It’s ironic to me that while a situation as the one we are in can bring so much perspective to your everyday life, it is incredibly easy to lose that perspective in the small, stressful moments of the day. For some reason, Wednesdays are always the toughest day of the week for me. Yesterday was no exception. I thought the enormity of what has happened to TC would make me better able to deal with life’s ordinary stressors, but in fact, the opposite is true. Little things like waiting in line, Jack feeding his food to Spencer, searching for a parking spot, etc. send me into crazy woman mode.
Yesterday it took me 90 minutes to drive from our house to my graduate class in Tenleytown. 90 minutes. I actually contemplated pulling over at the tidal basin to have my first public nervous breakdown. But I kept on trucking. I arrived to class grumpy, anxious, and 30 minutes late. And then, of course, I had to step out of the room to field phone calls from detectives.
It’s not easy being a full time cheerleader when you secretly want to throw in the towel every moment of the day. Around Jack I try to smile, laugh, and carry on. I get dressed in the morning like I’m going to work and I do the drop off/pick up routine from the nanny that was routine in our previous life. After he goes to bed, I head back to the hospital, pay bills, read about neurology, or do some general organizing of our very complicated and messy life.
Around TC, I play essentially the same role. I smile. I reassure him this is only temporary. I tell him how proud we all are. And I listen to him vent. I back up the decisions made by the doctors and therapists, even though I understand why TC is unhappy with some of their choices. The most recent of these was the decision to have TC sleep in an enclosed bed. This contraption, which looks like a traveling cage for zoo animals, is meant to keep TC from breaking free of his restraints and getting out of bed. Apparently his fall the other night did not go unnoticed by the doctors.
TC was understandably offended when they introduced this new component to his life. It looks like an enclosure meant for animals or small children, not renewable energy analysts with master’s degrees from Duke. We argued about this safety issue for a good hour (most of his argument was not clear, but his body language certainly was). Eventually, I threw my hands up and said, “Listen, we have limited energy here. We can’t afford to get worked up about this. Your energy goes into your therapy and getting better. That’s it.” He threw his hands up in return and a truce was called.
Because TC has such limited memory of the past few weeks, it’s extraordinarily difficult for him to observe his own progress in recovery. He feels like an invalid, even though he is a million miles away from his original state of incapacity. In all the reading and research I’ve done, I’ve been astounded by the plasticity of the brain. I KNOW that TC can regain all that was lost in his assault. As his personal cheerleader, it’s now my job to keep him motivated in his recovery. I was really inspired by the documentary below. I plan on watching it with TC today and would recommend it for anyone affected by brain injury or stroke. It’s completely fascinating from a child development perspective as well.