Sunday, July 31, 2011

Weekend Watch (Part 2)

Last night at Carolyn's bedside, we walked in to a welcoming gift....a big, wide smile on her face as she looked at Keith and I intently. Yesterday afternoon, we couldn't tell the difference between a grin and a grimace but this time it was unmistakable. It wasn't necessarily the warm smile we all know; this one seemed a bit shy and sweet but it was an honest-to-God smile and the first one K and I had seen since she was hospitalized. She was searching our eyes and there seemed to be genuine recognition but of course, we just don't know for certain. I will say with certainty that we felt utterly uplifted following this part of the visit...I felt a bit of that Carolyn charm coming through. As I slept last night, I dreamt that Carolyn was nearly kicking me in the face with her right foot.....probably as a result of me trying to will it to happen so hard during her therapy. Keith told me he dreamt of her also.

This morning has been a jolting return to reality. After a seriously satisfying breakfast at Village Inn (I'll elaborate on this next post), we returned to her room to find her righteously restless. We would massage her index finger to relax her but she was almost immediately "storming" after. She was very stiff and fought us and her therapeutic exercises but good. I admit to growing a bit emotional at one point and having to leave the room for a few minutes. I could hear Kiko's voice in my head telling me to cut that out. I'm usually good about keeping it together around Carolyn but she seemed to be fighting so hard and I was imagining her internal struggle; battling against unseen bonds that are keeping her from us. Carolyn is beyond grimacing; she is twisting and gritting her teeth and tossing about so ferociously that she is clearly in the fight of her life and we just want to crawl inside and pull her out. Brain injury is new to me, but this struggle is frighteningly similar to another one I'm all too familiar with. I have watched three members of my own family battle with mental illness of some sort and while this is radically different, the helplessness of trying to live with a brain in distress is all too familiar to me. My thoughts kept slipping back to Dad, who couldn't find the words to tell me that his mind was failing, so he would simply point to his head and look at me sadly. I just can't imagine that feeling of still having enough of your faculties to know that your mind was slipping away but remaining unable to stop it or fix it. My father was old and fighting dementia, though, and this is far different. Carolyn will win this. I recovered from my minuscule breakdown quickly...we are in this fight with Carolyn for the duration.

This is most certainly still Carolyn, though. Her look is distressed but determined and she is fighting. This is not someone simply laying and moaning from pain; this is a woman who is fighting back like nobody's business and THAT most certainly is Carolyn. We take solace in that thought when it feels like we just can't watch her discomfort for another moment. The sounds coming from her seem guttural but to us she looks fiercely determined and that is the Carolyn we know and love. We may not know exactly what is happening inside her mind but we will continue to choose viewing each movement and reaction as a sign of hope.

We say our goodbyes reluctantly....we want to stay and help her fight. Responsibilities demand our return to KC, however, and we bid her our heartfelt farewells until our next Weekend Watch shift.

I will do another post on local Lincoln food. The above photo at right is a card sent and designed by artist Cathy Johnson...the artwork depicts Lenny, Carolyn's dog. The pic at left is of the journal Carolyn's friends keep when we visit. I will say it again, friends...keep those thoughts and prayers coming. Together, we will get Carolyn and her family through this.

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