Friday, July 31, 2009

Chris was a happy camper this morning when I went to visit him at the rehab centre. He had just been assessed by the staff and was just about to meet his Mom & Sister for Lunch in the cafeteria.

We went for a quick spin around the place and he seemed to be very pleased with his new surroundings. I suggested that he start racing his wheelchair against other patients down the huge stretch of hall on the Main floor...

to make a little cash on the side, he said, "set it up" :)

From what I understand the gameplan is for Chris to hit the ground running in a program that involves both Occupational and Physical Therapy that will build on his steady progress. He will have assigned professionals helping him to recover the skills that he'll need to take the next step.

This environment should have a more consistent feel than the hospital, although I was impressed by so many of the staff at the HSC who were really wonderful and made Chris feel important.

Hopefully Chris will get a phone by his bed within the next few days. If you would like to email me your number I can print out a call-list. Hopefully Chris will start making calls on his own which could mean that you might get one in the middle of the night :)

He gave me a quick call from his sister's cell last night..he acted all cool..
"Yeah hi it's Chris..what are ya doin? I moved today, yeah I'm out of the hospital..."
It was awesome.

If you would like to send Chris a message here is the email address (copy or click)
Apparently the volunteers will print them up and hand least that's what it said on the bulletin board.We'll get a folder for him to collect all of his messages and return addresses. Hope they have a good printer :)

Hopefully once he is ready,Chris will get on his laptop and start reciprocating. I have no doubt that he will feel his spirit soar once he discovers how many people he has pulling for him. Once he's back online with his blogmates, co-workers, family and friends, he'll feel re-connected.

We used to talk at length about how much intimacy and camaraderie you can actually extract from the cybersphere. For the past few years Chris has been ensconced in several venues of social networking on the Interwebs. He felt right at home teasing, discussing issues, exhorting and comforting others from all walks of life in different corners of the globe.

Chris has a natural effortless way of connecting with others. People sensed that he didn't have a huge bloated ego, a litany of complicated "issues", or a sketchy hidden agenda. He was quite discerning and selective, very loyal to those who earned it, he even withheld their secrets from moi!?..and yes I'm not proud of it but sometimes I'd prod and plead for the scoop but no way jose.

Chris made others feel safe...why am I telling you? You already know all of this.

So here he goes on to the next stage. We all fully expect Chris to surprise the experts again and make some impressive strides by Autumn. I am very hopeful that this stage of his recovery will be a very positive experience and that Chris will quickly regain his skills and strength...and so say all of us!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Yesterday when I went to the hospital Chris told me that I should have called ahead first because he might have already been moved to the rehab centre..

That is the power of positive thinking in action.

Chris was in good spirits and he told me that the physio dude is making him walk :) a few steps along the handrail! He said that it was exhausting and I reminded him that a few weeks ago I was excited to see him open his eyes

This just is how his sister described it today:
"I saw him in physio today and it was amazing. He is walking up and down a hallway using a modified walker (Instead of holding the handles with his hands, he leans his forearms on pads that are up to his armpit. His Physio walks behind him and holds the back of his pants for safety, but Chris is definitely doing the walking. He walks up and down the hallway, takes a short 2 minute break and then repeats. Today, he did it four times (back and forth X 4), which is one more time than yesterday."

I am trying to convince him that he needs to have his laptop so that he can receive e-mails from all of his friends..I could enlarge the font and he could even try tapping out a few replies. I'm also still trying to convince him to meet & greet more people which he said he could do when he gets to the rehab centre.

I have no doubt that Chris will be more positive when he gets out of the he sees so many people in various states of disrepair come and GO and it drives him crazy because he seems to think that they all get to go home!

His transfer could happen any day now so cross your fingers and toes.

I hope that people forgive me for not posting as often but Chris has stabilized and seems to be making slow/steady progress...good days and bad. I did mention that I wouldn't report on every visit because this could (will) take months and years.

My hope is that Chris will take over blogging about his recovery by Christmas..which might seem far fetched but why not? Besides my conjecture about how he is really feeling/thinking are like shadows on the cave wall.
I would love to know how Chris is following his thoughts down the rabbit hole.
I have witnessed moments of lucidity that overwhelm him, vanish, and reappear.

I miss Chris. He is my talk/rant/tease-about-anything-in-the-world guy. For years we have had weekly meetings where we yak about everything from fears & failures to world politics, religion, and complete utter bullsh*t..
do you know how few men have this luxury?
I knew how lucky I was and I never dreamed that I'd lose this. NFW!

I fully expected the two of us to maybe expire earlier than some because of our bad habits, but not for another decade. It's weird but I just assumed that he was going to be my for-sure "constant". It's only been two months but I have really felt the impact of this awful experience..
I know that this sounds selfish but we connected 30 years ago and that's a long time.

Chris and I took turns kicking each other in the ass when we did something stupid BUT we also congratulated and encouraged each other..
and when he patted me on the back it really meant something because I knew that he really cared.
So I want him to come back as far as he can. He is coming to grips with his predicament and I told him that he needs to fight for as long and hard as he can before he can know what his life will be like.
I remind him how amazing it is that we are even having a conversation!
But it is easy for me..I can just stroll off the ward and drive home.
I'm not THERE trying to piece together the enormity of reconstructing my LIFE.

I hope (how many times have I used that word on this blog?) that Chris finds the strength to keep this Sysuphusian ordeal of rolling the damn ball back up the hill. I have tried to imagine what rolls into his head when he wakes up in the morning. He tells me that he still can't believe that this happened..
neither can I..
and I hope that he knows how much we all want him to keep trying. I know that it might never be the same but I don't care.

It was his big heart, easy laugh, and goofy grin that won me over three decades ago. At the core Chris is a big mush who gave more than he took.
How many of "them" do you get to meet in this world?

Newsflash 9pm;

Chris is being transferred to the Rehab Centre Tomorrow Morning!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

As of yesterday Chris has officially (we are told) been moved to the top of the list to be relocated to a rehab centre. This cannot happen too soon for him, he is ready to go.

Chris & brother Gerry

Yesterday morning he seemed pleased with himself after having endured a 20 minute "encounter" with 5 doctors.

"When they asked me what year it was I said it 2009 :)."

Chris thought that they were being tricky because they acted so casual about the question..which btw he could NOT have answered correctly a few weeks ago.

I must confess that last week's grim pronouncement about his future by one of the Neurologists took the wind out of my sails.

Since then we have learned that not all of them share that dire prognosis...and here is the phrase that we've all been looking forward to hearing: it's too early to tell!

Which is exactly what we had originally thought.

Just so you know, Chris is still hesitant to have others visit, I don't think that he understands how much people want to see him or how far he has come.

Most of us think that it would be good for him to meet some old friends..recapture some images and faces ..reconnect more passages..stir some memories...we're working on it!

The best guesstimate for him moving is within a couple of weeks but let's hope that it happens rfn. It would be such a morale booster for Chris to get a change of scenery.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

This morning I found Chris parked in front of the hustle & bustle of the Nursing station. I told him that I needed to take some "upbeat" pictures to show everybody how he is doing.

Chris said...

We snuck out of his ward and went for another spin around the hospital.

Chris and I went out-of-doors for some fresh air but the weather wasn't very nice and the perpetual construction noise made us wonder whatever happened to the old Quiet Hospital Zone rules?

When a Bus showed up he told me to put him on it.
I said, "Hey Chris where do you want to go?"

On our way back I parked him in front of the admitting station and made him confess in a loud clear voice...

He thought that was funny :)

We arrived just in time for his physio session. With very little help Chris can now stand up straight for about 5 minutes..he did it 3 times. He can contract his "frozen" right hand into a fist and move his right leg around.
He was even tossing a squeeze ball around with one of the staff.

The news in the last posting was rough so I just wanted everyone to get a clearer image of who I see when I am visiting. Oh sure a lot of things are still muddled and confusing for him but we still have fun. Chris may have a long way to go but when I look back a few weeks, I can hardly believe how far he has come.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Yesterday, after 8 weeks of speculating and hoping that Chris would soon be moving on to the new stae of the art Rehab Centre near my residence, We all received a heartbreaking evaluation.

Last night we were told by a Neurologist with 26 years of experience that,

"Chris is unable to make decisions without assistance and guidance and his memory is significantly impaired to the point where he might never be able to live alone."

"Chris requires supervised 24 hour care. The doctor claimed that the MRIs, CTs, and Angio scans show that multiple strokes have damaged numerous areas of the brain which (they tell us) cannot heal."

"This part of the brain manages insight, judgement, reality and memory."

The Doctor is therefore recommending that Chris be transferred to a different facility, which offers long term care and treatment for patients with similar significant brain trauma/stroke injury.
I should add that the Doctor asked Chris "to prove her wrong".

Thank Goodness his sister was with him when he heard this. As you can imagine Chris was devastated. He knows/understands what is going on but I can't tell you if or how much of the enormity of it all registers. According to his sister he was understandably overwhelmed.

I went to see him this morning. I was hoping that we can somehow make something positive out of the fact that he will be getting out of the hospital.

This is depressing, terrible, news but we still need to spin it into something good for Chris to build upon. Chris needs to feel like he is getting ahead and moving forward. I have no doubt that Neurologists are accustomed to being proven wrong on a routine basis...we are talking about the human brain, and if anybody can prove them wrong it will be Chris.

Yesterday morning I was at the hospital (partly to check up on his Mom who is his vigilant guardian angel) and along with one of his sisters, we actually saw Chris standing with his physio! I remember thinking how fantastic it was to see Chris standing up.

This morning I stole him from his Mom and made her take a break. Then I brought him outside..I wanted to see how much of the situation had registered. Once we were alone he asked me to find a way to help him escape. Unfortunately Chris is still convinced that there is a conspiracy to keep him imprisoned.

He is also having some problems with the short term memory loss...which may be a small blessing in disguise because I could distract him by taking him on a half hour stroll of the labyrinth in the hospital. We eventually went back to his ward where he shaved (mostly by himself with an electric razor) and as the Orderly finished the hard to get spots, we joked about keeping a moustache..Chris seemed at ease. For a time I sat with him in front of the bustling Nursing Station and he appeared to be miles away and untroubled by his recent news..
I was afraid to talk and risk breaking his state of temporary tranquility.

Now I am still processing all of this..I want Chris to prove them wrong.. I know that it has only been eight weeks and at the same time it has been over eight weeks!! I suppose I had convinced myself that I wouldn't notice any real change for months as the brain healed? The fact that an experienced medical practioner made such a devastating evaluation of his future quality of life has me puzzled. I had lowered the bar far enough to make allowances for more time so I'm out of sorts now.

This opened up a whole new set of questions and obstacles. We're waiting for more answers. Either way whenever I visit I still need to be as positive as possible and if Chris moves anywhere he will think that he IS making progress right? It will take a while for this to sink in...and my faint hope clause is still in working condition. Maybe that's naive wishful thinking but this isn't over until Chris decides it is...and I am certainly not going to give him a reason to stop trying.

I can't tell by looking at this photo whether it is a Sunrise or a Sunset?
Prove them wrong Chris..go ahead...prove them wrong.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Yesterday afternoon I found Chris in a wheelchair parked in front of the busy Nursing Station. He waved and smiled as he saw me coming down the hall. It was such a treat (for both of us) to see him out of his bed. I usually don't get there until the evening so I miss this part of his day.

Chris was quite intent on figuring out what the staff were doing. There were people darting in and out carrying all sorts of do-dads and what-nots, while others were busy answering phones, checking charts and computer screens. Chris could not stop himself from speculating upon the events.

He said that,"all these people are busy trying to figure out how to get me out of here...should be in a couple of days now."

While that is obviously not entirely true, it is a great attitude for him to have and I concurred that he was "prolly right". I said prolly because it drives Chris craaaazy and he gave me heck for it right then and there! The staff thought that was pretty funny.

I was informed that I could take Chris outside for a while :) so off we went. That was so much fun. I pretended to ram his feet into the elevator doors & walls, told him that we should play hide and seek to see how long it would take for his ward workers to find him..he enjoyed all the goofing around. Chris especially enjoyed our sojourn into the sunlit world outside of his prison.

Chris enjoyed all the, traffic, birds chirping, planes overhead, and he really liked eavesdropping in on the other inmates who were discussing and comparing the severity of their afflictions with each other.

One of the most puzzling bizarre sights that you always see is the ubiquitous hospital O2 Smoker? Even the most cynical amongst us must realise that if oxygenating your lungs requires a nasal tube attached to a small tank of Oxygen, that you prolly shouldn't be frickin' smoking HELLO!

Chris was mesmerized by the frail looking O2 Smoker who looked like she would have to get better just to die! I reminded Chris that he (we) had inadvertently QUIT 7 weeks ago and that now he needed to think of himself as an Ex-Puffer.

Hopefully this sinks in because he does talk about it and all of us have threatened him with a quick retribution if in the future we ever catch him trying to sneak a puff :( I was a light smoker (Chris was a pack-a-day'er) and after witnessing the brutal effects of the stroke, secondhand, it was a no-brainer for me...
and that's the end of my preachy sermon.

On our way back to his ward it became evident that some of Chris's social filters are still not working at full capacity although his commentary on women's fashion was most entertaining and informative. Most of the seasonally clad young ladies in the hallway seemed oblivious to his comments which although unwarranted, were definitely flattering :)

When we made it back to his ward it was Suppertime! I sat with him and watched him eat. Chris can feed himself with his left arm (I helped him a bit with the soup and cut up his food) and he ate the entire well as a chocolate bar that his sister had left.

We watched the news and talked about the Thunderstorm that had hit the city in the morning. A few areas in town had their power knocked.

I said,"See Chris, this is like you, lines are getting reconnected and things are getting back to normal." He laughed and nodded his head as he sipped on his Tea.

It was probably the best visit that we've had so far and I am "banking" this experience for the next not-so-great day.

Monday, July 6, 2009

I saw Chris on Sunday night. He was quite animated and told me in no uncertain terms that his right side is "frozen". I hadn't seen him for a few days because I was out-of-town and he was very chatty.

Chris looks healthier and his speech has isn't as laboured and deliberate as it was. He didn't hesitate and search for words as often.

Chris made a lot of jokes about stuff...some of which I can't repeat but most of which I regard as "normal" guy-talk :)

I noticed that the horrible fighting program was on his TV so I switched it over to the Discovery Channel to watch a spectacular documentary about the Ocean. Chris accurately identified a surprising number of the featured marine creautures...and he was most emphatic about his factoids.

This really seemed to capture his imagination but the best moment was when the program was focussing on the giant kelp beds.

I asked him what that was and he said, "KELP..I need somebody". We both cracked up at his little Beatle reference...which to me signals a real ability to manipulate information in the here & now. Right? You need to be on the ball to do that.

I mention this because Chris was still casually chatting about some weird stuff. I'm just believing that his bizarre notions are temporary and part of the healing process. Chris did pass an examination last week that determined he was able to make decisions and select others to help him safeguard his personal affairs so that was encouraging.

Chris looks healthier, he has some colour in his cheeks, he was happy and seemed optimistic that he would be leaving soon. This week I will try to find out when the medical staff thinks that his departure plan can be put in motion.