First off, I wanted to say thanks to everyone who helped when the hat was passed. You’ve given us more of a fighting chance than we had the day we came home, and I can never repay everyone who donated. Please know that it was immensely appreciated in our time of need.
Well. We’re home.
It always amazes me how God puts what you need right in front of you at the right time, even though you don’t always realize it.
When we bought this house last year, we found a few small holes in one of our tubs. Anissa called around and found a guy who could come out and repair them. He was a nice, older guy. Fairly talkative and pleasant. This past week, 2 of our tubs developed holes. The one upstairs was leaking through the ceiling, so it was pretty important for us to get it fixed. I had a million things going on and didn’t really have the time to think about it other than to ask my mom to call someone and get it fixed, after learning that the warranty doesn’t cover tubs. She did a quick search and found a guy, coincidentally, the same guy, to come out. When he came to the house, he kept telling my mom, I swear I’ve been here before. He described Anissa, and after a little bit, he remembered back when we moved in. My mom explained her situation to him and that we would be coming home shortly, hence the need to get this fixed.
When I pulled up in the drive and saw a couple of repair trucks in the way, I was slightly upset because it blocked the easy path in to our house. Minor, but just another hurdle to deal with when my mind was already racing about everything the nurses and therapists had taught me. So, I drove over the lawn a little bit and pulled the car up to where we could get into the house easily. I got out, assembled her chair, and with the help of our dear sweet friend, Robin, we got her out of the car and into the house.
When we saw the repairman, he talked to us like he’d known us for 20 years.
It turns out that 20 years ago, this man’s wife was in a horrible car accident and spent 13 months in the hospital (4 in a coma), while he kept his 4 kids sane and together. When you’re struggling, there’s nothing quite like meeting someone who’s walked in your shoes at just the right time. We must’ve talked outside for an hour. We traded some war stories, and compared notes. When he described his wife’s willpower and inner strength, I thought he was talking about Anissa.
It was a very uplifting experience.
On the morning of the 19th, I did what I have been doing since this all began: I made a cup of coffee, went out on my back porch, stared off at the trees and asked the same question I’ve been asking daily, “What’s today going to bring Lord?”
Depending on what day it is, and what’s going on inside, I usually hear the wind blow, the dogs bark, occasional laughter, or maybe an argument at the breakfast table over who looked at who wrong. On Friday, after the BEST DAMN NIGHT OF SLEEP EVER, I heard laughter. To be more precise, it was howls and constant giggling. The strange thing is that it was coming from my left, out through the master bedroom window.
That was new.
The kids had snuck in to the bedroom and Anissa was tickling them, one-handed.
It was perfect.
Understand, I grew up in a broken home. My parents did their best, but, probably due to my upbringing, the one thing that I treasure above everything is my family. It was finally together again, and it was good.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday consisted of my own little personal version of “In A Fix” and problem solving. A few years back, our friend Robin was a certified massage therapist. I wanted her up here not only because she’s an awesome friend, but because I wanted her to work on Anissa. We’ve seen some positive gains from simple massages, as the neuro-pathways are waking up. So, while Robin was working on Anissa, I was running around to Home Depot, Target, Walmart, and Lowes, trying to find things to help me make the house more “Anissa friendly”. All in all, our house isn’t THAT bad for what we need. The archways and doorways are wide. It’s mostly one level, just a bedroom and the office upstairs. So, I focused on getting the bathroom modified. For less than $200, I got to go to one of my more favorite stores and problem solve, and came up with a pretty darn functional bathroom. It was the first time in forever that I’ve gotten to do something a little fun and with purpose. While I was out, Robin was working on Anissa with some pretty good response. She was able to feel certain areas of her body that she hadn’t before.
Every day is a constant series of ups and downs though. At one point over the weekend, she was looking in the mirror and asked me how I could love her when she looked so crooked and things didn’t work right. How can I be a parent when I can’t even walk. I responded with a how can you love me when I’ve gained so much weight. (Chocolate chip cookies have gotten me this far people. Go easy on the fat kid.) I also explained to her that she can be a parent in every way possible. Maybe not all of the physical stuff, but I can help with that. So throughout the weekend, we slowly learned how we’re going to make this work, and Anissa started taking steps to get things back to normal within her household.
She also got on twitter and chatted a bit with folks.
That’s a big step for her. She’s developed a slight fear of technology, because of all the things she was able to do before, she simply can’t do now. Things move too quickly for her. In an online world where a quick wit and fast typing were once her strong points, she’s having to process stuff slower, type one handed and struggles to keep up. But the key thing is that she’s trying, and loving it.
On Sunday, Robin had to leave and my Aunt Eileen flew back in from Houston. I asked Eileen to be here the first week to help me problem solve daily stuff and to be my eyes and ears at therapy. We found out that the therapy rooms at the new place aren’t big enough to accommodate family watching, but Eileen was able to have lunch with Anissa every day, and that was re-assuring to her. On Monday, we did get to accompany her throughout the day as it was orientation. Anissa had some trepidation about the new place. The week before she had to leave the people who she was comfortable with and go off into the great wide unknown. Think of it as going from junior high to high school. Terrifying for teenagers and neuro patients. Some of the patients would be familiar, but the therapists would all be new. They’d have to learn how to “get” her all over again.
On Monday, we got up at the crack of dawn, late, and headed up to Shepherd Pathways. The therapies consist largely of 50 minute sessions with many varieties of therapy. Every meeting we had, they asked Anissa what her goals were. Every therapists eyes got big when she very eloquently told them her goals. She talked slowly, and if you didn’t know she had the stroke, you’d have thought she was speaking slowly on purpose, to get her point across. Welcome to Team Anissa guys. She’s going to wow your socks off.
My birthday came and went, and we had a nice little party in the evening, together. It was simple, and perfect. When I blew out the candles (which my mom made sure there were 38 of), I made a simple little wish: Let’s see some movement on the right side, arm or leg, I don’t care, but by Friday, give me a nudge.
Every day, we got a little bit better as we worked out a routine. Every day she got a little more comfortable with the new setting.
On Thursday, she started acupuncture. Since this all began, it’s been in my mind to get that involved somehow, but I couldn’t figure out how to let a hospital allow someone else to come in and do that. So, I waited. As luck would have it, the doctor we’re seeing now, actually does acupuncture as part of treatment if the patients are willing to pay for it. It’s not covered by insurance, but I figured we’d give it a go anyway. So, Thursday, when I picked her up, I was half expecting a major leap forward. It didn’t come, but she did say that she could feel new areas of her face that she hadn’t before.
Then came Friday.
Friday was amazing.
It started out rough. She’d been having issues looking out at the road as we drove the hour to therapy. Things are moving way too fast for her, and she’s been trying to focus on things inside the vehicle. The ride home isn’t as rough because she’s either exhausted and naps, or she’s excited and talks about everything they did that day. On Friday, I thought I’d bring her itouch with us and give her something to focus on while driving. She watched a handful of the videos and pictures she’s made over the years. It made her a tad sad because she couldn’t remember how she made them. When I dropped her off, she said that she didn’t want to go and instead wanted to head on home. Eileen told her that today may be the day something monumental happens, and what would happen if she weren’t there to experience it. That got Anissa’s over the hump and she headed off to therapy, sullenly.
We had agreed to go shopping after therapy. There’s a Target real close, so we headed there as Anissa was describing the day. We trolled around Target for probably 45 minutes, grabbed a few minor things and headed out to the car. I think she liked just seeing something different. Everything was new to her. She saw the baby clothes and kept saying, “ooo…the babies”. She saw the towels and said, “Oooo…look at the bright colors.” It was as if everything was new to her. I guess sitting in a hospital room for 90 days doesn’t exactly open up the creative juices.
Afterward, we got to the car, and I helped get her in. As I was getting ready to close the car door, I did a quick visual check: legs in, seat belt on, right arm safe, right leg moved. Ok, close the door.
I opened the door back up and asked her to do that again.
She thought about it for a second, looked down at her right leg and concentrated. There it was, plain as day, her right leg moved out to the right, then it pulled back in.
Then she looked up at me and smiled.
I asked her to do that again so Eileen could see it.
I couldn’t stop shaking I was so psyched.
We’re doing this people.
Painstakingly slow, but we are doing this dammit.
On the ride home, Anissa slept like a rock and I let her sleep. She’d most definitely earned it.
Saturday morning, before she got out of bed, we worked on that leg a little more. She’s able to move it side to side pretty well. It’s weak, and only above the knee, but still, it’s there. When laying down, she can actually lift it up off the bed.
Over the weekend, I’d ask her to move it more here and there, in different settings. Every time, she was able to move it. It takes a lot of concentration, and more effort when there are a lot of things going on, but it’s definitely progress….and best of all I got my birthday wish.