Friday, September 25, 2009


Today I visited Chris just after chow and before I said ciao, he had a visit with Chew the Chow-Chow.

While I was there a sister and an old friend dropped by and Chris was engaging and laughed throughout our lively group discussion.

In the few minutes that we had together, Chris was quite elated about having completed his morning stint in therapy and having the weekend off!
Some things are universal.

I found out that he has a laptop in his closet HELLO! and so we're going to see if the therapist can work with him next week and try to tap out a few lines.
I told him that he can take over this Blog but he is thinking of creating a brand new site.
That will be fantastic!

I told him that I'd be happy to help him get that if you're phoning or visiting..please encourage him to get that up and running.

No news on an exact date for his imminent exit, however his fabulous sibs have preparations for his new residence well in hand. It would be great if Chris could handle lingering for a few more Lifeskill lessons, but he really just wants to get "home", and who can blame him?

We had fun today..I was showing him how to do 360s in his forward and reverse..he said that he'd try it after his siesta.

I should mention that Chew the Chow lives with one of the staff members. Staff take turns bringing in their pets to visit, lick, and warm the hearts of the patients. What an awesome program. These "fursicians" all have their portraits up in the hall.

A while ago I saw a stout Basset get off an elevator and waddle down the hallway at "supper time"...he went in and out of every room looking for the most generous hosts :)

I apologise for not posting everytime that I assured that I will pass on any BIG news. Anyway, you should be aware that Chris was in high spirits on every occasion. I sense that he can taste freedom.

Ready or Not, Chris is working on his return to Life in the outside world, as he calls it.

Many of you are aware that Chris can be stubborn and bullheaded..oh wait, I think we call that "perversely unyielding" now. Pardon me while I state the obvious, but I think that his fortitude has had a lot to do with his recovery.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tonight Chris was back on the ward after spending a couple of days in the onsite apartment suite. He told me that it was nice to have some privacy, but that he was sort of lonely being all by himself.

He of course was being constantly monitored, but he was left to fend for himself and discover what he'll need to be able to do for himself once he is discharged.
Chris said that he did appreciate the peace & quiet but after a while he felt all alone with nothing to do but watch his TV..
which was smaller than the TV in his ward room.

Chris told me that after he has finished his morning and afternoon therapy sessions that there is not much else to do but watch TV...and nap.

When I arrived he and a staff member were trying to get his TV headphones working. He was visibly annoyed because watching the Tube is a big part of his day.
I noticed that the wires on his headphone had been schmucked..
Chris said that they had been caught in his wheelchair as he
fiddled with the connection...
they were kaput.

Much to his surprise and delight I said a very bad word, grabbed them from him, tossed them in the garbage, and took out the "good headphones" from the bedside drawer, and
Ta-Da! The other headphones worked perfectly!

I repeat this story only to emphasize what an important device and distraction the TV has become.
Here is a Chris-Eye view..

he is fortunate to be beside a HUGE row of of which has a screened portal which I always crank open to let in some fresh air.

As I mentioned Chris was glad to return to the ward where there is commotion and routine...just not-so-much at this time of the day.

He said that there wasn't any "ambience" in the apartment and that it was lonely. This is something which we all need to pay attention to since his release is imminent.

I have not yet heard whether Chris will be moving on to the other Lifeskills facility for a few more months of training and rehab. If he isn't, in a few weeks he may be going "home" to his new apartment. For obvious reasons we're moving his residence from the burbs to a central location which is closer to the rest of his family...very, very, close.

What can I say, Chris was in a great mood, he asked me to help him start going online soon, and he spoke of his experimental overnights in his trademark practical, matter-of-fact fashion. I was encouraged that he spoke openly about the loneliness factor..he really seemed to pick up on that.

I drove home with all the windows was a gorgeous, warm, evening and I could not stop thinking that he may never be able to drive again.

We talked about that because I am guarding his car and I asked him what he wanted me to do with it. He said,"let's wait and see what happens. I may never drive again..pause..but who knows what could happen right?"
After hearing something like that I made sure that I appreciated every detail of the drive home. Imagine being able to spend your Life living in the moment?

He has these insightful moments. Even though his short term memory is still constantly "shorting-out" on him, Chris does talk about the "big picture"
That's why I feel so optimistic.

Monday, September 14, 2009


This evening Chris told me that he would like to start Blogging soon, maybe next week! It's the first time that he has done so without my prompting him. I finally told him that I had started this blog for him so that he could have a record of his journey and how it all looked from the outside. He thought that was cool..which was a relief.

I told him that he was more than welcome to start practicing here by answering comments. I would help him post for a while and then he can either take it wherever he wanted, get back to his little corner of the blogosphere, or create a brand-spankin' new one!

I neglected to mention that last Friday two Stroke survivors visited Chris to share their experience. He admitted being a little nervous at first, but he said that it was interesting to talk to someone who has been through this. I hope that they and others will make a connection so that he doesn't feel as isolated.
Chris is concerned that he can't remember a lot of what happened. I just reminded him that he is slowly synapsing his way back and not to force it.

Chris is excited about moving into an onsite apartment for the next couple of days!

This suite is used to assess patients who are preparing to re-enter the outside world. This program was discussed at the meeting last week and the staff told us that it is an excellent way for Chris, and the staff, to see how he would really do in a more challenging environment.

Chris of course is looking forward to having a modicum of privacy..something that he has been without for months... btw Chris will be monitored for his safety.

The next step may also include moving to a different lifeskills facility, but we still don't know whether or not his application has been approved. Chris talked about it, and he seemed OK with the idea of strengthening his ability to live on his own, at least as much as he is able to at this point in time.
I reaffirmed his PMA and encouraged him to stay positive about another stint...
because from here-on-in, every little extra bit will help.

Whenever I visit I always try to work in some Sports stuff with Chris. Tonight there was some wailing and gnashing of teeth about the Bombers BOMBING in the Banjo Bowl. He howled when I told him about the "We Want Reinebold" headline on page one of the Sports section. He was having a laughing fit he thought that was so funny!

I also mentioned an AP story entitled "Brett looks Favrellous".
Now I was never the encyclopedic/analytical Sports guy that Chris was, and perhaps that worked wonders for our relationship over the years. Chris has endured listening to my kvetching about trivial superficial aspects of professional sports..such as the merkin pronounciation of Favre as Farrrrvvvv.

For whatever reason, Chris has always got a real kick out of my nit-pickety pet-peeve about Farrrvvv. I can accept Favray, Favour, Fav, even Faveree, but seeing Farvrrvellous pushed me over the top. He laughed and laughed and told me who I needed to call and complain.

I mention this last bit only because I really love hearing Chris laugh again...
because I know for certain, that in that moment, he is free.

So let's see how Chris does in his "trial apartment" and hope for the best. If afterwards he realises that he probably needs more help, and owns up to it, that will only improve the quality of his recovery and increase his chances of regaining a more independent existance.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Late last night I snuck in some Pizza and a Pepsi for Chris.

He was busy entertaining visiting hours were pretty much finito when it was my turn so we had a quick visit.

Chris was in a good mood and it was nice to see him getting some was Friday night afterall. Anyway we didn't get a chance to do much chinwagging.

I brought along some pictures to pin on his wall One of them was this shot that I took of my Lilly that morning before it fell over from the deluge.

Many of you may be unaware that Chris was a bit of a Flower buff and he constantly offered advice on how to manage my backyard...for years.

I also made a copy of the picture I snapped of the family members who attended a meeting this week...I realised that I forgot to show it to Chris.

There is stuff happening and preparations are being made to accomodate Chris's imminent exit from the institution...I'll have more on this in the near future. Right now everybody wants Chris to take advantage of his stay and (re)gain as many Lifeskills as possible before he leaves.

Chris of course is anxious to get out and who can blame him? Next week could bring some important developments on his journey "home".

Hopefully I will be able to report on some of the opportunities in the works that are designed to challenge Chris and prepare him for a more independent Life :)
Here he is thanking me for the contraband.

If you do have the opportunity please write or call Chris and/or plan a visit.

Monday, September 7, 2009

September Long
I had an awesome visit with Chris this morning.

I brought along my camera to snap a few update shots and to show him some of my Summer photos from my blog..
which he still always asks me about..
he is so considerate and thoughtful.

It was so great listening to him laugh.
Here he is phoning my wife to say "Hi" and make fun of me...
I won't print what he called me but I consider it a term of endearment :)

A quick background. I know that this part of the blogosphere isn't about me, but Chris was and remains the most supportive fan of my blog. He asks me about it everytime we visit.
We met in College while taking Creative Communications back in the late 70s..he went on to work in Print and I in TV. Even though he is a "real" writer/editor, he still managed to overlook my obvious shortcomings and continually encouraged me to keep at it. I will always consider him my Editor Emeritus and value his input.

Chris was very upbeat and bright. Things are starting to happen.
Plans are being made for the next step in his recovery.
Hopefully this will all come together in the very near future and Chris can start the next phase and enjoy a little more independence.

He needs to keep adapting and re-learning but I feel a lot more confident about his prospects than I did one month ago. Chris seems to be more positive and perhaps he has started to sense that change is in the wind.
We're all expecting Chris to turn another corner in the next while :)

I have to tell you that when his lunch arrived, he matter-of-factly sat up and spun around..I just stared for a moment...and realised that he has come such a long way. I said "hey you just"...and he said "oh yeah".

His wonderful sister arrived and brought him a real homemade barbequed Burger!...

how awesome is that?
We both agreed that Chris isn't really aware of his progress.

It's September Long and Summer is over so Chris is right on schedule. Chris has some new things to look forward to. After today's visit I can honestly say that I am excited and optimistic about his success...sure there will be more disappointments and setbacks...
but he seems to bounce back every time something went askew.

Good for you Chris!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I should leave the last CHRIS WAS IN HIGH SPIRITS post up for a while.

There seems to be a rhythm to the tone of our meetings...

I'm not sure why that is or if I imagine it. It is unrealistic to hope that every visit is cheery and filled with laughter. I expect to do a lot of listening and hand holding because Chris has waaaay too much time to sit and think about all of this. My wish is that he finds that positive "thread" dangling and hangs on for dear life...which is hard enough for most to do.

There are a few encouraging things in the works of which I'll write about in the very near future. We're hoping that Chris gets to meet some people who have overcome this experience. They might have a lot more credibility and he may be reaching some level of "familial fatigue". Which is why I think it is important for Chris to reconnect with the rest of the world.

In the meantime I want to encourage the local people to make a brief call or visit if they get a chance. Chris is usually finished most of his work by 3ish.

fyi: I am printing out letters and home-made get-well cards that people send from out-of-town & overseas.
Thank You all for the encouragement...
hopefully Chris will start using his laptop and then you can connect directly.