Monday, September 21, 2009

9/21 No place like home

And no place like K-Mart. There was Chuck, karoming through the aisles on one of those electric scooter carts. He only picked off one underwear display and we set off the alarm when we drove out the doors with it, so overall, highly successful navigation.

The house has been so re-organized and cleaned in the months Chuck has been absent, no vestige of his old bachelor pad with receipts, mail, papers and business cards covering every surface. (Same nearly empty fridge.) We were like Goldilocks in the Three Bears house only nothing was Just Right. Sat on every chair, ate some soup and cottage cheese, laid in the bed for 10 minutes, but ran out of things to do. Hence the trip to K-Mart followed by a visit to Lake Anna where we parked, watched people go by and napped a bit with our seats tipped back.

At the house, I emphasized that my two concerns were the stairs and the hard floor in the kitchen area. I told him about the woman I met at Edwin Shaw who had shattered a tail bone in her own kitchen after stepping on her cat's tail and falling and that she has to wear a "body case" for 6-8 months. Chuck got a very sober look on his face and said clearly, "'s mine to lose, and I don't want to lose it!" He also said a sentence with the words, "so you can feel my pain" in it.

The evening meal was a great success. Our neighbor Ruth and her husband Gary came over bearing a magnificent roast, home-made applesauce and a home-made blueberry cobbler bundt cake and Chuck prayed the blessing over his own table. All his girls were in attendance: Shelley, Stacey, Lauren, Allie, me and of course Ruth and Gary who I love to say are "weird and wonderful." I tell Chuck we are now official members of the Weird and Wonderful fellowship of the world and that we will be find friends everywhere we go.

Observations and statements from Chuck:

Early in the day

C: When are we going to the game?
A: What game?
C: The football game.
A: Whose football game?
C: Mandela's
A: Oh, New Jersey? Princeton? Gosh, soon I guess but not right away.
C: Why not?
A: Just thought we might need to wait.
C: I don't think we should wait. We need to go.
[We discuss Mandela and Chuck tears up, continues to be emphatic about the importance of getting over to see him immediately. Auburn cries for the first time about her only son going off to college, apologizes for the intensity of the groundswell.]
C: You needed to cry. You didn't have time. When are we going?
[We text Mandela and set a date in early October to make the trip]

Later Chuck tries on one of his suits and ties his tie. We find several pairs of pants he can wear. We visit Ruth and Gary next door and Ruth tells Chuck about how when she visited him at Manor Care, he squeezed her hand and she said, "Chuck this is your right hand. Your right hand, Chuck." Her friend nudged her and said, "Um, Ruth, that's his left."

Chuck finds this hilarious. As we get up to leave, Chuck tells Ruth, "I'm glad to see you're doing better."

At the evening meal, he told his daughters and grand-daughters he loved them and he applauded Ruth and Gary for the stupendous meal. He wept when we talked about our first vacation with Stacey, Brent and the girls and how it marked beginnings of the whole, newly-constituted family coming together. Ruth and Gary said to Chuck, "You have wonderful daughters." Chuck gestured to me and said, "She has wonderful daughters." (Boy, is that ever a true statement.)

In the evening, back at Edwin Shaw, Chuck talked about his strong desire to continue to provide for his family. He also expressed some relief at being back. Things make sense here.

We will need to really commandeer our home, our space and our schedule in a way that creates a sense of predictability and progress and my mission for our remaining days here is to plunder every tool and bit of knowledge I can glean from these therapists about how to continue our work.

Here's a tidbit: The doc says he will be evaluating Chuck in 4-6 weeks for his readiness to retrain as a driver (almost hard to imagine this now, but let's imagine!) As we drove out of Edwin Shaw yesterday, Chuck worked the stick, flawlessly, and when I took wrong turns and ended up in Norton, Chuck gave me directions back to Barberton. Several times, he opened the door for me to let me in the car (I tell him he's a gentleman, a scholar and a Boy Scout). He insisted on handling the grocery bags for me and he demonstrated that he could manage his own seatbelt and get in and out on his own, so I've stopped doing the panicked sprint to the other side of the car.

Our next mission: Find the best local speech therapist for outpatient while looking for options nationally. We need someone with proven results in the treatment of Aphasia and Apraxia for a person with an otherwise highly functional and mature mind. Aphasia is about difficulty accessing the right word; Apraxia is about difficulty getting the right motor command to the lips to pronounce words.


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