Chapter 13: TBI – Encouragement and Hope

After an initial four week stay at the Glenrose, while still not medically stable, Pat was showing gradual progress in therapies and was cooperative for the most part, so they decided to give him a two week extension.  We had a family meeting with his team, who explained both his progress and his ongoing challenges, and we had the opportunity as a family to thank them all for giving Pat a chance that he normally wouldn’t have had.  We realized that they were going above and beyond in their efforts to help him, and to help me give him the best I could give him; they recognized that I needed this opportunity as much as Pat did, so I could live with knowing I had done my best for him, even if things didn’t work out in the end.

From my Journal, May 3, 2013:

I have been fighting a lot of anger and sadness up until just recently. But I think I am starting to accept things as they are and to realize that no matter what happens down the road, you are being given the best chance you could have right now for recovery and rehab, and that’s all I can ask. Knowing that is beginning to give me peace and allowing me to move through my grief and not be so afraid of how this will all turn out. I think part of my stress has been that I want to make sure that you get everything possible to help you, and feeling that it is up to me to make sure you get it, but not knowing exactly how to do it all. Now that I am realizing how hard these people are working for you and that they are trying to get you to a point where they can help you get somewhere else for more rehab if possible, I feel less pressure to try to control the outcome.

My hope of course is that you will be healthy and strong enough to come home where I can look after you. But if we go through all this and that still doesn’t happen, at least I will know that everyone did their best, and I think I will be better able to accept an alternative outcome at that time. 

I’ve thought a lot about our marriage vows this week, and as they continue to come to mind, I realize that this experience is teaching me a lot about love. We have lost so much from our lives together before the accident, but our love remains. You are mine and I love you and I always will, and whatever condition you are in, you are my husband, to have and hold, in sickness and health, for better or worse, forever. As hard as all this is, that’s really what matters in the end, and I just want to be with you.

I don’t remember hearing about post traumatic amnesia until Pat awoke from it one weekend in May, over four months after the accident.  It seemed that suddenly he was able to build short term memories about where he was, who the other patients were, where they had worked, whether or not they were married and had families, who his therapists were and what they were telling him to do. He began to tell us about the things he was learning about everyone, and remembering what he was learning in his therapy sessions.  He became more cooperative and interested in learning and working on his physical exercises, and had more energy and stamina.  We were excited and encouraged, as were all those working with him.  It was literally a transformation over a Saturday and Sunday that surprised everyone and made it possible for us all to hope for   greater progress than we had thought would be possible.

Before long the team made the decision to keep Pat in their program an additional two weeks, and eventually to keep him for the duration of the typical three months at which point they put in his application for Halvar Jonson in Ponoka as he had overcome some of the obstacles he first faced and had become a candidate for the long term rehabilitation program.

We had another few weeks at the Glenrose waiting for his acceptance and eventual transfer to Ponoka, and by the time he was to move in August, he was eating soft foods, drinking thickened fluids, and had learned to transfer from his wheelchair to the car seat and walk with a walker — all with our assistance of course — he was regaining mobility and remembering steps to perform certain sequences safely and we were able to take him on outings to spend time with our family away from the hospital, including a day trip home to Mayerthorpe the week before he moved to Ponoka.

We had made it – he had finally awakened enough to begin making real gains in his physical strength and ability.  We were on our way to getting him home again, and we left the Glenrose with confidence that the extra time and work we would do in Ponoka would only further increase his chances of having a decent quality of life at home with us.

Our goodbyes were said with mixed emotions; there were so many people to thank for having given him the chance they gave him in the beginning and persevering in their efforts to ensure that he had every opportunity he needed.  His team had really been that – A TEAM – who involved us as a family, cared about us, and rejoiced with us all along the way.  They had and have special places in our hearts.  At the same time leaving meant that Pat was getting better and moving on and we could look forward to the new things we would see as he continued to progress.

However, as was the case with most of our journey, these encouraging events and the accompanying hope we enjoyed after so many months of struggling were temporary and short lived.

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