Tuesday, March 20, 2007

My cell phone rang insistently as I waited on my last customer at work.

Since Jim's accident, the cell phone and I have been inseparable. It is my one link between good news or bad news about my husbands state of health. Going back to work after 5 weeks of living at the hospital was wrenching. But, true to who I am, once there - I try to be totally devoted.

The continuous, shrill ringing of my phone, jangled my nerves as I fought to concentrate on answering my customers questions. It had rang a couple of times before. From the corner of my eye, I could see my daughter in law(also our office manager) walk quickly towards me with a phone in her hand. Handing me the phone with concern on her face she said, "Sue, It's your sister, about Jim. The hospital has been trying to get in touch with you."

I excused myself and looked towards my boss, standing off to the side. Without hesitation, he was by my side in an instant.

" Sue, you go take that. I'll take care of this gentleman."

Shooting him a grateful look, I took the phone from my daughter-in-law and said "Hello"

It was my sister, Patty. "Sue, the hospital has been trying to reach you. When they couldn't get you, they called mom and she called me. I knew you would be at work. Call them right away. Jim is talking!"

"What?" Was I hearing right? He hadn't said a word since he was first in a coma in January. In fact, we were not given much hope for his recovery, much less talking. Thanking my sister, I quickly dialed the hospital number and reached his therapist.

"Sue, I'm so glad they reached you. Jim's talking, hurry, get down here!"

Signaling my boss I was leaving, I ran to my car. Much like my ride to the hospital after my kids called to tell me Jim was seriously hurt, I don't remember the drive getting there. Upon entering the therapy area of the hospital, I could sense the excitement among the staff. Within seconds, the lady who called me to tell me the news, threw her arms around me and gave me a hug. " I couldn't wait to tell you. I was in his room and his music was playing. He seemed to enjoy it as he waved his hands to the rhythm. I asked him something and in a clear voice he said "I believe."

"What did he say?" I stuttered, looking at her in amazement.

He said, "I believe, and a few more small words. "

Still in awe, I looked past her and several other therapist and caught the smiling face of my husband, sitting in his wheelchair, very alert and aware of his surroundings. Walking towards him, his eyes focused on mine and his smile warmed me.

As much as they tried, the therapist could not coax another word from him that day. Although I longed to hear his voice, my heart was at rest, knowing he was back...and Our Mighty God, performed yet another miracle on our behalf.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

This week has been adjusting to a new schedule. Go to work, go to the hospital, go home, make phone calls, research brain trauma information and try to keep up with things at home.. There is some comfort in creating a routine. It may not be a routine I know or would choose, but it's somewhat predictable. After several weeks of riding the roller coaster of life and death...I will definitely take this.

Jim is working hard at learning to sit up, walk, talk and put thoughts to words. He is challenged everyday by his team of therapist at Select Hospital. It is so hard to see him struggle now, to do the simplest things that he did before, without any effort. The energy it takes to lift his foot up and move it a few inches to walk, is enormous. The sound of groaning radiates from his newly capped trach. This is the first sound I have heard my husband utter in almost seven weeks. I want to weep and laugh for joy at the same time. Sitting up straight and balancing the halo, while trying to concentrate on what he is asked to do, takes the grit of a prize fighter. My Jim has it.
The damage the fall imposed on his brain wants to rob the man who resides in the once muscled, refined body. I can see in his eyes, this will not happen without going to the mat to the finish.

It takes everything in me not to run and comfort him and make his therapy team stop imposing this new pain on him. But I mustn't. I can't. It's the only way to bring him back, to give him a fighting chance at a life , again. So I stand back, shifting my weight from one foot to the other, walking behind him, lest he see my tears. He always said 'I cry at the drop of a hat'. But this is not a 'drop of a hat'. This is gut wrenching pain. Not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. I want it to end, I want it to continue. Hurry, hurry...get it over with and let's get on with our life.

What will that life be? Only God knows. Maybe that's best. Today has enough to think about and deal with.

It is finally over, his therapist helps to put him back into his chair and wheels him to his bed for a rest. His body relaxes and his eyes close. I collapse into the chair next to the bed, feeling every bit as tired as if I did his workout.

The coughing racks his tired body, brought on by the activity and change of position. Respiratory nurse arrives with her bag of goodies to help him clear his airway. With time, sleep comes.

Looking out over the city through his window next to his bed, I see the sun fading over downtown. I know how it feels. Picking up my bag of mail, I've yet to go through, and throwing on my coat, I bend to give him a kiss goodnight. Eyes barely open, the smile of the man I've spent my last 36 years with, warms my heart and gives me the stamina to walk out the door and have hope for what tomorrow will bring.

Monday, March 05, 2007

45 days ago, my life, as I knew it, came to a screeching halt. I am now in the 45th day of my new one. My husband, Jim, fell down our basement steps, cracked his head, broke his neck and had a heart attack. The ICU ward of our local hospital became my new home for 4 weeks until we were sent to another local hospital to begin the slow process of rehab. He has a sustained brain injury.

I can't begin to tell you all the ways it has affected our(Jim, our kids and extended family) lives. I am just now awakening to realization that I have to plod a new life and a new way of living it.

Brain injuries take their own path. Unlike a kidney, stomach, or other vital organ injury, where you can be advised on the prognosis and what course the healing may evolve, the brain is so personal and complex, it defies boundaries and predisposed patterns. The term, "watching grass grow" was given to me early on in the injury by Doctors and medical staff. It hasn't left me, nor, has it proved to be incorrect. The progression of healing is found in the most minuit accomplishments; a smile, movement of a limb, a look, a blink. Everything could be something...or nothing.

I try to be thankful for every bit of hope we are given, knowing, it's a miracle he is alive. But now that he is in a stable condition, my mind is filled with the "what now?' questions.

I am thankful I have a "resting place" to go and take a breath. I go to the Rock, my source of comfort in the storm, my safety. All my hurt, confusion and anxiety, I lay at the feet of my savior, the Lord Jesus. I know, I must take residence there, in order to survive. I will survive.