Sunshine

Yesterday was a day of many firsts. It was the first time TC has been outside in approximately a month. It was also his first reunion with Jack. Children under 13 are not allowed in TC’s wing of the hospital, so we arranged for their meeting to take place in the lovely garden adjacent to the building. TC was pleasantly surprised by the mild fall weather and seemed to enjoy the opportunity to spend some time outdoors.

The reunion itself was very nice, not a fairytale, but certainly not a disaster. With so many distractions around (including a fish pond!), it was difficult to get Jack to come and sit near TC. For the most part he seemed pretty oblivious to what was going on. TC, on the other hand, was overjoyed to be near Jack. The first words out of his mouth were, “Oh my gosh. He’s awesome.” I wheeled TC around the garden while Jack’s “uncles” (TC’s brother and two close friends from grad school) helped keep him from running wild and jumping in the pond. I quickly realized that I will need a lot of extra hands for these reunions. It’s not physically possible for me to control Jack while pushing TC around at the same time. For this reason, I was really grateful to have so much support yesterday. TC’s friends encouraged Jack to feel more comfortable by giving TC goodies like cookies and presents to hand to Jack himself. I think it will take several more visits before Jack recognizes what is going on. In the meantime, a doctor has recommended to me a children’s book about brain injury that I can read to Jack. What a brilliant idea.

Jack is TC’s heart and soul, and if this wasn’t clear before the assault, it is undeniable now. Many of our conversations throughout the day turn to Jack. TC is overwhelmed with love for his son and incredibly emotional about being so far away from him at the moment. It’s a beautiful sentiment to witness and it brings me to tears several times a day.

People have been asking me for more information about the part of TC’s brain that was affected by his injury. The bulk of bleeding took place on the left side of his brain, affecting the lobes that control language. Right now TC suffers from expressive aphasia, which basically means that although he knows what he’d like to say, he cannot find the words to do so either orally or in writing. His receptive language, the language he hears, seems to be mostly intact. Although it is difficult for him to follow long and complex conversations, he generally seems to understand what is being said to him. What he is able to say to us is very limited. His aphasia is most obvious in instances in which he is being asked a direct question. The other day his speech therapist held up a number of different objects and asked TC to name them. While he could show us what a pencil does or how to use a hammer, he was not able to say, “This is a pencil,” or “This is a hammer.” This skill will improve over time, but it will take a lot of therapy and practice.

Names are also difficult. Although he knows our names and will refer to us in conversation, he can’t always recall them when asked by a doctor. Sustaining a conversation requires patience by both TC and the listener. When he is well rested and alert, you may be able to understand more than half of what he says. When he’s tired or rushing, you may catch only 10%.

We don’t yet know what other cognitive deficits to expect. Brain injury survivors vary so greatly in their outcomes. Some experience major shifts in personality, trouble with planning or decision making, and issues with short term memory. It’s still too early to say whether these will come into play.

For now I am completely satisfied knowing that TC remains the most loving and humble man I’ve ever known. He has been shocked to slowly discover the many friends who have been at his side, the strangers who are caring for his family, and all the love he is receiving from colleagues and acquaintances. He has no idea that his assault is so publicly known, nor does he have an understanding of the full extent of people’s generosity. I will give him this information in doses as he becomes ready to embrace the enormity of the situation. Since I still struggle to comprehend all of these things myself, I can imagine they will come as a shock to T.

I am really looking forward to the next few weeks as TC’s therapy intensifies. I have a feeling his progress will continue to astonish and inspire us all.

10 thoughts on “Sunshine

  1. I'm a fellow MOTH and have been following your blog. I am so inspired by the strength you show. Your ability to put these experiences to words is amazing and I am grateful for your willingness to share your story with us, your community. I was anxiously awaiting today's entry and am so glad to hear it went well.

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  2. So glad to hear that the first visit went well, also that Sean and friends were there to help out. I can't imagine being able to do it without them. Would like to thank you for writing your blog as it is the only way for me to stay informed on how TC is doing. Thoughts & Prayers

    Donna xx

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  3. Dear Abby,

    Thank you for writing so courageously and consistently about your life and the way this awful and violent attack affects you, TC, Jack and undoubtedly your entire set of family and close friends. Your writing is really really stunning – it's clear and renders the situation so tenderly and yet you and your boys are never victims – you are strong. I love that. As a fellow MOTH with little ones and a talented, devoted husband, your words and your situation are raw and reminding for me and those who live here. Thank you for sharing this most challenging time with all of us…know that your Hill neighbors care about you all, pray for you, gain strength from your strength, example from your example. You are an amazing person – hang in there and know that love surrounds you.

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  4. So glad that things went well and were uneventful. Those of us with children know how unpredictable the reaction of a toddler may be.
    Continued prayers for all of you!

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  5. Glad to hear that it all went well. We look forward to more pictures of TC and Jack together. I'm sure it brings them both much comfort. Thinking of the three of you.

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  6. My husband and I have been saying prayers and thinking of your family all the time. The entire community is behind you Abby. We all love your family. – Love a MOTH family

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  7. Strong, wonderful Abby,
    I am so happy to hear of TC's progress and that you had the opportunity to enjoy the day with your husband and son! Major props to Jack's “uncles”–they sound amazing and I'm so glad they are there to support your family. Warm and hopeful thoughts are sent your way!
    Elizabeth

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  8. Abby, Another MOTH here who has been following your family's story and reading your blog. Thank you so much for sharing. I have a son who just turned two and I just can't imagine I'd be coping as well as you seem to be with all you have to balance. Your strength is inspiring. Please reach out further to the community if there is any more we can do (meals, laundry, really anything). Sending all good thoughts your way for a positive, speedy and complete recovery for TC.

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  9. Abby, such great news! I continue to be impressed by your willingness and ability to express clear depictions of the situations and emotions that you are experiencing. Thank you! Wishing you and your family a positive recovery. TC is in my thoughts and prayers everyday!

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