We arrived at the Halvar Jonson Centre in Ponoka on August 21, 2013. I had mixed feelings because I was excited to be there and to have Pat progress even more, but I knew the road ahead was long, that I would have to live away from home for months, until we knew for sure what our end result would be. He was using his legs to move his wheelchair around on his own, using a walker with assistance, standing well enough with the support of a pole to only need minimal help with daily care, developing new memories and showing more clarity with old ones.
Settling in with the new staff was a breeze because from day one we felt at home there and I had confidence that they would be taking very good care of Pat, and it was soon clear that they would also take good care of me. I continued to spend my days with Pat, participating in his therapies and helping to take care of him. He continued to gain strength, find more memories, build new memories, and hang onto the new things he was learning. Within a short time he was learning to shower and dress himself with help, and he was more alert and able to participate in conversations, even showing his sense of humour and making jokes.
We were actually able to bring him home to Mayerthorpe for a couple of weekends in October and it went very well. He had learned to go up and down stairs with assistance and was strong enough to walk around the house with someone on each side of him for support. He knew how many times a day he had medication, what the night time routine was to get him ready for bed, and he was speaking clearly and coherently with purpose and interest. He was so happy to be at home. It was encouraging for all of us to see the progress he was making and to have him in our home so we could spend time together as a family in our own familiar surroundings. We laughed and sang and had the opportunity to feel a little bit of what used to be normal.
I had somewhat settled into my new rented room in a home with a very nice couple and while being further from home made it more difficult for family and friends to visit regularly, some of them were able to come once in a while and the staff and family members of other patients became my social circle. We were all in similar situations and spending many months together day after day, so there were opportunities to share good days and hard days with each other and know there was a mutual understanding. The staff made the unit warm and comfortable for all of us and were always ready to listen, offer help and support, and lighten our load with smiles, jokes, and encouragement. They had seen a lot in their years of experience so they were great resources and sounding boards.
While I missed home and found myself feeling lonely a lot of the time, I knew that Pat was getting better and that his time in Ponoka would be very productive. We were beginning to talk about adjustments that could be made to our home for his eventual discharge, and he was being taught the skills he would need to be able to help himself as much as possible with daily living.
And then just as things looked promising, we once again faced an obstacle that in the long run was not to be overcome. I had allowed myself to feel hope once more, and once more it was taken from me. There would be no easy solution and eventually, after all we had been through, we would lose a battle that would take from us most of what was not already gone, a battle we couldn’t win.