In the first four weeks after surgery Richard would commonly clamp his eyes shut and say, “Too much! Too much!” On gentler days he would dismiss anxieties with a shrug sighing, “Got me.” Now we are hearing those words less. Richard is slower in replying, and we can see on his face that he is working his mind to formulate an answer. While he is having fewer episodes of distress, I am able to see in his eyes when stress is mounting. I was trying to share with the children the marks to read in their father’s face to gauge his mounting stress using a 1-5 scale.
Level 1 – relaxed, smile-ready eyes
Level 2 – smile-absent eyes
Level 3 – two vertical lines appear between his eyebrows
Level 4 – vertical lines plus eyebrows resting on top of eyeglasses
Level 5 – eyes clamped shut
Richard heard the list and approved. That alone was a sparkle of progress.
Oh, yes, speaking of progress. Back in January we, as a family, decided Richard with the brain cyst was an accident risk in driving the car. He appreciated being chauffeured. Post-operatively, it was obvious that he should not be driving if the decisions of mere conversation stressed him. Well, today he drove home from church, all 45 miles. He performed very well. The route was perfect for a first trip since we take a county highway that is not heavily traveled on Sunday mornings. He was focused and deliberate in the spontaneous decisions necessary for safe driving. Nothing seemed to bother him – not even the turn signal. With two left turns and three right turns to get home, he only signaled once and that was when he was turning into our driveway. After entering the house I complimented him on being so energy conservative that he didn’t waste any energy on the turn signal. He put his head back and laughed heartily. With or without the blinker, today’s journey signaled success and progress.