Welcome to the Aquarium

Journal entry October 1, 2006

Welcome to the aquarium:The eagle has landed, well…not exactly an eagle. At present more like a goldfish. Terry’s short term memory is shot. Like said goldfish he swims across the bowl turns around and it’s all new to him. He is now living only in the present. If he knew you before he knows you still. If he just met you, you will have to be reintroduced three minutes from now. Needless to say we are working very hard on helping him make those missing neural connections.

On the white board on the wall in his very nice room I have written out: ” I am in Olympia, I am in St Peter’s rehab center. I had an accident with my motorcycle in Montana. I hit a deer on 9/13/2006.” I remind him to read it every now and then. He can read, its halting, but he can do it most of the time.

This is all very odd and heartbreaking, he can carry on a perfectly lucid conversation, but if some piece is missing his mind supplies the missing piece out of some abstract memory which results in some unfortunately hilarious answers. I have every hope that the course in miracles will continue and he will begin to recapture those missing bits of his brain. I told him he now has the first valid reason ever not take out the garbage–he literally cannot remember.

Christmas should be easy too–I can give him the same present every three minutes and have a wonderful money saving holiday.  If I couldn’t laugh and see the humor I think I would cry like a baby and I really don’t want to do that– so please bear with me and don’t be appalled at my blackly humorous take on all this. I am not cold or unfeeling. I love this man and I’m like a bear with one cub these days, I need to remember how to smile and laugh and trust God and myself and all of you and Terry, it will be okay.

The folks at St Peter’s seem to be very nice, very dedicated and focused on rehab. I cannot leave him alone for a couple or reasons–number one, he pulls his C spine collar off. If I tell him his neck is broken he says he understands, looks me in the eye and yanks it off. This means all night long as I try to sleep in the chair next to his bed I listen for that velcro rip, jump up and explain it again, and again, hoping it will stick this time.

I am so looking forward to the help everyone has offered and I hope by Monday to have a central coordinator for “sessions” with Terry. I am finding I cannot do it all–right now I am caught up in just unpacking and getting myself reoriented to home after 16 days away–and still trying to be at the hospital half the time. Torin is trying to cope but I know he is shocked and scared and trying to grow up really fast.

I have stacks of mail to go through, thank heavens most of it garbage, but having to figure out the insurance, the paycheck, the bills, and Terry’s side of our life is all consuming.  I am deeply grateful to everyone who has stepped up and offered to help with Terry so I can actually get some stuff done.

Last night I was at the hospital with Torin and Terry and I got about three hours sleep. He slept soundly until midnight and then tossed and turned and kicked off the covers and got sideways in the bed and had to go to the bathroom and, and, and, until 3:30. I will warn you Terry sitting is not for the faint of heart. He is better at walking every day but still he is a little out of it as far as remembering to tell someone he has to go the bathroom. If you are not a strong person and you want to sit with him–make sure you know where the nurse’s call button is. I just sit him up and haul him off myself, I don’t even use the big white strap they gave me, that’s just too much like carrying a refrigerator around on my back. Having raised four boys, this is just sort of déjà vu on a big scale. Please feel free to scream over sharing–but this is the true story of TBI, traumatic brain injury. It’s not pretty, fluffy and romantic like in the movie 50 First Dates. It’s a grinding minute by minute process and remaining positive is the key. If this man can be yanked back into the world by just strength of will it’s a done deal.
Each night seems to be a bit easier as he gets his days and nights sorted out. Physically he is doing really well. It’s looking like he may have re-chipped an elbow that was already giving him trouble and his ribs and back keep him miserable no matter what position he’s in. He’s doing remarkably well and I have hopes that this is a trend that will continue. 

Keep those prayers revved up, we need all the help we can get!

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