Thursday, April 14, 2011

Large and In Charge

Marty was always in charge in some form or fashion. I think she would have said she covered up part of her insecurities by being the smartest person in the room and in charge. She was well read, researched, verbal and in control. Almost every dispute we ever had was about control and trusting the other to be in control, so I have to confess to the same proclivities.

Marty was never a particularly trusting soul. She was always little bit skeptical of people, their motives and their willingness to help, until she really got to know you and until you had proven yourself trustworthy. She trusted herself, a lot of the time she trusted me, but not completely. I understand, total trust, total belief that you can sit and there will be something under you when you sit does not come easy for most of us. For Marty, it’s critical.

When we help Marty move from one chair to another we help pull her up, pivot her on her right leg and then slowly begin moving her down to a sitting position. As Marty bends at the waist and knee and as the helper supports her, she sits, blindly, in whatever chair is there. Most of the time she doesn’t look back, she doesn’t reach back to check for a perch, she simply trusts that there will be something under her when she sits.

Mostly, she has to trust me, believe that I will care for, believe that I will not abandon her, believe that I will do what is in her best interest. That’s a pretty tall order for Marty and I want to emphasize the words “has to”, I think it pains her essence, but she has no choice but to trust me and the others who are here to support her.

I’m often reminded of the old team building, trust building exercise where one person stands on a chair and must fall backward without looking into arms of the group, hoping, the group will catch you. If you were to get dropped once, if you were to feel yourself falling through the waiting arms at all, the trust is busted.

This is Marty’s life, everyday, numerous times, with a wide variety of people; let her slip once, let her feel precarious at all in moving and her trust, which must be a constant, is shaken. This extends to me, the caregivers, the nurses, the doctors, everyone who interacts with her who she must rely on, believe in and trust.

Before the strokes when Marty went to the doctor, because of her background working in the medical community, there was always a question of who was the most knowledgeable about her particular situation. She did a lot of work understanding medical issues, she knew and felt much more comfortable working with medicine, not letting medicine direct her or her care. She could be an awful patient, but she was an immaculately informed and educated patient.

Today, I do the research, I ask the questions, Marty must trust that I will ask the right questions and be immaculately informed and educated. She must trust that her wonderful doctor, Great and Wise, knows what he is doing. Every now and then I can see in her eyes how really hard it is for her to let go, how that informed skepticism is still omnipresent.

I have to trust him too, and while he is a wonderful doctor, this is my very vulnerable wife we are talking about and I’ve never been very comfortable standing on the chair and falling backwards without looking and constantly checking. This is where I Marty teaches me.

At some point in time in your life you have to learn to trust the people who surround you. It helps if you can surround yourself with kind, loving, intelligent people. It’s not necessary to have blind trust but you have to have the courage to trust that the people who love you and care for you won’t pull the chair out from under you when you sit. It’s not an easy thing, especially when you’re used to being in charge.

No comments: