Saturday, July 30, 2011

Weekend Watch

We sit; Keith and I, at Carolyn's bedside watching her. Watching her. Waiting for....what? We are here in Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska at our gal's bedside. We are silent as if on sacred ground; allowing her to rest and sleep which is something we hadn't seen her do much previously. She is worlds improved from the last time I'd seen her and that's been a while. "A while" is only a couple of weeks, but in many ways it has felt like a lifetime. Her husband Jim has kept us duly abreast of her condition thanks to his CaringBridge journal but Keith and I realized that we had gained solace from the daily visits in Kansas City and every move or sign of improvement, no matter how seemingly trivial, gave us reason for hope.

I missed her last few days at KU Med thanks to my own throat infection and by the time I had healed, Carolyn had been transferred here as it is a well-known facility for treating brain injuries. It is about a three-hour jaunt here to Lincoln and that journey is made more arduous by the massive river flooding that has taken over some of Interstate 29. We took Troy and Sarah's suggestion and started off on the scenic route of Highway 92. We sailed over the rolling hills of Highway 92 past the stately horse farms and through a storm so heavy and dark, it felt as if we had driven through a particularly sinister portion of an enchanted forest. We cruised Highway 36 past sunlit amber waves of corn. Soon, we had passed more waves of corn and eventually, I thought if I saw one more amber wave, I might start nervously looking for the Children of the Corn themselves; all blond and corn-fed and armed with pitchforks and looking for a couple of fancy city boys to invite over for the main course. Oh, geez, sorry, there goes my over-media-saturated imagination off the chain again....that scary scenario would never happen, right? RIGHT?

We arrived here to the hospital in Lincoln and as I said, were relieved to see Carolyn looking more rested and aware. This journey clearly remains a long one and my thoughts again are with Jim and the family as they take this heart-wrenching journey with Carolyn. I'm also so very thankful Carolyn has Jim who, despite his exhaustion, seems tireless and so courageous in his determination to bring her back to all of us. Jim spends the week here and the Posse takes turns on weekend shifts and this weekend is mine and Keith's. We watch her sleep; her breathing so much less labored than before outside of the occasional clearing of the throat. That clearing of the throat is typically an unpleasant sound from anyone but from her its wonderful; a sign that she's doing it on her own and needing less help. We thrill to seeing her eyes blink and follow us around the room. When her eyes move our way, we quietly smile at her and each other. She seems to smile back and in actuality, that may be a grimace but since we don't know; we are calling it a smile. The silence around us is only broken by the comforting whir of a fan. She seems peaceful.

We stepped out for a fine lunch at Lazlo's Brewery and Grill where I nursed a seasonal smoked chipotle ale over a creamy, cheesy crisp Armenian flatbread called a lahvosh. This was the Voodoo Chicken Lahvosh with blackened chicken, a three-cheese cream sauce and sauteed onions. It may seem a bit disconcerting to continue my usual loving descriptions of food in the course of this post, but Carolyn loved my blog and shared my enthusiasm for food and would love hearing about this. After lunch, we did our therapy exercises with Carolyn, including massage and stretching as encouraged by Jim and watched over her as her lungs would be cleared and blood was drawn. After each treatment, we would return to her side and rub her index finger which relaxed her and attached the earbuds of her iPhone to her so that she could soothe to her beloved Mary Chapin Carpenter. We read her cards to her and reassured her that she was coming back to us; oh yes, indeed, she was coming back to us. I reveled in that stiff upper lip look she would get, because that just looked like the stubborn determination Carolyn is known for.

I can't get my photos to download so I'm going to post without them for right now. I'll add the photos when I can, including one of her spankin' new pedicure, which I'm assuming is Kiko's handiwork. I will write more when I can. Keep those thoughts and prayers coming, folks.


Anonymous said...

I recall one of my students who had a tramtic brain injury last year from an auto accident. First it was eyes following friends and family around the room. Then it was therapy and little improvements. Then five months later she walked back into my classroom. It's a process, and I'm so happy Carolyn has the support of wonderful folks like you. - Ronnie

Confounded Cook said...

Thank you,'s stories like these that help keep us going.

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