Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Know When To Laugh

In a nutshell, this week so far has been interfacing with medical care and changes.

On Monday, we said goodbye to Richard’s home-based speech therapist since her insurance-approved time was finished.  We all agreed that transitioning to an outpatient hospital-based therapist would be a good promotion.

On Tuesday we had a return visit to the neurosurgeon in St. Louis.  He completed his part of the disability papers so we could submit them on Wednesday. 

On Wednesday Richard had his first interview with the hospital-based therapist.  Her initial assessment revealed some clear areas to approach for continuing improvement.  After that appointment we headed to the Missouri Veterans Home in St. James to drop off the disability papers. Michael Kleisser and Donetta Iven made our day.  [Could one of you MVH readers, please, pass on to them kudos from us?] We entered armed with papers and plagued with fear and trepidation. We exited recharged with hope and anticipation.  [Tell them – thanks!]

Despite the melancholy weather and other change threats, we had some laugh moments.  Here are three:

When we were driving into St. Louis, we planned to meet a friend for lunch but the restaurant was in the opposite direction from the doctor’s office.  I was making some quick re-routing plans because I was weary of interstate highway driving in the rain.  I decided to turn off to use a state highway to another state highway, both improved roads and the same distance to the restaurant as the interstate.  As I turned onto the state highway Richard scrambled to find the Missouri map in the glove compartment. I was not bothered when he spread it out and refolded it to view the St. Louis metro portion. He asked about my route choice and I waved my hand at the lower corner of the map saying, “It’s somewhere down here.  You know, that road we use to get to Culvers and Starbucks.” Suddenly, he interjected, “You need to turn at the next light. This is Highway 30.” It didn’t look familiar, but he spoke with such clear authority I pulled into the turn lane much to the dismay of the horn-equipped young lady racing up behind me.  As I sat in the left-turn lane at the red light, I knew it was not where I wanted, but Richard was so satisfied with his directions.  I did not have the heart to challenge him.  As I pulled onto Highway 30 I gently said, “This wasn’t the way I had in mind.”  He started to point out another road I could turn on as a “short-cut,” but I said I’d go straight since I saw it took me back to the interstate leading to my destination.  The next day Richard had a hardy laugh when I told him my moral of the story – never trust a brain-damaged man with a map making impulsive route changes. 

Later amid a discussion of job benefits I was bragging to Emory about how clever I was in performing my job as family medical historian. When faced with the admission history form for the new speech therapist Richard simply thrust the form into my hands to complete. I had a list of Richard’s medications in my purse, so I could dispatch the form with haste. Emory looked un-impressed, so I went on to explain that if anyone in the family needed to complete such a form for me there would be no medications to include.  Laura chimed in that such absence of medicines was a part of my professional benefit package as a mom crediting my good health to all those years of lactation.  In the background Richard uttered, “Life sucks.” End of conversation.   

But who could be surprised when noting what Richard had just been up to earlier? He had at times been unable to answer questions with more than a word or two today. In conversation he would just give up. That was until he decided to master his cell phone again.  Back in November we had all upgraded our cell phones, and Richard was the only one to get a phone capable of taking verbal commands. There he was in his recliner today intensely focused on trying to answer the cheeky, British-accented lady’s voice demanding, “Say a command.” His face was one of intense concentration as if he were going to grab the golden ring when she spoke again. “Do you know how funny that looks,” I asked, “seeing you with expressive aphasia let that saucy woman hold you captive?”  He laughed at the spectacle he was making and went back to the phone with a command – “Check … messages.” The saucy voice reeled off an answer. He looked up with a triumphant grin. He had the gold ring.   

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