Giving Thanks

We’re a few days post Thanksgiving and this year was special indeed.  Instead of the usual looking toward Christmas, pining over kitchen “emergencies” with the meal, we were just truly grateful to have been given yet another year with Mike.   It’s also the last time Cam might be able to have Thanksgiving with us for a while…he leaves for the Marines in only five weeks. 

Yeah, I got my usual holiday meal grumpiness.  Geez.  I hate all that cooking and mess.  There’s just too much to do…I really think we should just be eating out.  One of my lovely children wondered if I could afford that.  Well, yeah….for Mike and me!!  I wonder if they think it is my responsibility to provide those holiday meals for a heap of people.  Maybe it is and some fundamental part of my maternal makeup is missing.  I expect it’s not the only missing part.  But the fact remains, I don’t feel it is my obligation to provide for the whole lot of them.  It’s nice to be all together, but I am very, very tired and truthfully, not feeling all that great.   I’d love it if we could all just go out to eat and everybody paid their own way.  Really, maybe I could afford it for everybody!  The tab at the grocery store was unbelievable!

Mike took it all in stride.  I am not sure the holiday idea really has sunk in.  Last night it may have been more apparent to him that it is the holidays.  We took the dogs out about 8 and sat on the front porch.  Since we have had unusually warm weather for November (and the whole world seems intent on getting the turkey day deco down the morning after and the christmas lights on immediately upon decommissioning Thanksgiving deco) we looked about our development and saw Christmas decorations everywhere.  Mike seemed able to relate them to the Christmas holidays and that it is about the time of year for it and laughed when I said since our house was the only house without them people coming into the development might think we are Jewish.   (BTW, I have no intention of putting outdoor lights up.  I have enough to do in a days time.  The best way to cure a headache is not to give yourself one in the first place!)  I am thinking maybe we will have to go out at night more often during the Christmas season and review the date in the presence of Christmas lights.  Perhaps it will help with the orientation process! 

It’s been kind of odd with Mike lately.  I can’t quite tell what is happening inside his brain.  I think circuits are starting to fire…it’s like when you have to prime a pump and bleed it first to get the air out so it will start to pump.  Strange stuff….out of nowhere.

For example. 

A couple nights ago he was on the couch watching tv and I looked over to see a look of incredulity on his face.  He was shaking his head and told me he just couldn’t believe it.  When I asked what he couldn’t believe, he told me  “that we are finally here at home and that all this is ours!”    I assured him it was all ours…and wondered where he thought we had been?  “Up there” he responded.  I couldn’t fathom where he meant, but since we had been at the Wilkes Barre VA earlier in the day, I asked if he thought we were still there.  He told me “yes, on the turnpike in New Jersey.”   We talked of having been in Wilkes Barre and for the remainder of the evening, until he got very tired at bedtime and somewhat confused, he was eerily clear.  It was like before the brain injury.  I can’t explain it…or why…only that he was extremely clear and lucid.  Even his eyes looked clearer and not as flat. 

Or the morning recently when Mikey went down to help him to dress and wash for the day.  He remarked to Mikey that “it must be hard having a dad like I am now.”  Mikey told him “Not at all.  You are the strongest man I know because you fought death three times and won.  I am happy to help you now and glad you are with us.”   Last night I had him empty the dishwasher.  I’m intent to find him useful, simple things to do at home to increase his sense of contribution to the family so he won’t feel like a burden or useless…and to help him to become as self sufficient as he can.  I worry terribly about how he will be cared for if something happens to me.  Like when we prepare our children for the wide world without us, I feel like I need to prepare Mike to face the wide world without me just in case. Anyway.  He was very successful in emptying the dishwasher with only a minimal amount of queueing necessary.  A month ago it was a near impossible task even with queueing.  Now he remembers some things which tells me his short term memory isn’t totally gone…he is learning which is all built on memory.  I chose to speak to him about his comment to Mikey and pointed out that in saying that he must think he is somehow a burden to us.  He looked troubled and said sometimes he did.  Well, I set him straight on that notion quickly…telling him of a conversation Mel and I had when they asked me yet one more time to DNR him in the hospital.  I told her I wasn’t sure what he would want under the circumstances.  She said she knew he wouldn’t ever want to be a burden on anybody.  I knew instantly then, what the answer would be.  No DNR.  He would never be a burden on any of us…we wanted him alive and with us and could deal with whatever we needed to…and it wouldn’t be a burden ever.  I asked him if he knew what that all meant?  His response?  “That I have people who care for me.”  You bet you do Mike!  You bet you do!!

Last night when we went to bed was rather peculiar.  Let me say that all night Mike didn’t sleep well.  He was restless and awake a lot.  At one point he was shaking me to wake me wondering if I was ok because I was making noises.  When I asked what noises he said I was saying “oh, oh, ohhhhh”.  No doubt fussing over the stupid dogs hogging my bed and leaving no room for my legs which had undoubtedly stiffened up…and was doing it in my sleep.  I assured him I was ok, but he kept a kind of wakeful vigil anyway.   But the most interesting thing was right before we turned out the lights.  he pulled my arm under him and held my hand tightly and directed me to “say that prayer I always used to say”.  I was like, “out loud?” and he said yes, like you used to.   I asked what and who he wanted me to pray for and he responded with “Us”.  I prayed out loud.  Satisfied, he squeezed my hand, pushed it away and went to sleep.  I’ve never prayed out loud.  Mike has never been much of a prayer.  I dunno.  I can only say God is a big part of Mike’s survival and recovery…the doctors invariably tell me it was God and it was a miracle.  God continues to be a big part in his progress…and is working on his heart and mind in many ways.  I have no other explanation. 

There’s a single approved speech therapy appointment and a new request has gone to Highmark for approval.  If they don’t approve we will be driving to Wilkes Barre twice a week for VA provided speech therapy.  I liked what I saw when we were there…the speech therapist seemed very good.  I am anxious for him to be able to work with him.  The drive is onerous…about 65-70 miles north up the turnpike…tolls, gasoline…and winter driving conditions will begin so I am not enthusiastic about having to do it during the winter.  Do it I will, however, since I think they can help him. 

Mike’s old bedsore is opened (and closed and opened) again (and again).  Evidently the tunnel that had existed did not close entirely.  It has tunneled outward and there is a small tunneled hole.  Since it was Stage IV, it is always Stage IV so even this minute hole/tunnel is now considered Stage IV.  It’s very difficult to keep it open and packed so it will heal.  I have appointments Friday and Monday…first with the nurse practitioner at the wound care center where she will reopen it with a curette.  Next, with the surgeon at the would care center on Monday a week to see if he will open it surgically to allow it to stay open and heal inside out.   Meanwhile, we’re back in the dressing business.  And the try to keep pressure off his butt mode.  I wish I could afford a Tempurpedic mattress to keep the pressure off it!  I guess I better save my pennies.    

Meanwhile, I am reminded.  Everything in our lives is going really well.  We have everything we need and more than most.  We’re together.  Mike’s getting better…he’s alive.  Nothing bad’s happening.  We are leading blessed and charmed lives.   And I am grateful.  So very grateful.

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