Monday, April 04, 2005

Blurry days

One of the interesting things about transitioning to outpatient therapy is the way the days blur together. Individually, the days are intermittently tedious and overwhelming as we scurry from home to therapy to home. During the day I flutter about looking for mystery items the therapists want (calendars etc.), working to fit in gym time and trying to do a little work via telecommuting. Things are still in the early stage where I find myself missing coffee [breakfast] and having lunch at 3:30pm.

After her first quite inauspicious day at Stallworth, things lightened up a bit. That is not to say that life was all skittles and beer for any of us. Wednesday was almost as hard as Tuesday as Mom continued to forge through a barrage of testing. As should be apparent on reflection, the only way to truly assess a person's limitations is to place tasks in front of her that she cannot complete. This allows identification of deficits and formulation of a plan of attack. Unfortunately, it also allows total decimation of a person's morale and self-confidence, especially when that person starts prone to self-criticism and doubt. This means that, since Wednesday afternoon, a huge percentage of our family's time has been spent building back up the pluck that the therapy sessions tore down.

Thursday was particularly interesting as Mom pushed through to the last ten minutes before dissolving into an emotional puddle at an unexpected last exercise. It is something we have all experienced- single-minded determination to 'hang tough' crumbling in the final moments after a small hurdle unexpectedly pops up.


Having this happen on Thursday is particularly poignant as Mom has been excused from Friday therapy. Friday is group excursion day. As I have been sneaking Mom out of Stallworth on outings of our own since she was able to sit in the wheelchair for more than ten minutes at a time, she is not considered particularly dis-integrated from society. She is also notably less affected than the other day therapy patients.

Friday we have for outings of our own. This past Friday, the morning was comprised of visits to CT and lab services for imaging and blood work respectively. It was outside CT where God provided his most recent blessing when a dear family friend (Mark Naumann) was placed in Mom's path as I waded through the bureaucracy. Mark suspended his own plans to sit and keep Mom company while I struggled with the orders and doctors. As waiting terrifies Mom, Mark's presence and experience in the imaging department helped allay her concerns and buy me time.

After surviving the doctors, we retreated to Fido to break the fast over java with Kelly. From there to the Greenhills mall for shopping and walking. The improvement in Mom's stamina from the previous week's trip to Lowes was truly astounding.

The rest of the weekend has mainly passed in a sunbeam-drugged blur. I did enjoy a delightful evening out with Shawn Mc and company. Four hours of just being me, not a doctor or a caretaker. Blissful and rejuvenating. My cheeks still ache from all the smiling and laughter.

Shawn made an interesting comment worth repeating: With Mom's release from the hospital, it is hard at times to remember that this does not mean she is back to her old self. I have found this to be especially challenging for Mom to remember. Your continued cards and posts are invaluable in shoring up sagging spirits and self-worth. Thank you all, again and again, for not 'forgetting' Mom now that she is home. Without you, none of us could get through this.

I must sign off now as this coming week is already riddled with doctor appointments and blood draws. We meet with the neurosurgeon for a follow-up tomorrow and with both the ENT specialist and internist Tuesday regarding her ear and coumadin management respectively. I am trying to keep Friday unblemished as it is Mom's birthday. A massage is on the books- her first since the accident- but we have kept the day open otherwise.

With love-



Blogger David said...

To our dearest Pam and her family,

I just wanted to send a small note to share with you the success of today's concert with the Concert Choir. It was a magnificent success, and we sang so beautifully. The concert was dedicated to you, Pam. You were in all of our thoughts as our hearts sang out. The entire show, from beginning to end, had such passion and strength. We all felt your presence at the concert. After being my director for 3 years, how could I not.

We opened with "The Awakening" and closed with a Reprise of it. I don't know if it was a piece that you had chosen to sing or if Brian made the decision to sing it, but I wanted to leave you with you some of the closing lyrics of the song.....

"Awake, Awake! Awake my soul and sing, the time for praise has come. The silence of the night has passed, a new day has begun! Let music never die in me; forever let my spirit sing! Wherever emptiness is found let there be joy and glorious sound. Let music never die in me; forever let my spirit sing! Let all our voices join as one to praise the giver of the sun! Awake, awake! Let music live!"

It was beautiful.

We miss you.


David Sims

1:45 AM  
Blogger Angie Antkowiak said...

Dear Pam and Team Schneller,
How could we possibly forget you?? You are ever in our thoughts and prayers and we know that although you have made it home, the real work has now begun. But just think of how far you've come in such a short time!! Please try to remember that even though the tests and therapy be grueling and unforgiving to the self-esteem, you have made progress that others may only dream about while still lying in their hospital beds. You have triumphed the first leg of the race with your spirit and SMILE still in-tact!

I was also fortunate enough to have attended the Concert Choir's performance yesterday afternoon and it was indeed beautiful. You would have been very proud and they really devoted themselves to song and to you. It was a lovely surprise to find that the women performed a piece written by our own amazing talent, David Childs, and his words rang true..."Weep no more, the flower will bloom another day..." You may feel like the tiny seed pushing through the muddy darkness, but you just keep on will bask in the sunshine, in full bloom once again!

We love you, Pam, and we are ever grateful for ALL of Team Schneller! We look forward to seeing you SOON!

Angie Antkowiak
Vanderbilt Community Choir

7:31 AM  
Blogger Sarah-Elizabeth said...

To Team Schneller...
So happy to hear that although things are hectic they are going well! Unfortunatly I missed the VCC concert but I wish I could have been there to hear it. The whole team has been a real inspiration to everyone who reads this blog, and without these little notes left every little bit, we would be going nutty and adding to the inevitable hectic side by checkin on the wonderful woman we have come to know and love. Pam, your stregth and courage has made an everlasting impression on me, and when I go back and look at the scrapbooks from past tours and see your smiling face in the pictures, and look on here and begin to see that same smiling face, I know that everything is slowly getting back to the norm. Everytime in the past few weeks in my European History class that the professor mentioned Canterbury, it takes me back to the wonderful music the we made in one of the most gorgeus cathedrals in the world, and all thanks to you! With out the wake ups at the crack of dawn, and the speed walking through towns to get to the next destination, BCC would not have been the same! (It also makes me remember the little choir bear that we got you as a choir, it was soooooo cute!) But anyway now that I have gone down memory lane, I hope today that you find the strength and courage to keep your wonderful smile on your face, and keep you spirits up, because we still know our leader is in there, trying her best to get out and get back to normal, and it all starts with a SMILE!!!!
Hugs and Kisses to the whole team...

7:43 AM  

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