Orders Of The Day

October 17, 2011

Health, Mike

It’s Monday morning and as I face the new week I reflect on the old and wonder how to improve on it in the new week.  Yeah, I know.  It’s a weirdness I have, but there it is.  I expect I’m just never satisfied right?  I put on some music to think by…and not interested in listening to ballads this morning, I put on the soundtrack from Phantom.  The imagery is very distracting….the play keeps flashing through my mind.  Though I’ve seen it a few times while chaperoning chorus trips, Mike has only seen the movie.  And he loved the movie.  Maybe for our anniversary in June I’ll take him to the city and we’ll see Phantom and head for home before the stimulation of the city becomes too overwhelming.  (Maybe by June overstimulation won’t be an issue and we can make it a weekend. )

A conversation with Mike last night has decided the biggest part of the improvement plan for this week.   As we crossed off October 16 on the calendar and reviewed the day/date Mike (as usual) allowed as how it couldn’t possibly be Sunday, October 16.  We had reviewed Sunday the 16th of October when he got up, when we went over the email and sites in his iPad, when he reread his birthday cards and argued it wasn’t his birthday yet.  Feeling kind of exasperated that all my orientation efforts are futile and that he fundamentally doesn’t believe anybody, I asked him why he thought it couldn’t possibly be Sunday.  The answer was simple.  We didn’t go to church.  I reasoned…well, we didn’t go to church because you slept in past noon.  Not good enough.  It’s not Sunday.  We didn’t go to church.  DUH.  Now why didn’t I think of that?????

As I reflect on it, in Mike’s world growing up, if it was Sunday you went to church.  There were few acceptable excuses.  For Mike, going to church on Sunday would be as natural as brushing his teeth or saying the ABC’s…one of those things  so automatic, that they don’t go completely away with a brain injury.   And it’s those automatic things the therapists built upon when the injury was new as I seem to recall.  They started with ABC’s, 123’s, name, birthday etc to start to jog his memory and build successes when he was first injured. 

We went to church one Sunday morning early on after his discharge but the length of the service was too much for him.  I think he could handle it now.  Melanie was taking him to vespers on Saturday nights…we thought the length of the service would be perfect…but I expect it didn’t fulfill that Sunday habit and perhaps confused him more  as to day of the week.  Over the years after he left his parents home, the lull of sleeping in on Sundays was always greater than getting up for church.  It bothered him…but not enough to get up early.  As a result, going to church was relegated pretty much to major holidays.  Well, now he wants to go to church.  It seems the brain injury has taken him to a place where the automatic overrides his personal preferences.  Maybe it will also help him to orient to day/date.  At least I can use it with the calendar and the rest of the tools.  We can hinge our week on church and all days coming after build up to church.  It’s a start.  (And arguably, a really good place to start for many reasons!)  He agrees he will need to get out of bed early.  I’ll let you know next Sunday how that works out for him. 

We spent a lot of time on the iPad yesterday.  He read emails and responded briefly to one.  He visited the Facebook site for his old Navy ship.  He has been in contact with a bunch of these guys over the last few years and there were some old photos of him there.  There were a few updates on his health from when I had written to one of the guys, another a post asking if anybody had a recent update.  He did his own update to that one.  He truly enjoyed that FB page and the photos of all the different guys, trying to spot his own and to see if he recognized others.  Many names and faces he did recognize.  He particularly enjoyed the photos with the girls (“professional guides”) in the PI.  I giggled as I recalled the devil of a time he gave the various nurses he had in the hospital who were Phillipino.  OY.   

One photo, from last summer’s reunion in PA, showed him in a pair of shorts, sans shirt, and quite a bit bigger than he is now  (87 1/4 pounds bigger!).  He thought he looked much better on that photo than he does now.  (He doesn’t) In truth, though he’s on the lean side, the problem now is that he lacks muscle tone.  And, he has no butt to fill out jeans so they hang on him.  I’m going to have to find a strength/muscle building program that doesn’t involve lifting weights because he still has a weight restriction.    I suppose that means that in spite of my distaste for exercise I will be forced to engage in it.  UGH.  I also suppose it’s in my best interests so I should just shut up, get on with it, and quit my bellyaching as my dad would have advised.   So!  The plan of the day…for every day this week…the usual and customary boring stuff, add exercise…work up to church on Sunday and continue with orientation. 

HAH!  When I got Mike up just now he asked why…what did he need to do…he wasn’t ready to get up.  I told him the plan of the day for today and he informed me I couldn’t order him around,  he was a Petty Officer. I laughed at him, and told him yeah, true…but I’m the rear admiral on this ship buster so snap to sailor!  Outta bed.  He found this endlessly amusing but did get up (I wish I had paid attention when he used to wake the kids up with some sailor stuff that they heard when they got woken up I guess in boot camp…I’d tape it and play it every morning.  He’s most in tune with the discipline and order of his Navy days so who am I not to capitalize on it right???  ) It seems his foray to his Navy days yesterday made an impression that has lasted.  LOL   And now, as he has finished his coffee, I reckon it’s take a walk time.

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3 Comments on “Orders Of The Day”

  1. Dann Bennett Says:

    The P.O.D. (Plan Of the Day) is a good idea.
    The revelry call would sometimes include: “Roust-out, Roust-out. The sun’s burning your bloody eyes out!”.
    Marty Goetsche and Steve Dalton took DOZENS of pics at the Kinzua r/v. Some at the campsite, and many on and of the houseboat. Perhaps if you contacted them, they could share some w/you and Mike.
    Thank you for taking care of our shipmate. When things get to be overwhelming; close your eyes; quiet your mind, and tap into the love and strength that is being sent to you.


    • rsmallen Says:

      Hi Dann and thanks for reading and caring about Mike’s progress! No thanks necessary for taking care of Mike. He has been the kind of husband for 32 years that took care of all of us. He’s due…and it is wonderful to be able to give back to him. He’s the love of my life…we’re soulmates. I know it sounds corny but it’s true. He thinks the same. We’ve had ups and downs…but now it’s roses and sunshine all the time because we have been made aware of how tenuous life is…how fragile…and we value every second. It’s a shame it takes something horrible like this to realize it…but we’re grateful for the gift we’ve been given. As for morning revelry…I’ll be trying it out tomorrow morning. It’s an early day…and though he agreed to a 10:30 appointment, I know by tomorrow morning that agreement will be long forgotten.


  2. Dann Bennett Says:

    Talk to a Physical Therapyst (PT)about using an electro -stimulator for improving muscle strength. There are “non-professional” models available that are quite reasonable (if there is an insurance issue). To get the most out of them will require some input from the PT. Good luck and best wishes.


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