I have been slacking lately. It has been a week since I blogged any real update. It has been crazy and hectic and scary and we are still trying to find some kind of routine. Last week was a tough one for my mom and dad. It seems depression made a comeback at perhaps the worst time. (Although there is never really a good time for it.) My dad struggled and is still struggling. His progress has been amazing but he isn't as far as he wants to be. He thinks he should be further a long. A few nights last night he decided he wasn't going to take his medication. One night got particularly bad and we were all trying to convince him to take his meds for close to three hours. In that same time frame my mom briefly passed out or something, either way paramedics were called. I will admit I was angry at my dad for stressing my mom out. I hate seeing either one of them upset. I had to step back though and remind myself that it was really depression, it wasn't my dad. It was depression using my dad, it wasn't my dad. I know that he would not have said some of the things that he did, but that depression would. Just as we see cancer as something separate of the person, and not their fault....how could I see depression any other way? He doesn't want us to go away, depression does. The depression is not him. It was a perspective shift. Being somebody who struggles myself, it gave me a glimpse from a different angle. Anyways, the next morning my mom ended up in the hospital where she stayed for observation and additional testing. Thankfully, all her tests came back good and an MRI revealed that she has some tears in her rotator cuff, which most likely caused internal swelling that gave her the feeling of pressure in her chest. My dad was very sad when he saw her in the hospital, we all were. She kept saying she was worried that she would go to the hospital and that it would be nothing and we would all think she was crazy. I kept telling her we would all be relieved to know she was ok. I am grateful that it was nothing worse.
We have been trying to keep my dad busy as best as we can. He and my mom did a painting class with my sister and brother in law this past Saturday. We took him out Saturday during the day to pick out some flowers and a card for my mom for Valentines day. He is getting back into his therapy schedule. Yesterday he was doing so well in speech therapy that they worked with him a little longer. He has homework that we work on at home with him. And walking and arm exercises and trying to send messages to his brain that his right arm is still there. Today we went to see my uncle, and my dad got a big smile on his face when he saw that he had shaved his head, similar to how my dad always did his! They sat and talked for a good half an hour or so. Actually my uncle did a lot of the talking and my dad did a lot of listening. Today in the Transitional Care Unit of Shands it felt like a dark day. I was standing listening to them talk but I was hearing everybody elses story too. It was like one of those slow motion moments where everything is so loud and nothing is really slow. I heard about one guy who was on a motorcycle, just leaving after having made funeral arrangements for his father, his back tire was sorta shaking back and forth and the next thing he remembers is waking up in the hospital. Apparently he landed 25 feet away from his motorcycle. He was crying today. Another guy was trying to get a girls number in a car at a stop light, the next thing he knew the windows of the car went down and they opened fire with automatic assault rifles - he was shot twice in the head, three times in his leg and two times in his arm. He sped off to avoid any more shots and wrecked his car. His best friend was in the car with him and died. Yet somehow he survived, he is able to stand. He still has quite a bit of healing but he can stand and he can talk and he can wheel himself around the rehab gym. They motorcycle guy told the bullet guy, "The big man upstairs was looking out for you too." Then there is another guy who.....somehow in the midst of their trauma they look out for each other. The connection they have is different. In some way or another they are all broken. They compare injuries, length of time in the hospital, and always, ALWAYS are quick to offer a word of encouragement to each other. I stood in the midst of that room wondering if this is really a field of work I could go into. Today they were all pretty down, and life had dealt them a hand that gave them every right to feel the way they did. Yet in the midst of their pain and tears they were encouraging others. My dad was ready to go, and so was I. It felt like my energy was being completely depleted. It was like I could feel their pain and their hurt and it was very intense. On the way home I tried to convince my dad to go visit with Mr. Pogany and we agree on 'tomorrow.'
Upon arriving home I went to the DMV with my little sis, trying to transfer my dads tag from his truck to a van that he had bough one month before he had his stroke. He wanted to fix it up and sell it. With the truck going down, and my dad always being there to help the 'new' guy....well one of those guys were able to come back and repay the favor. He was so happy to be able to do something to help my dad that nobody else could. He fixed the van - water pump, radiator, complete brakes, calibers, rotors, valve stem on one of the tires and gas cap....he did this at cost for my mom! So today was the day we finished it up - got a tag on it. We thought we could do it but they explained they needed him since his name was on the title. This might have presented a bit of an obstacle as he told me all morning about everything he can't do....We stopped back by the house and I told him he could have lunch with grandma and I would be back to pick him up around 1:30 so he could go to the DMV with me. We sat in the DMV for an hour and twenty eight minutes....it took exactly two minutes and $4.60 for them to do what we needed them to......meanwhile my mom had snagged Seth and he was hanging out with her in her classroom.
I told my dad we would have to go get Seth, he didn't want to go in the school, it was about 40 minutes after dismissal. I knew there wouldn't be a lot of people but I also knew he was nervous about going in and being around people, some of whom have not seen him since before his stroke. This was way out of his comfort zone. I finally convinced him to go in - he walked the long hallway and the two flights of stairs and another long hallway before walking into my moms classroom. I think she may have been a little surprised. My moms team teacher came down just to say hi to him. He started trying to talk to her and he go frustrated and started to get sad. Today seemed to be a more difficult day for talking than what other days have been. I told him it would a short visit and I didn't want him to get too upset in front of her because I know that would have made him more upset. We headed out the door to get the boys home so they could finish homework. As we were walking down the hallway I could see tears gathering in the corner of his eyes. I hated the fact that he was getting upset. I encouraged him that all this would come back in time. As we took our final step down the flight of stairs, God intervened and somebody who I don't even know, a teacher at my moms school who has been following my dads story online, happened to cross our path. She looked at him straight on and said "You are amazing! I have been following your recovery on the internet and facebook and you have an amazing support and amazing family. You have made so much progress, keep working hard. You are amazing!" My dad said "thank you, bye bye." He gave her a hug and as she turned to walk away I noticed tears in her eyes! She has been inspired by my dad. My dads entire attitude seemed a little brighter from that moment on. His shoulders were back, he was looking up. I can't tell you how much it means to me that Ms. Iryna Conway was bold and stepped up to tell my dad how amazing he is. She nurtured a human spirit that was in great need of encouraging. What she provided, what she gave, in her words....is the greatest thing we could have asked for today.
So much of the afternoon was 'off'....the DMV wait was long and the long wait put me late to get Seth which meant having to go into the school to get him from my moms classroom which meant a lot of convincing to get my dad to go in....but had all that gone according to 'my plan' then he might not have been given that dose of nurturing to his spirit that he greatly needed.
I often times wonder what somebody would say at my funeral, and if there echos would find me where ever my soul was....but the longer I live, the more I realize the importance of speaking life and love and encouragement to others....don't wait - as cliche' as it is - it still holds true - life can change in an instant and we aren't guaranteed tomorrow. Is there anything you would want to say to somebody today, that if they died tomorrow, would leave you feeling sad that you didn't say?
Oh yeah -- I spent the ride home telling my dad how PROUD I was of him for pushing through the fear of going into the school and going into the DMV and getting the car registered. I told him how PROUD I was of him for getting up today, even though he didn't feel like it. I told him that his life is an inspiration to people he doesn't even know. I told him he has to keep trying. I told him he has to keep practicing. I told him we still need him. I told him I would get him a chocolate milk shake for how great he did today!