Home and Hope at Last
After ten days in the hospital again, Friday my husband was finally released. One would think I’d get used to it. This has been the fourth time in six months. Each time it’s harder and harder. Each time it’s more difficult to even convince him to go. This was a particularly rough stay for him and he came home exhausted. He used every ounce of energy he had to transfer from his chair to the car and back out.
He’ll be better in a day or two; I told myself. They ‘guaranteed” him that the he was completely infection free this time. The doctor even had him stay an extra two days to monitor his white cell count. So, this will be just a bit of time to rest up and he’ll be back to his usual positive, good natured self.
As the weekend progressed, he slept. He slept a lot. Each day becoming weaker and weaker when he would try to get up. He required more assistance than when he first returned from rehab after his spinal cord surgery last year. I started to feel the fear building. He wasn’t even trying. He actually was saying, “I can’t…”. This is not him. This is not my husband. My husband is the man who when told by the neurosurgeon “it would take a miracle” for him ever to walk again kept right on exercising. Who just a few weeks ago walked eight to ten steps with the PT using a walker!
The fear was that he was giving up. The fear worsening when he made comments like, “This is no way to live!” All my pep talks, all my reassurances–it’ll just take some time; you were in bed for ten days”–fell on deaf ears. He continued to be distant, nearly depressed. If he gives up, what then? There is too much at stake here, too much we still have to do. Time, we need more time together.
Yesterday, I had one of those nights where I just couldn’t sleep. I finally got up at 5:30 a.m. and tried to think of what I can do to help him. I remembered that I had taken notes when the first home PT came right after the surgery. The notes were exercises he could do in bed with my assistance to regain some strength. I printed these out, hoping I could convince him to participate when he woke up.
Before I had the opportunity, the PT called and said that the hospital wanted him to come and re-evaluate my husband. It was the same PT who had him walking with a walker. My husband was in bed and I asked/told him that Mark wanted to come this afternoon. He groaned his consent and rolled over and closed his eyes. He showed no interest, no enthusiasm.
About an hour later I went in and said, “When do you want to get up? Mark is coming around 2 p.m.” His indifference was so unlike him. He informed me if Mark wanted to come he could see him in bed. After a bit of back and forth, he finally consented to get up. He dressed and ate than proceeded to roll out onto the deck and doze while he waited. When Mark arrived hubby told him his latest list of woes: the hospitalization, the weakness, the near inability to even lift himself with his arms. Making his excuses for what he presumed would be his failure to perform.
Now Mark to the rescue. He’s a happy, cheerful, positive young man. He listened sympathetically then proceeded to tell hubby to roll over to the rail and stand up! Begrudgingly, he obliged. He went to the rail, moved up in his chair grabbed the rail and stood. It wasn’t pretty, but he stood for about 45 seconds. Mark then took my husband back to bed and proceeded to assist him with exercises for over half an hour. Afterward Mark proclaimed, “See, it’s not as bad as you thought, you did better than the first time I saw you”.
After Mark left there was a immediately and noticeable difference in my husband. He sat tall. He smiled. He started moving around the house! He finally told me that he had feared that this time his kidneys were shot, that that was why he felt so tired. Mark made him see that it was in fact just being bedridden for by now two weeks. My husband saw that if once again he put his mind to it, he could get better.
Later in the evening he was on the computer as I watched TV in our room. He started blasting Merle Haggard singing “Natural High”. He knew that would draw me out. I came and stood by him; he looked up at me and said, “This is for you, thank you for pushing me, for not letting me give up.” Now my husband is home and on the mend!