January 25, 2017 Wednesday
Each day I arrived to find Chris in better condition than I’d left him. This morning he called me to follow up on when I’d be arriving and did I have his razor? Yes, it was packed, after several failed attempts. He sounded so good, even while he was nagging me. lol
As I made my way to his hospital room I noticed a big red cart in the hallway in front of what seemed to be Chris’s room. Getting closer I could confirm that indeed it was in front of his room. My heart picked up its pace as did my feet. Turning into the room I was greeted by six doctors and nurses with Chris sitting upright in bed with a solemn look on his face. Oh, man what now?
As calmly as I could muster I asked what was going on. “He’s been having chest pain he hasn’t told anyone about.”
Really? Are you kidding me?
So we went over yesterday’s activities again, including the vomiting and exactly when the chest pains started. Why didn’t he say anything? It wasn’t that he didn’t tell anyone, its that he couldn’t remember they happened when the nurse would ask him how he was doing. Ok, note to self…make sure to tell a patient to notify someone when new symptoms crop up.
Then one doctor asked the ever important question, “Where was the pain? Can you point to it?” And Chris pointed to the side of his rib cage.
I could almost cry from relief.
A pulled muscle was the diagnosis.
In therapy Chris was learning more about what the stroke stole from him, but also about how quickly his body was recovering. The first time he attempted a task it was difficult, but the second time was greatly improved. This was extremely encouraging, making Chris see value in this ‘rehab’ after all. His therapists were impressed and excited at his improvements. His doctors were talking about a Friday discharge which would make his stay the shortest stay they’ve ever had.
Later that afternoon, the rehab staff came back to check on him. All looked good. She left and he wanted to change out of his street clothes and get ready for bed. We put on the call light to wait for staff, but Chris had other intentions. While he was telling me ‘yes’ to waiting for staff, he was standing up taking his clothes off. In his face I could see a faraway look. My stomach sank. Not again.
The staff came in and I told her what happened and I rushed out to tell the associate from the rehab doctor’s office. He’s confused and a bit resistant. She came back in, saw what I saw and went back out.
And that quick it was gone. By the time the rehab doctor got there, Chris was Chris again and settling into bed.
All the while I had friends checking in on me via text and Facebook. Say what you will about social media, however when you are in a situation that can isolate, it provides convenient connection. Each time I received a message or a phone call I felt supported and cared for. I was relying on this to get me through.
It was my job to support Chris. He was in new territory struggling to get to know the language of his new body. I can only imagine that he felt betrayed by his body. If he couldn’t rely on his body, I was going to make sure he could count on me. So, I picked up the slack. I made sure that we didn’t miss a beat as best I could. My personal and professional work was put on hold, but I did maintain my sleeping and eating.
Chris still would focus on me and my needs so I didn’t sleep at the hospital. I ate with him at the hospital for most of my meals so he knew I was eating. I didn’t need him focusing on me when he needed to focus on getting better.
It was my job to support Chris so it was a gift to have others supporting me.
He was learning that he easily fatigued and required more rest after doing the simplest of tasks. He was apologetic and concerned about me, but what mattered was his recovery. I knew that sleep was an important part of the recovery process. While he slept I caught up on some work.
We ended the day feeling like much was accomplished and Chris went to bed early for the night so I left early as well. For the first time in more than a week I took a hot bath to detox myself.