Today was one of the hard ones. I don’t usually cry during my visits. But I found myself overcome more than once today. Maybe the fact that I had a bad a dream about Vernon in the night started me off on some deeply emotional footing. I can’t remember the specifics of the dream, but he was supposed to arrive after a couple days of driving from another state. And then he didn’t, nor did he call. And I waited and became more and more anxious… and after four days he still hadn’t arrived and I didn’t know where he was. That was the dream as I remember it—not a great one.
At first, when I stopped by Vernon’s new room this morning, I was happy because it was empty. I was sure he had gone off to the rehab room, just as he often had in mornings at Kindred. I turned the corner to the nursing station and there he was…hanging out in a reclining wheelchair in the middle of the hallway. The young charge-nurse, Ivy, introduced herself and told me he’d been brought out of his room so she could keep an eye on him as he’d been sliding out out his bed too many times. So much for isolation.
I can understand his frustration. He was a pretty active guy before, a keen cyclist…on road and mountain. He played soccer on the weekends, but would have done it more if he could. He was always independent, self-employed more often than not. He didn’t answer to many, and here he is, totally reliant on anyone who can help him (most of them strangers.) He keeps talking about needing to get up, to go to the bathroom, to get up and move around, if just for an hour. ANYTHING. He wants some freedom.
But like I said in the last post, transitions are a big deal. And he was moved on a Friday. That means no physical or speech therapy till the workweek, and every day without those, Vernon gets less focused in his mind and more tight in his limbs. The setback was very clear today. I was disappointed that no one was planning to assess him for therapy till this evening. Vernon was chatty, but very confused. As I signed a large stack of entry-papers in his presence, I tried to engage him in conversation while explaining to the staff some of his recent idiosyncrasies. I know he is at the point where he doesn’t like being talked about as if he is not in the same room. That’s a good thing, I think. Most people don’t.
I felt the need to explain his current state to various people through the day, so that they would be better at caring for him. I know its a hospital and obviously, I’m not exactly shy about sharing information, but I found it disheartening after awhile. The sense came over me that I could be doing this for a very long time.
All the great progress he was showing last week seemed so distant today and he seemed so confused and agitated. It seems that he can be calmed down as long as he is told what is going on. When he was taken to the dialysis center, he was more beside himself than I had seen him. I realized this was a big day for him. This was the first time he had been taken out somewhere in the daytime, and on top of that, it was to a bright center filled with people on recliners being dialyzed. It might have been an office building for all the bustle and sense of purpose in that place. He made constant, anxious demands so I tried to explain to both the nurses and my husband what was going on, as if I was some sort of interpreter. The overseer, Michelle, was wonderful with us, and suggested Vernon be given some Benadryl to settle him in a little.
I laughed a little as I know that is what people often give young children to calm them down on long flights. This was not lost on me as when I left him, I felt like a parent leaving an overstimulated child at the daycare. As I looked back through the window, I could see he was looking around for something familiar, but he was calming down. Sometimes it is better just to leave. They told me that if he doesn’t settle down and get the hang of it, a family member will need to be with him through these sessions. This was pretty hard to take as his sessions are during school pick-up and there is no other family member nearby at the moment but me. But I have a feeling he will get the hang of it.
I just wish we could jump through these next days and be into the next week or two when he is in a kind of routine.
I keep thinking life is going to get easier, but today gave me the sense that at least for a little while, its about to get a whole lot more challenging…for both of us.
BUT there is always magic to be found…if not in the very room, then just around the corner—which is where I discovered a dusty midcentury-antique store that’s been nestled in a funny little parking lot for 30 years. What a great distraction, what a great place to get lost in for awhile. Here are some stolen pictures. See if you see any beatnik-ghosts. There were certainly a few of them trapped in there.
I did buy a small turquoise pinkie ring and went back to show Vernon. “Look at the ring you bought me, Darling. Thanks!”
He looked at it and approved. “That’s gorgeous, Gorgeous.”
“Thanks. I picked it out myself. I hope you don’t mind. You weren’t there, but you would have loved this place.”
“Well, its what I would have picked out for you if I had been there.”
We can do this.