Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The First One -- Summer of Recovery

The summer of 2005 was different. I wasn't employed but I was working, I was full of anxiety and working extremely hard, working for Marty. When we came home in June I was terrified. I didn't know what I needed to do or how to do it. Daughter Erin helped get me organized with all of Marty's medication -- there was a lot. Friends offered varying degrees of support but I knew Marty and I had to do this ourselves.

Marty kept going to speech therapy to work on her short term memory. I would go with her and sit with her during the sessions and try not to answer the questions for her. I still don't understand why I would get so anxious if she didn't know an answer or couldn't remember the three things she was asked to remember. It was like when the kids were playing Little League baseball, I didn't want them to feel bad about striking out but By God they needed to hit the ball. I didn't want Marty to feel bad about forgetting the three things -- but it seemed such a simple thing. But, it's only simple if your brain hasn't been assaulted.

Marty's memory got better and better, the therapy really did help. She did not have any swallowing issues, hell, I didn't even know about strokes and swallowing issues until so much later.

Marty was clearly weak and her affect, her personality, which had always been pretty hot and volatile, was now very flat. She didn't seem overly sad, but she didn't get really happy anymore, it was just pretty flat. The vasospasms had burned out some of her anger and passion. Remarkably I found I missed that.

In July we finally went back to Zale-Lipshy in Dallas for the doctors to make Marty's head round again. Since April she had been missing the front left part of her forehead. In July they gave it back to her. It sounds so simple, yet we are talking about messing with another person’s skull. It's okay if we are talking about your skull - but this was my wife's skull.

The surgery went well and again we came home. I wished they had told me about some of the after effects of the anesthesia. When we got home Marty's level of confusion was amplified, her cognition simply was not very good. I was more than a little distressed, I was horrified. We had worked so hard for so long to get back to a base level and now it seemed we had taken a giant step back.

I remember sitting in the bathroom crying, I was just emotionally exhausted, I really didn't think I could do any of this any more, when Marty shuffles in and pats me on the shoulder and said, "It's going to be okay". The woman with the stitches in her head, the woman who should have died, this woman crawled out of her bed and came to comfort the man who was supposed to be giving comfort. She may have lost part of her fire but she didn't lose her love. I know I have told this story countless times, but it was a moment of epiphany for me.
As the Texas summer melted all of us Marty continued her recovery. We stayed with Speech Therapy, her memory got better and Marty slowly became more and more independent. We had Marty's 51st birthday party in August. It was a meaningful celebration; not just of her birth but her continued life. She sang with her all female chorus and enjoyed the company of friends and family and I cried. Somewhere in all of this I became a real titty baby -- I couldn't stop the water works at even the dumbest of things.

We got through the summer and the fall. Marty's independence and stubbornness about things increased. She wanted to drive herself where she needed to go, I eventually relented after going on a couple of white knuckle test drives (I don't ride with anyone well), she wanted to go to lunch with friends alone, she wanted to eat when she was ready and she wanted to control her own medicines. All of this was my Marty, all good signs of recovery.

In December we went to a Psychologist for cognitive testing. The results showed her IQ had been damaged but she could still be reasonably independent though it was also clear she would not work again. Marty's once dynamic personality was different, she was much quieter and internal; I had to carry pretty much all of the conversations. This was hard for her kids, it was hard for her friends, it just wasn't the same Marty, but she was alive, walking and caring for herself.

At Christmas we went to the panhandle of Texas to be with Marty's Mother for her 80th birthday and to celebrate Christmas. We then went to the mountains in New Mexico to snow ski.

Somewhere alarm bells should have sounded in my head. I really should have thought better than to take Marty to the mountains where the air is thin. We had to cut our trip short and come down early because it was just too much for her and she simply felt lousy. We came down, spent the night in Dalhart and then drove home to Waco. Then on January 3, 2006, on our 30th wedding anniversary our world exploded again.

No comments: