One of the interesting things about TC’s recovery thus far is that no day has been the same. The doctors have been trying to ween T off sedation so that they can more accurately assess his neurological functioning. At the moment, TC is also breathing on his own. He continues to receive humidifier treatments through his trach. The purpose of that is to help break up the remaining secretions in his lungs and finally kick that pneumonia. In the words of TC’s nurse yesterday, “He’s really not ICU appropriate anymore.” This means that in the next few days we can expect T to be moved to a step down ICU unit in the hospital, and then, eventually, to a rehabilitation hospital.

Because I’m apparently a glutton for punishment, my sister, mom, cousin, godmother, and I sat down last night to watch The Vow. For those of you who haven’t seen it, this movie is the epitome of a chick flick. However, it is also based on the real life story of a couple who survived a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Last year on Valentine’s Day, TC bought tickets for us to go see the movie together, followed by dinner at Co Co. Sala. Being the grumpy, overworked teacher I was at the time. I grumbled about being expected to go out on a school night and finally conceded to see the movie, but shot down T’s dinner plans. Yes, I am the most foolish wife ever.

In any case, watching the movie last night forced me to confront some of the realities that lie ahead – memory loss, personality changes, anger, etc. But the premise of the movie, that someone could forget their memories of their spouse, is in no way a fear of mine.

When I enter TC’s hospital room, he knows who I am. Obviously he can’t say anything, but he communicates strongly through his eyes. He is often pleased to see me at first – holding and squeezing my hand or touching my cheek – but after a few minutes, I become the target of his anger. He looks at me quizzically as if to ask why I haven’t gotten him out of there yet. If he hears me joking with nurses or making small talk, he assumes that I’m OK with the situation and his state of misery.

Yesterday, in a moment of quiet, I let him see me cry. I apologized for not being able to help him in the way he wants help. I reminded him about his son and promised him that we will go home and live our life as a family one day soon (he gave me a thumbs up). I explained once more why he’s at the hospital, but reassured him that not only is he alive, he is getting better everyday. I showed him pictures of Jack and our extended family. He held up one particularly sweet photo of Jack and shook it back and forth as if to acknowledge his love for his son. He seemed to understand everything I was telling him, and his anger ceased momentarily.

I know we will have that discussion a dozen or more times and perhaps with different results, but it was hugely uplifting to be able to connect with TC for a brief, few minutes. The white board continues to be an effective way of communicating, even though he can’t write back. At the end of our visit, Beth and I drew him a picture of home. Although the artwork is unquestionably bad, he pointed to the word home with determination.

3 thoughts on “Persistence

  1. Abby:

    As excruciating as this time has been for you, you have taken time to share yourself with us. Thank you so much for that. I cannot know how you feel, but I feel tremendous caring, respect and empathy for you, TC and your family. The Ballet Workout class wants you to know that we are part of your community and are figuring out how to be of some help. I would be as furious as TC, I just know it. I will pray, talk to God and just hope. You all don't just have a village behind you; you have your very own city.


  2. This may be a way to have him communicate back with you. In “Breaking Bad”, there's a character who can't speak or communicate, he only has a bell attached to his wheel chair. At some point, he's sent to a nursing home, where they have a chart and they use that chart with the bell to have him spell things out. It'd be tedious, but it may be a way of helping out and get him communicating to you. Here's a video link from a scene that shows it. It's a bit profane, but its all I could find that shows it. I hope it helps out in some small way.

    I am praying for you all.


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