Sunday, January 10, 2016
Today I awoke to a light snow fall outside my window. At first I said, "Oh, shit!" Then I found myself gazing quietly out at the lacy twigs and branches and the softly drifting snow flakes and I said, "Wow! It's beautiful!" And it was.
Not predicted, not expected, but a gift of quiet and a much needed small joy nonetheless.
I have been trying to rest yesterday and today. Just hang around the cottage, do some laundry, eat some good food, watch football and comedies, and hang out with my 4 girls.
Martha has also been resting and we have talked on the phone every few hours. There is no therapy on the weekend, so she has had a reprieve. Tomorrow at 7am the ball starts rolling again for a full day of PT, OT, ST, and breakfast, lunch, and dinner for her.
I think about spring and I long to walk along the local wooded rail trail pathways that run not far from here. Ohio has some of the most fantastic rail trails running north from the Ohio River area and all throughout the state.
The Ohio to Erie Trail and the Little Miami Bike Trail are the most notable in my area of southwestern Ohio.
Before I moved out into the rural area in 2006 I was an avid bicyclist. I had a recumbent bike, a recumbent trike, a road bike, and a mountain bike. I had really gotten involved in cycling as my primary passion starting back in 2001.
I was visiting the bike trails 3-4 times a week in those days and had built my fitness level up to where I was doing 50 mile round trips rides regularly. I loved it and became quite the "bikeaholic" as noted by the number of bikes I owned.
Once we moved out to the farm house in the summer of 2006 I rarely visited my beloved trail system which was 50 miles west. I decided to try to ride out there on rural lanes and in the villages, but it was not the same for me.
I longed for the quiet rides along the river on the bike paths where I did not have to deal with cars and all the tension and fumes and anxiety that comes from riding among them. So I more or less quit riding bikes.
By 2007 I had purchased my first scooter, the Ruckus, and that became my "getaway tool" of choice. Eventually the bikes all got sold during the Great Recession amid lay-offs and sparse income.
Once I got back here in 2012 near the bike paths I had the desire to ride again, but it never took hold. I was still on the scooter but working to obtain at least 2 bikes again, which I eventually did. They got sold this summer due to my inability to get hired in a decent paying job. It broke my heart to let them go, but times were hard.
They still are, but I am once again dreaming of getting back on a bike on my beloved bike paths. I belong to the Rails-To-Trails Conservancy and see the awesome rides that members post on their Facebook page.
I long to ride on those quiet rural routes away from cars and noise and pollution, to escape into nature as I always did on the scooter out in the country.
But "cars and noise and pollution" are just about all that I experience riding my scooter while living in here and I am ready to give it up until I move back out in the country. That could be next year or the next, I do not know. I am no longer focused on that as I have a job here and Marty's health care providers are here.
Anyway, that's right, I said give up scooter riding in here. It's no longer fun, it never felt safe, and I found myself doing it less and less.
It also felt more and more lonely as I know no one who rides a scooter or motorcycle and I got tired of always being out alone on the back roads.
It actually became boring and a chore that I avoided more and more.
If I can ever get a bigger scooter (150cc+) then I might scoot out from here to the countryside that I love. But for now it is too far and too tedious to try to do that from this location and I am letting go and focusing on getting back on a bike.
So my last scooter is up for sale and I have already picked out the bike I hope to replace it with, another Townie 21D in Matte Black. A stunningly beautiful beast!
Not only all of that, but I have lost SO MUCH fitness by riding the scooter alone. I want to get back on the bike to recover my legs and my lungs and ride like I used to do.
I don't think it's too late because I have a very physical job and my body has been able to adapt to that kind of strenuous activity and I have gotten leaner and stronger just doing that labor.
It has also sunk in my brain that I am THE caregiver for my little family. I know that every time I rode that scooter in this area that I took a risk of being hit by a car and injured to the point that I could have become disabled or worse.
I was never actually afraid, but I always knew it was a risk. I am no longer willing to take that risk. It is just not worth it to me and the impact on my family would be devastating.
Then there's this: the quiet ride of the bike, gears whirring, smells from the wooded trail, the sounds of birds over head, the peacefulness of riding a bike along where other riders pass you from time to time. Just the immersion in the experience and the community of fellow riders is something I long for and miss.
I loved the feeling of working the lungs and muscles and heart, the joy of physicality in the pure simple pleasure of riding a bike. I need the work-out on so many levels.
I miss it, I do. I want it back. I want to eye my bike in the living room over the winter and sneak in a ride on decent sunny days as the spring breaks through.
Bicycle dreams, long dormant, are flowing through my brain like the run off from a long frozen mountain stream. Where or why I do not know, but it is happening.
I am now watching Ebay with the anticipation of a scooter sale and the ride over to the bike shop to pick up my black beauty!
Something new is emerging, joy is stirring around in my heart for the ride, I am having bicycle dreams and it feels really, really good!
Saturday, January 9, 2016
So it's been 20 days since the first appearance of stroke and the rush to the local emergency room. Within 7 days of that first day there was another emergence of stroke in the same area of the brain. They said not an additional stroke, but an "evolving" stroke.
What that meant is that she went from being able to lift her left arm fully, use her hand, and stand strongly on both legs.
That is gone for now with the second episode.
Two weeks in the hospital, now one week in the rehab hospital.
She is getting physical, occupational, and speech therapy for 3+ hours a day. I only know what is happening from her telling me on the phone or if I visit and observe. There are so many "players" in this production and I often feel so in the dark.
At the hospital I could stay longer, watch TV with her at night, eat a meal in the room, even sleep over in the recliner chair to keep her company or dispel my deep sense of loneliness in being the only family, only caregiver, only one dealing with all of this.
I miss that setting. Now I have to do short visits, there is no place to sit, I cannot eat with her or hang out and watch TV with her to keep her company and fend off my constant sense of separation and trickling loss.
I come home to our 4 dogs and the emptiness of the apartment which constantly reminds me she is not here.
Our world has been turned upside down and will never, ever be the same.
Every day in rehab is a day of hope and struggle. She has made some progress in being able to sometimes move her left arm and being able to stand for 30 seconds at a time.
They are talking discharge to home in 2 weeks and I can't imagine. Can't imagine how we will manage here and can't imagine her going to a nursing home setting. Maybe for more rehab, but then if I can manage her here physically I know that the best option is for her to get home care rehab and be at home.
We will do this in this tiny apartment, somehow. I am looking at space and taking measurements and mustering up all my past nursing aid and home health social worker experience to focus on how to get Marty home and manage her care here.
There's days I can't imagine how we will do this, but then I can't imagine life without her either.
Just like I couldn't imagine how our life could totally change within a few moment's time like it did back in December.
But it did and it can for anyone. Take nothing for granted, spend precious time with your loved ones, realize that your life can change in the blink of an eye.
Meanwhile, like the hope for an early spring we hold hope for miracles. The simple movement of a hand, the surge of strength to stand and walk again.
Where there is love there is hope...
Friday, January 1, 2016
On December 20th, Sunday, my life partner of 25 years was taken to the hospital by the life squad. She is still there.
My emotions are too raw and my body to exhausted to go into detail, but basically what it comes down to is that she has suffered what are called "evolving strokes" in the past 2 weeks.
Her mind is clear, she can speak, but she has lost the use of her left arm as of last Friday. She can move her legs but is too weak to stand for more than a minute.
She is beyond exhausted, but her spirit is amazingly strong.
The doctors and therapists are hopeful for a full recovery and have been very encouraging.
We are in the process of getting her into the best stroke rehab program in the area. She may go today if a bed opens up. Now we are just waiting on that.
My prayer is that she will eventually be able to come home and continue to get her therapy here through home health care and proceed to full recovery.
Please keep her in your prayers. Her name is Martha and she is only 66 years old.