Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Mr. Wilson Wakes Up.

When we had left Brian the happy night before, we debated if he would need a "Brian-sitter" since he hadn't really been alone in the ICU and was getting more awake and active.  In the end, we decided a little reluctantly to see how he did alone and play it by ear.

Playing by ear resulted in Mr. Wilson waking up around four in the morning. He pulled out the dubhoff feeding tube Marisyl had meticulously placed the day before, removed his cervical collar (neck brace for the fracture there) and said, "I want to go home."

His escape efforts were rewarded with a hospital paid CNA sitter to make sure he would keep his collar on and not pull anything else. They called me early to keep me in the loop and again, I got there as soon as I could, already awake hearing one of the marvelous work crews that got busy doing things that neither I nor Brian would be able to.  That day was a landscaping crew who mulched our flower beds and dug a trench to the garden to lay a sprinkler system there.

I found him sound asleep and the night shift gal had stayed over two hours until I got there. I thanked her profusely and sent her on her way. I wanted to be involved in Brian's care and if I was there already it didn't make sense for them to be paying someone to sit with us.  The charge nurse and I agreed they'd provide a night sitter and we'd be the day time sitter.

Brian slept and slept and they sent him down for another CT of his head, thinking maybe he had another bleed or something going on since he wouldn't be roused.  Of course, they told me this later so I didn't even worry or fret about it, thinking his sleepiness was "normal," still working off the cocktail of drugs he'd been given in the last few days.

It was stable!

Mid morning Brian walked to the door with PT and then worked with OT, writing a chicken scratch version of "B-R-I-A-N" (woo hoo, that parts there!) and doing some other pattern/sequence work.  It was so simple, matching A-1 B-2 C-3 D-4 but after the D and 4, he skipped a letter and couldn't get it to match up.  It made my heart squeeze seeing that.

Before he woke up I would tell myself that he was just asleep.  That he would wake up and be himself, that there wouldn't be anything different and if we could just get him to wake up everything would be okay.

I was quickly learning what everyone meant by this being a marathon and not a sprint. I could see how hard the simple worksheet was for him, and it made me realize to a small degree how much work we had ahead of us.  In some ways I would just focus on what we were doing that day, what Brian was doing and not think about the next day or weeks or months to come. Today was enough.

One of the evenings on the seventh floor one of our beloved Trauma PAs, Liz, had sat our family down and kind of gave us a lecture about what we could expect with a brain injured family member.  I remember wincing as her words hit my ears, and my self shirking back, not wanting to experience what she predicted.

We don't know how his brain has been affected and won't know until he wakes up and begins to recover.  We do say that at 24 months there will be no more measurable recovery.  You are as good as you will get around then.  Brian might be very impulsive and not think things through- which will be very dangerous at home, you'll have to watch him all the time.  Brian will experience mood swings, go from happy to sad to furiously angry, he might take it out on you, Rosa, or the rest of you. It's not Brian, it's the injury. He will have no control of those as his emotions wake up and you'll need to be understanding and patient.  He might be back at work in 12-18 months, but of course we don't know.  Take care of yourselves, you'll need it. 

I remember nodding, I know some about Brain Injuries having taken care of a few here and there. I knew that they can be unsafe and in a hurry about things. And I knew that it would be awhile before my sweetheart would be back to himself and then to me. And I wanted to run away.

Of course I wouldn't. I wanted to, but I wanted to be there, more. Like contractions when laboring for a new baby; at the time, in the middle of them you want them to end, to be over, to be anywhere else, to escape. But you muscle through, as best you can. No one else can do the work for you, and the quicker you go through it, the faster it's over with one of life's sweetest treasures in your arms.

I wasn't laboring for a new baby, but for my husband.

So I inwardly shook my shirking self and told her to get a grip, and for goodness sake: buck up.

After Brian had worked with OT, I helped him take a bath and changed his gown and the sheets on the bed.  I was so grateful for that time with him, to be able to physically do something as if by changing his sheets I was getting him better faster. Of course I wasn't, but it was better than sitting idly by.  It was the first time he was awake enough and with it to chat, so we had a lovely visit.  I (again) going over the accident, who was here and there and what was going on. I asked him if he knew what had happened and he said: My brain is all messed up.

He could tell something was scrambled.

The whole time he was up in the chair he would keep reminding me how hungry he was and he wanted a "Vannnillla En-Shure." It's hard to convey the slow, slurred cadence his speech held, but it reminded me of a person that maybe has cerebral palsy or something.  Our Trauma team that day said Brian could have as many Ensures as he wanted after he passed his swallow evaluation.

We kept him in the chair till Elliot got there with his Nana and Grandma and Brian again tried reaching him saying, Hey Buddy

Photo: I keep a close watch on this heart of mine, I keep my eyes wide open all the time. I find it very, very easy to be true
I find myself alone when each day is through
Yes, I'll admit that I'm a fool for you
Because you're mine, I walk the line. love you babe.

Brian passed his swallow eval with the qualifier the liquids were thick and begged to eat: everything.  He told his dad a hamburger sounded delicious, cereal "perfect" and ate two bowls of thickened cream of mushroom soup, licking his lips and exclaiming how delicious it was.  There was nothing more disgusting sounding than the greyish lukewarm goo I spooned into his mouth, but he loved it. (He still can't believe he happily ate it.) 

We lay him down for the afternoon and he slept alot, as he would be wont to do in the days to come. "I'm done with you now," he would say, or "I'm going to sleep."

The next morning I got there early and joked about us watching Twilight. Since we haven't participated in the vampire craze, I knew he was off when he sweetly agreed that it "sounded nice." Since Saturday was a big work day at our house I planned on not being home really at all. For one thing, it seemed awkward to be there "bossing" people around to work on our shop/yard/garden and for another, I of course wanted to be with Brian.

We spent the day quietly, as most of our close family and friends were at our house working hard. I again helped him take a bath and we chatted a few times, but he mostly rested which is what he needed. He also walked to the door which tired him out.

I made plans to take our Moms out for dinner in celebration of Mother's Day since I obviously hadn't thought about cards or gifts for them, but they had both been so supportive and all around awesome.  It was kind of fun to plan to do something else and get away from the hospital when it was still daylight. We went to Who Song and Larry's on the waterfront and our waitress was as sweet as can be, giving us dessert on the house after learning about Brian's injury.  When he's well again and you come in, I'll give you dessert again, in celebration.

Photo: We are so blessed by our two Mamas every day of the year, but we have leaned extra heavily on them this week! Thank you Jesus! Happy Mothers Day!

When we got back to the hospital, some good friends were visiting and Brian remembered where we had been in our Bible Study before the accident, recalling Paul being in prison and some of the specific verses.  We had some good laughs as Brian also remembered Sandy talking about "sand paper people" (you know, those people who rub you the wrong way but you have to live with them?) he assured her she wasn't one of his. He also asked for that Spanish food... Hornitos? We figured out he was asking for Doritos but didn't think he could have them since the fractures in his mouth still made eating a painful process.
 He reminded me of that nursery rhyme about the girl with the curl down her forehead, but Brian's was when he was tired, he was very very tired and when he was awake, he was wide wide awake! It was as if he knew he had been asleep for almost a week and he wanted to express all the thoughts that had been locked inside. He would launch hour long monologs, waxing poetic on any and all subjects, often loosing his train of thought or not knowing the word for things and would need help remembering. His speech, like I said, was slow and sleepy, it definitely reminded me that it wasn't my Brian, but I was still so happy to hear him expressing himself after his week of silence and knowing that he really was in there.

We left him with plans to return and do a private church service with just our parents.  When I got home I could hardly believe my eyes.  The outside of our house and lawn were immaculate. Not a blade of grass was out of place.  The moon was bright and I could see the gutters had been cleaned, the flowerbeds weeded and a garden painstakingly planted. Not to mention the work that had been done on our shop, electrical wiring put in, things that I didn't even know to look for had been lovingly cared for and tended to. I went to bed, amazed again at God's goodness itself and then the ways it had been shown to us by His people.
Here's what I wrote in my journal that night:

"Eucharisto always precedes the miracle." (Ann Voskamp)  This last week as I have counted gifts through one of the most emotionally draining, heart rending and exhausting weeks of my life, I have found that God is already there, and you can rejoice in the midst of suffering, because He is good. Here's my list of gifts today: 
1.Little fat brown boy smiling and happy to wake up, at home and with Mama 
2. Brian so happy to see me first thing 
3. Napping on the couch and listening to my beloved breathe- sweetest sound 
4. When we went walking once he hugged me twice, AND started calling me Dear again
 5.Dinner to celebrate my two Mama's with Elliot- dessert on the house, thanks to our sweet waitress 6. Brian's slow and sleepy voice, wanting to share his thoughts after a week of silence
 7. Sweet visits with friends from near and far 
8. Jesus being so present and near 
9.Balmy summer air
 10.Our house and shop and yard: perfectly tidy, filling my heart with gratitude.

God is already where you are, and you can rejoice in your suffering, because He is good.


  1. I love that I was there for this part. I love you Rosa. So good your list of Eucharisto.