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Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Vanilla Scented Candle

The other night, I had a strange dream. In the dream, I heard a noise, so I went to the front door. Outside, the street was lined with semitrailers. Four of them, bumper to bumper, blocking the entire street. The trailers were flatbeds, and the one directly in front of our house was loaded with brightly wrapped presents adorned with silver bows. I went outside. There was a crowd of women on the street. Women were giddy and laughing, they had shopping carts and paper bags and they were going from trailer to trailer selecting gifts. I walked down the line of trucks and saw the next trailer was filled with candles. I reached in and picked up a candle, which smelled strongly of vanilla and was decorated with butterflies. I was thinking how pretty the candle was and how nice it would be to put on our mantel when someone put their hand on my shoulder.

I turned around and saw a large burly man dressed like an old fashion police officer. White shirt, black tie, black cap. He wrenched that candle right out of my hand and I said, "Hey!"

He said, "Sorry, you're not qualified to be here."

In my dream, I sputtered something about the trucks were right in front of my house and who were all these women and why wasn't I qualified if they were? So he led me down the block to an old house, one of those dream houses that do not exist outside this dream. We went up a long narrow staircase which ended at a tiny room crammed with desks and file cabinets. There were about ten people working in this room. The police officer picks up a file folder from one of the desks and pulls out a sheaf of papers and begins to read off "the qualifications" which start out with "you must be between 25 and 45 years old." The cop has a cell phone in his pocket which starts ringing but he ignores it and keeps reading off the "qualifications" which include "you must have been a one-time resident of the local battered women's shelter" and "you must have an ex-husband with the first or last name of Ethan", and I'm thinking that cell phone is really irritating, why doesn't he answer it? And then I wake up.

But I can still hear that darn cell phone.

Then I realize it's not a cell phone, but Bob's feeding pump alarm signaling that it's finished. So I drag myself out of bed, disconnect the pump, flush it with hot water, prepare Bob's medications, syringe them into his tube, change his bed pad, boost him up in bed and get him fresh water and towels. Then I turn on the radio to Bob's favorite station, get dressed, leash up the dog and head out for our morning walk.

The minute I reach the sidewalk, the cool morning air hits my face and I remember that dream and, like a complete idiot, I break down in tears. Right there on the street.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about physical therapy and how on earth to progress Bob past walking on the rail as we've been doing that for over six months and he seems to be sort of stuck at a standstill. The last time that Bob had an appointment with his primary care doctor, I asked him if it would be possible to get a script for Physical Therapy so that Bob could return to Outpatient Rehab and the doctor told me that "Outpatient Rehab was not set up for people with a chronic condition such as Bob's". Which I don't understand because I know of so many stroke survivors who continue to get outpatient rehab long after that first year stroke anniversary.

And I wonder if, like in my dream of the vanilla scented candle, Bob just does not qualify for help once again. Or if we've just been dealt an unlucky hand of bad doctors and even worse therapists in the past.


Linda said...

Oh the nightmares. Hugs for Diane.

Keeping in mind I am not an expert
"But anyhow"---

How would you do with a walker? (I think the kind with only 2 wheels and 2 skids and you can adjust up properly for his height) I was thinking that would have potential for changing the environment so it would feel new. Maybe in the house a bit and eventually a goal to get down your front sidewalk?

Another thought I had was playing kick the ball from seated and trying to alternate legs-- that should be safe and work on knee and foot extension. I wonder if the dog might help and fetch and you could just line it up in front of Bob for kicking! I had some fun but pitiful experience tossing a frisbee with my bad hand and a daughter playing fetch.

One thing our Tai ji lady has the wheel chair people do is to work on shifting balance while seated from "cheek to cheek" and trying to keep the upper body upright.. don't be a leaning tower. As that begins to go better she started putting a block under a foot, like a box of laundry detergent on it's side. More shifting from side to side. A mirror to look in might help too. That would work the hip joint and balance.

Our Stroke Recovery Association has a Tuesday group exercise with a physiotherapist (hired by the association) and we each paid $5 for a half hour session. I went to that for a long time. We did a lot of exercises seated at a big table. I will look up a list of exercises I had from her later.
One that some of the more confused wheelchair people liked was her telling us to kick the bottom of the table. She wanted to hear it loud (the point being to use force in lifting) to know we were really doing it. You start with the less affected leg for a certain number of reps to model the movement and then switch legs. Believe me a few of those guys were really into getting to kick something and willing to work very hard at it.

Anonymous said...

Hey friend, I think you are doing a fantastic job. Sorry I can't come up with more. Your dream was pretty intense. I think you are strong and very capable. Love, Patricia

Barb Polan said...

My PT recently told me that if my insurance company were to audit my case, I would most likely lose my PT coverage - because "all the stroke studies show that there's no improvement after the 2-year anniversary."

Somehow, Bob's roadblock seems set at one year.

My attitude is that I ask a doctor for a script and then convince the PT center to let me keep coming as long as the insurance company doesn't say no to paying.

They often "interpret" the wording of scripts to be in my favor. I'm not complaining.

Rebecca said...

I've received out-patient therapy 3 times in 8 years by getting a presciption from my doctor at the in-patient rehab facility that admitted me right after my stroke. My post "A Physiatrist Has My Back" may be helpful. I go to the out-patient department of this in-patient facility. I wouldn't trust the therapists at a free-standing out-patient clinic who see lots of orthopedic clients to be up to date on stroke rehab.

Rebecca said...

P.S. I published the post "A Physiatrist Has My Back" on April 30.

Jenn said...

Excellent, Linda!!! Yes! Great ideas worth a try. Go for it!!!!