t felt trapped by your stroke. If I did, I would feel a burden. I never want things to get to the point where I feel trapped. The day I feel trapped, is the day that you will fell like a burden.

Monday is your quit day. You have an appointment to see Dr. Feltmate to see if she could help.

Thursday April 29 - From Six to Twelve

Six cigarettes yesterday. Today it will be twelve. You are back up to your pre-stroke level of smoking. I change tactics on you.

“What would you do if I engaged in risky behaviour that could leave you a widow and forced to raise our children single handedly? How would you feel about that?” I look at you intensely. You won’t look at me like I am scolding you. I answer for you, “You haven’t had to think about that possibility, because you had the stroke. While you were so ill and near death I did think about it. I thought about being a single parent constantly and I was very scared.”

When I told Tara the other day that you starting to smoke again. Tara was shocked and scared and sad all at the same time. The expression on her face haunts me just like the image of you smoking out on the deck. Our children need two parents. You have to remember that you are a father. It's ’he most important job in the world. And what is more important, I know that you love being a Dad. Start acting like a father and think about your family.”

You are quiet and want to go to bed early. I think that my talk has made you think. I think that I need time to get used to the idea that you are a smoker and you need time to adjust to our new life.

Just before bedtime, you played ball with the children. It was nice to see this interaction. I guess that we will just have to see how this is going to play out for you.

Wednesday April 28 - Six Cigarettes and a Three Page Letter.

I couldn’t sleep tonight so I journaled. I emptied the bad thoughts out and tried to find my way to peace. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to say to help you see the your self-destruction.

Last night, when we locked horns, I said, I knew that it would be best for our family if you didn’t smoke, but I knew that I couldn’t make you stop. I am so frustrated. I don’t know how to get you to want to quit smoking. Well actually I could make you stop but it wouldn’t be your decision and it would be a rather poor basis of our relationship. I plan to call your psychologist to see what her advice is in the morning.

I awoke again at 4:30 am. I am angry. I know it is redirected anger. I am really angry at myself for falling for the mulligan ploy. I should have known better. Now, the nicotine is finding a home in your body and once it settles in … it will never want to leave.

My anger turns to the NSRC. I lay in bed for about 2 hours thinking of all the issues that I have with the NSRC. I spent the next few hours writing a letter about our experiences at the rehab. It was a long letter and covered a lot of areas of heartache. I figure that if I am going to be angry, then I should use it for Good not Evil. Even redirected anger is better directed at the people or person who is best suited to make a difference.

I carefully compose a three page letter. I make various suggestions and hope that it will not fall on deaf ears.

In the morning, I called your psychologist at the NSRC. She is very understanding but also somewhat useless with advice. “You can help him go outside and smoke or you can make him do it himself and he might get hurt. There is no right or wrong answer.” Either way you are hurting yourself. She suggests a compromise. “You could give him coupons for trips outside and allow him to trust you so that he is not stressed about when he is going to get outside again.” I like this idea. It could limit the number of cigarettes that you smoke in a day. I promised to try this and we discuss how you get fixated on things and how best to help you get past something that you are stuck on.

By the end of the day you smoked six cigarettes.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Tuesday April 27 – Lose the Battle … Win the War?

The psychologist said, “Don’t make smoking a battlefield.” So instead I have tried both logic and feelings to explain the negative impact that smoking has on our family. I have even shamelessly tried manipulation. I have lost every time. I don’t know what to do to any more.

I even ask you what I should do. “I want to do the right thing for our family and I believe that is to get you to want to stop smoking.” I say to you. “What should I do to do the right thing?”

I could physically prevent you from smoking. That’s not my first or my second or my twenty-ninth approach, but I did try it too and that just led our conversation to an argument and from an argument to silence. It didn’t work.

I tried bargaining with you over the tattoo. “Wait 29 days of no smoking and then get it.” I suggest. You wouldn’t take me up on it. I refused to help you outside. You tried any way. I was right behind to pick you up off the ground. You were shook up but you still wanted to smoke.

You said on the weekend that you wanted a mulligan for a day. Then it was two days. Now it’s been four days of smoking, one cigarette for the last three days and two today. By enabling your mulligan, I have allowed the slippery slope to take over.

I should have never caved to your way of thinking. Your logic sounded good at the time. You said that since you never chose not to smoke eight months ago, then allowing you a mulligan will enable you to officially choose not to smoke. I am mad at myself because I knew that the best defense to not smoking was that you had a streak going. Now the streak is gone, your willpower is gone.

You think I hate you. I try to explain that I don’t hate you … I hate the smoking. There is a big difference. I never knew you as a smoker. I knew you as a wonderful father and friend and husband. That is who I love and who I want you to be now. You created expectations for me by concealing the smoking. I don’t think of you as a smoker.

The mental image of you with a cigarette in your hand or hanging from your mouth is burned into my mind now. I can’t shake the picture loose. I don’t like the picture and I pray that Tara and Quinn never see you like that.

I have to give you credit. We agreed last week that there would be no smoking in the house. When I refused to take you outside to smoke tonight, you could have lit up in the kitchen ... but you didn’t. And last night, when I was especially stressed out about Mum not doing well in the hospital, you choose to be a wonderful husband and said that I should go see Mum and you promised to stay in bed and not smoke while I was gone. You were true to your word.

Why do I hate smoking so much. Maybe because my Father smoked a lot. I believe that the cigarettes robbed his mind from us in the last years before his death. I don’t want our children having the same experience with their Father.

Monday April 26 – First Homecare Day

Today was the first day of the official homecare. The worker you had today was very nice, but her hands were somewhat tied. She wasn’t able to do much with you. It’s no fault of hers or yours. It’s the system. Until a bath assessment can be done, she can’t get you showered. Until the PT and OT train her and her colleagues they are not allowed to perform any therapies. The homecare worker has to be creative to find things to do with you that are helpful.

In the afternoon, you visit Donald. His 90th birthday will be in July. He is tired and seems a little confused. You are saddened by this. I understand how you feel. It’s hard seeing a good friend shrink away from living.

As we leave you stop to talk to another resident. He is your age and has been in the long-term care facility for many years. He has seen a lot of people fade away over the years. He has known Donald for some time and has seen a difference too.

Some wise words come from you as the two of you talk. “What happens to you is up to you.” A long-term care facility would disable you further. I can’t image visiting you in this place with the children. I found it hard to visit my father as an adult, I can’t image what it would be like for children to visit their father in a nursing home like this.

There are moments that you think this is where you should be. No! I scream in my head. I couldn’t bare that. You have to be home with us. As long as it’s possible, I will do anything to have you home and give our children a shot at a normal family life.

I will no let you give up.

Sunday April 25 – We are Dominos … surrounded by Pillars

This morning is worse. You are very contrary. I had hoped that the mood you were in last night would have melted away by morning. It hadn’t. In fact, it got worse. Now you not only refuse the your medicines, but you don’t want me around you.

Tara tries her best to bring you out of the slump. She did an old Knock Knock joke that she made up when she was three. It always got a rise out of you. “Knock knock” “Whose there?” “Old MacDonald had a farm EIEIO.”

It didn’t work. She resorts to the internet to find jokes that might made you laugh. No luck. She gives up. Quinn starts on his approach. He lays beside you and cuddles and talks softly to you in soothing tones like a parent to their baby. “Quinn’s the only one who really loves me.” You say.

I felt desperate. I didn’t know what to do. I reached out over the phone. I though of the church and the people who have stood strong behind us all these months. I thought of them and reached out.

Within the hour, Janice and her husband, Les, were by your side. Les, a fellow baseball player from many years ago, gave you the type of pep talk that you would have loved if this were a baseball game. Janice sweet talked you into taking you medications. You rallied a little. A little while later, Hollis came to your side to try to bring you back to reality. He talked about you needing to realize that although the effects of the stroke really suck, life does go on and the sooner you comprehend this the better.

Later, in the afternoon, the minister from the church Jay and his husband, Marty, came to talk to you. After sharing thoughts and feelings with you Jay asked you to promise two things. The first was to remember that you are a member of a family. You have to let the needs of the others in the family come first. Part of your role is to be a giving person. Secondly, when you are frustrated about the things you can’t do, you should breakdown the problem and learn how you can do it in a different way that works for you.

You seemed much better after this talk. You even listen when I tell you about my worries and fears. I tell you that when you are good emotionally, I am strong and can take on the world. When you falter, I grind to a halt and cannot muster the energy to even think about the next step. I need you to be strong.

“You do have a choice … the bigger choice then anyone of us in the family can have. You can choose to be an inspiration or a burden.” These two paths are very different and they are determined by the little choices that you make. You can choose to be a smoker and a 4X4 coffee drinker and doughnut eater who refuses your medication. If you do then you will be an overweight, angry and depressed man who treats his feelings with cigarettes. No one will want to be with you. You will be a burden. OR You can made different choices that enable you to make the best recovery that you can make. You will be an inspiration.

The day ended pretty well. We talked and analyzed what happened to make the second 24 hours of your home life so hard. We both feel much better about the future and communicate and work things through.

We have to thank the outside support that came by our side today. They are the only reason that we got through it and are stronger for it.

Saturday April 24 – What are we going to be? Dominos or Pillars?

My lazy Saturday that I have been dreaming of for a long time, started out great. I had a shower and sat on the edge of the bed, contemplating whether to trim my toenails or not. Something that I have never ever given much thought to in the past, even before your stroke, but for some reason it seemed important to think about it today.

Today, the first day of being together again officially as a family and I’m thinking about my toe nails. Well the moment passed quickly, The phone rang. Whoever called didn’t stay on the phone to get an answer but Tara and I both picked up the phone to take the call. The result was that we were talking to each other on the phone … Rather odd since she was in the next room! She reminds me of all the things she has to do. There’s the birthday present and party as well as the choir practice this afternoon and the performance tonight. I sigh and cut the nails short as she rambles on. Then you pick up another phone and butt into the conversation. “Don’t forget I want to visit Donald, and go to the bank and the tattoo place. We need things for the fish and we have to registrat Quinn for baseball.”

The only thing I wanted to do today was to get groceries. We didn’t have time to do this.

It was a very busy day. I can’t believe we got through it. We very nearly didn’t. I started the morning by forgetting your wheelchair. When we registered Quinn for baseball, you had to walk into the building. Although it had a ramp, it wasn’t a well-designed ramp and the access to the ramp was not ‘mobility-impaired friendly’.

How crazy is that? A ramp built for the mobility impaired that the mobility impaired can’t get to. I was angry at the stupidity and wondered how often we would come across this situation.

We dropped Tara for the birthday party and Quinn at a friend’s place. When we got to Donald’s we realized that your wheelchair was broken. Your brand new wheelchair. The chair that we were forced to rent because the paperwork wasn’t done in time to get the chair that was ordered for you. Even though the staff at the NSRC had 14 weeks to make this happen. We still were forced to rent a chair.

My guess was that we had to wait for the wheels to be harvested off the wheel tree before the chair could be made. I was angry about this too. When I discovered this yesterday, I shoveled the anger under some other thoughts and tried to forget about it.

It didn’t work. When the chair broke, I couldn’t suppress my anger any more. It flew out of me. The anger that I’ve been keeping stuffed in all the corners of my mind comes springing out of my mouth.

You did what you usually do when I get stressed, you tried to make a joke of it and lighten me up. It usually works … but not today. Today, I had too much anger and even your best attempts to curtail it would have failed.

I took the chair to two local drug stores on town that deal with wheelchairs. I had hoped that someone there could fix it. Of course, it’s Saturday, the person who could fix the chair wasn’t there on a Saturdays. I tried calling the company in Halifax where the chair came from. They were closed. I left a searing hot message about the “piece of s… contraption you are renting us that you call a wheelchair”. I was still angry.

Thankfully, the lady who worked at the local Lawton’s drugstore and homecare center, has a marvelous dog who is a patient of mine. When I saw her familiar face, I tried to explain the problem and finished by bursting into tears with frustration. She jumped into action and the next thing I knew was she dug out a wheelchair, just your size, that we could use over the weekend … at no cost.

My outburst of insuppressible anger affected you. I think you felt like you failed me by not being able to rally me out of my strong emotions, like you could always did in the past. You thought that you had lost another talent because of your stroke.

The whole chair ordeal ate up the afternoon. By the time we got to the tattoo place, there wasn’t enough time to get the tattoo. You were angry now too. Angry and sad and disappointed and you felt like you weren’t important enough to get the tattoo. Even thought I explained that the broken chair was the reason for the lack of time, you were convinced that I felt it was a low priority to me.

The fact that I never did get groceries today or visit Mum, who was moved to the Colchester Hospital yesterday, my only priorities, didn’t pacify you at all.

You wanted to smoke. A ‘mulligan’ you said. You explained it by saying that you never choose not to smoke. If you smoke now … for a day … then you can choose to stop tomorrow and the choice would be yours to claim. The logic appealed to me. I swallowed hard and against my better judgement, I took you outside. I half expected you to consider the idea and then back off and keep the streak. But you didn’t, you smoked. I caught a glimpse of you smoking. A very foreign gesture to me. I had never seen you smoke before and I was struck by the impression the image left me.

The cigarette didn’t help your mood. By bedtime you were sullen and not talking. You wanted to go to get early. You don’t want to sleep with me. You want to sleep in the hospital bed in the family room. I get you into bed. You refuse to take your bedtime medications. You want to force me to accept your choice about medications.

You want desperately to control something … anything you choose to smoke. For the first time I see you with a cigarette in your hand and you sit out side smoking. I felt physically ill thinking of the image.

Earlier this week before you came home, I talked to the children about the strength that a family has as a unit. I tell them about dominos and how when dominos are stood on their ends side by side. They are only as steady as their weakest member. “When one falls so do the rest.” I said. “What we have to be as a family is to be pillars that hold up the roof.” I point to a house as we drive by it with pillars supporting the roof eave. “Pillars hold up the roof. If one goes the remaining ones support the roof and if town go, the remaining pillars continue to hold up the roof.”

“When Daddy gets home it will be great and bad moments. During the bad moments, it will be hard to us to hold up the roof. The family. But we will be pillars because that’s the only way we can survive. Survive with the strength and support from each other.”
At the time of my little talk, I wasn’t convinced that the children really understood what I was trying to say.

I was wrong. Tonight, as I tuck Tara into bed. She is saddened with the news that you refused your medications. She hung her head in her hands as she sat at the edge of the bed. “We are dominos.” She repeated sadly. “We are all dominos.”

If this is going to be how the first day goes, how am I ever going to get through the rest of our lives? I pray that tomorrow will be a better day.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Friday April 23 – Coming Home and Inspiring Thoughts

There you were – waiting for me at the front door of the NSRC . I had said that I would come over right after my vet meeting at five. I got there five to five and you were waiting.
“I’m going to exercise and eat healthy … like blueberries.” You said smiling and reaching out to hug me.

As I pack up your things, you show me a poster. It’s the poster that you gave your PT. The Boston Marathon poster with the phrase ‘Greatness goes by many many names.’ “I don’t know why she gave it back.” You said sounding a little sad. “I was hoping that she would give it to someone to inspire.” I hugged you and said “I think she did ... she gave it to you!”

She gave it to you but with a few small changes. Beside the poster message “Greatness goes by many many names.” She wrote “Few can hope to ever run a marathon, Many can hope for happiness. My hope for you Chris is that you will be happy.” Below, she put a photo that she took of the whole family on St Patrick’s day. We were all dressed in green. All four of our heads are huddled together in a big family hug. Smiling and loving the togetherness of our family.

You were expected to only need 7 weeks of rehab initially, but you were there for 14 weeks. Double the stay. The NSRC team managed to do more with you then they initially thought that they could. We are thankful for all that they did. You had some pretty amazing team players at the NSRC.

One of the last things that I packed was a little magnet that the cleaning lady at the NSRC gave you during your second week there. The two of you had become friends and she gave you a magnet with the word ‘Believe’ stamped into it. I threw it into the bag as an after thought. As we were getting prescriptions from the nurse you spy your PT working late. You ask me to dig out the magnet. “There is someone I want to give it to.” You say. I find the magnet and hand it to you. You wheel up to your PT and palm the small magnet and reach out to shake her hand. “What’s this?” she said. “We already hugged.” When she realizes what you are up to, she doesn’t want to accept it. You insist. She agreed to keep it. And shook your hand.

The nurse had to find some other medications and we followed her to collect the last of the medication. When we get to the elevator, we meet with your PT again. She smiles and says “I know what I’m going to do with the magnet. I’m going to put the magnet on my locker door here ... it will inspire me.”

Mission accomplished. Your magnet will not only remind her of you but also that miracles do happen.