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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Walking in the Early Morning Fog

Oak tree draped with Spanish Moss
 in our neighborhood this a.m.
This morning, I took Boomer for a walk. The fog was so thick, you could hardly see to the end of the block. It felt like walking through a stage set of the first scene in a horror movie. It was eerie and haunting and sadly beautiful.

Which rather put me in a reflective mood...

about starting a new year and not knowing what lies ahead...

And for a minute, I thought it was raining. I could hear the rain, but couldn't see it. Even Boomer looked up, expectant of rain. Then I realized it was only the sound of the leaves trembling in the breeze...

Later, Boomer and I turned a corner and there ahead of us, in the alley, sat a cat in the fog. And I thought, oh look, a kitty. But as we neared it, I could tell something was wrong with that cat. Then the cat looked up at us with its pale white face and pointy ears and I was startled to realize it wasn't a cat at all, but a possum. And I thought, sometimes, things aren't what they appear to be. Especially in the fog...

Last week, Bob and I went to see Dr. Doom. He's the ear, nose, throat doctor. This was a follow-up from the video swallow test that Bob had in November. I knew the test results weren't good as I had spoken with the speech pathologist afterwards, but to see this stuff in writing. To see "The Final Report" just sort of brought things home.

Phrases like: "severe impairment in the pharyngeal phase" and "decreased laryngeal elevation" and "delayed swallow reflex."

Like: "penetration, silent and weak". Or "pharyngeal constriction".

The Pink House on the Corner in the morning fog
And: "spillage into valleculae", "spillage into pyriform sinuses", "labial spillage".

And this: "There was significant pooling of matter in the valleculae and pyriforms that could be released only a small amount at a time, with multiple consecutive effortful swallows. The effort he must make will not release enough for nutrition and hydration and he will aspirate quickly from exhaustion..."

And finally this conclusion:  "He will not be able to nourish/hydrate himself by mouth and with even slightly greater consumption by mouth, he will aspirate."

The doctor went through the test results and gave me a copy. He called the results "terrible" and he didn't see a reason for a follow-up appointment, or a reason for another video test, unless, of course, I wanted one in a year or so. But he pretty well thought it was hopeless, because Bob has done every known therapy for swallowing, all the exercises and even the vital stim (electrical stimulation of the throat).

This morning, while walking through the fog, I told myself that one must accept some things in life. That there are some things that no matter how hard you try, you just cannot change. Like fog. Or the inability to swallow.
Bob's peg tube.

That there are worse things than having a feeding tube for the rest of your life....

When I got home, after I fed the dog, I sat next to Bob as I usually do in the morning. He looked at me and asked, "Sad?"

I said, "No, not sad. Just thinking."

He asked, "Thinking?"

"About stuff. About what to blog about today."

He said, "Oh, happy! Happy, happy!"

"Write something happy? Happy about what?"

"Well," he said, then thought about it. Then he pointed to his paralyzed leg and said, "Legs... and um... Ouch!" he pointed to his good leg which has been bothering him, "and..." he pointed to his paralyzed arm, "Arms. And um.... you know?" He tried to lift his head into a neutral position. "Creeek creeek!" he said as his neck fell back into its usual bent position. Then he said with a half shrug, "Oh well!"

I looked at him skeptically, because none of this was "happy" stuff.  I said, "Well, that will surely make everyone reading my blog happy."

"Well?" he said, then made a sort of grand sweeping motion with his good hand. A motion taking in and indicating the whole room, maybe the whole house, or maybe just me and him. He said, "But happy!"

Which made me smile.

"I love you," I said.

And he said, "I love you more! And more!  And more-and-more-and-more!"

You know, I tell you, you gotta love this guy. Sometimes, I think, this stroke stuff bothers me more than him....

And I remind myself, this morning, that fog does eventually lift. That sometimes, you think it's raining, when it's really only the leaves rustling in the trees... That a cat in the fog can turn into a possum. That things aren't necessarily what they appear to be. Meanwhile, it might be foggy and eerie and haunting and sad, and you can't see the road ahead of you. But if you look at things in the right perspective, you just might find something beautiful and real right in front of you.


Cheri said...


Jenn said...

And you might find, through that fog of post-stroke, many more miracles ahead. So what? If Dr. Doom thinks what he thinks. So what? If there's no follow up swallow test. We are limited in more ways than what is in front of us....then again....we are not. Only when the fog lifts will we know! Great post today. Love you both <3

Anonymous said...

When the fog lifts, the sun is normally shinning brightly around white fluffy clouds. It appears to me Bob is the sunshine in your life, recognizing and supporting you when you are sad or feeling down. The love you both share for one another is so bright and warm, there should never be any fog in your lives. Maybe a few fluffy clouds now and then, but no fog.

Hugs, Dan

barbpolan said...

What if Bob's "Happy" was not about what to write, but about how HE was feeling?

Isn't that what you both want for each other? To be happy. He's there, how about you?

Susan said...

Beautifully written. Thought provoking. This gives me pause for reflection in my own life.

Thanks for sharing.

Rebecca Dutton said...

You are such a good writer. You really know the difference between show instead of tell. Loved reading this post.