Patience

Patience is something I used to believe I possessed in spades. After all, you don’t last very long in teaching without patience. When it first appeared TC might survive his atrocious injuries, I was immediately warned by every doctor that his recovery would be “a marathon, not a sprint.” In my head I yelled, “Yeah, yeah. I can handle a marathon. I just want my husband alive.” And while I know that we have the spirit and determination to go on like this for weeks and weeks, that doesn’t mean every hour is not a trying ordeal.

The word “recovery” implies a lot of things. To many people outside of this hospital it means that the old TC will be back one day in the future. He’ll be back at work being a renewable energy smartypants. He’ll be at home spoiling Jack and I rotten, as he always did. But when doctors use the word “recovery,” they are talking about something else completely. It’s not in their best interest to make any guarantees about the TC who will emerge from this hell. I’ve been warned he could have a major personality shift, be unable to speak or move or see, etc., etc., etc. And so I approach each and every day with the mentality bestowed upon me by my mother: hope for the best and plan for the worst.

The reality is that TC was not simply “assaulted and left unconscious,” as one might read or hear in the media. The left side of his brain, which for most people controls all language centers, decision making, and organization, was brutally bashed in. This injury caused bleeding within the brain that was left untreated, causing it spread to almost all parts of his brain for nearly 8 hours.

When he arrived at the hospital, the doctors attempted to relieve this bleeding by removing part of his skull and suctioning the blood out. The part of his skull which was removed was then implanted in the side of his abdomen in order to preserve it until the day TC is ready to have it reattached. The next day doctors discovered there was additional bleeding occurring on the right side of the brain. As a result, TC went back into surgery where he had part of his scalp lifted so they could remove the blood. Since then he has had two additional surgeries to address injuries to his lungs and to his left eye.

Most everyone I have encountered in the past 2 weeks has expressed the most gracious and kind words, but it’s difficult to hear the phrase, “Oh, I thought he was getting better” after I explain T’s current condition. Better is relative and in this case “better” is marked by teeny, tiny milestones, so seemingly insignificant that they can be hard to appreciate. Again, please reference the marathon analogy.

For those of you who have been wondering if Jack has seen TC, the answer is no. Young kids aren’t allowed in the ICU, but even if they were, it would be a frightening experience for him, one that neither TC nor Jack are yet prepared for. Hopefully that day will come in the next few weeks. It’s hard to say. In the meantime, Jack is adjusting well to waking up and falling asleep with his Aunt Beth by his side (even if he did call her “Daddy” multiple times this morning).

Keep us in your thoughts and send prayers for patience – for me, for TC, and for everyone in our lives.

2 thoughts on “Patience

  1. Abby – we are neighbors of Jim and Moira's and met you and your adorable family at our block party last year. Our family has been praying for strength for TC, you and Jack – and sending healing thoughts TC's way since we heard about this tragedy. You have an amazing gift for putting your true, raw feelings into words and I hope that it provides some healing to you and helps you to process through all of this. We will continue to pray for you all – so very many on Capitol Hill and elsewhere are praying and rooting for TC and for you and Jack. Best, Kjersten Drager

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  2. As the mother of a baby born far too soon, who went through brain surgeries and spent four months incubating in a plastic box instead of my belly.. I have a glimmer of understanding about how people perceive hospital stays. Then you find yourself reassuring THEM when they seem taken aback that the person in the hospital isn't what they define as 'healthy.' Stay strong, mama.. you can do this. One day at a time.

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