The Unexpected Present

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Climbing Mt Everest

glacier iceland snow landscape

One more day. It seems like a blur from that time last week when Yuri came home. Instead of Wednesday, June 23rd, Thursday, June 24th will be noted as Yuri’s Independence Day – untethered from the medical machinery, untangled from the tubing, and free of swathes of hospital bedsheets. His arrival by stretcher simulated the litter, a human-powered transport, carefully transferring him into the Turchyn Home Rehab Center. Nell regaled us with a Welcome Home caterwaul meow of recognition. She missed him, too.

With another full, super moon shining over us, we slept in the same bed together after eleven weeks of Uncertainty, Hell Week, and finally Yuri, the Success Story, fresh out of rehab. It didn’t last the entire night, however as the antique brass bed isn’t exactly the comfortable queen bed on the second floor and Yuri needed the space, but we shared it long enough for the human touch therapy we both so desperately needed to realize we are awakened from such an agonizing nightmare.

The next three days became a whirlwind of short-lived panic attacks– can I really do this? more logistics– a primary care physician– who has yet to see Yuri as a first-time patient coordinated with Home Care; med pickups– 16 medications and a Visiting Nurse visit who mercifully created a color-coded med chart for what Yuri is supposed to receive Morning, Afternoon, Evening, and Night. She checks his vitals, trach wound and bedsore wound courtesy of Hell Week spent after the ICU release and before transport to rehab. But the best part is Yuri is home. Healing.

One of the happiest moments upon his arrival, settling in a comfy chair amid the flurries of activity as I try to beat the clock before the entire schedule is thrown (or flown) out the window was the Quiet. The peaceful feeling of Quiet. I dropped from sheer exhaustion but Yuri leaned back, smiling to himself listening to the summer breeze filtering through the screen door, reveling in its serenity. We are relearning to share in these moments. Just like we did before.

There is going to be so much physical work since Yuri cannot stand, walk or move about as freely as one may think. If he’s at that stage should he be discharged or shouldn’t he remain until fully recovered? Ergo, should he be released from Rehab? Absolutely. He wants to be home. The Visiting Nurse reminded us it will take seven days for every week Yuri was bedridden as well as Rehab learning the exercises for physical, occupational, and speech/swallowing therapies.

That’s seventy-seven days, almost three and a half months. It will be grueling and cannot be rushed because we don’t want to deal with setbacks. There will be the highs (today he is able to pull himself up from a lying to sitting position) and lows (we still haven’t tested the three-foot ramp in the hall to get out the door for doctor’s appointments). It’s worth every minute of tasks required.

It’s also a bit like taking to the Summit of the Himalayas. Now, I’ve trekked the Outback to Uluru Rock after an REI Adventure tour along the Australian Coast and Great Barrier Reef; been on an archeological dig in Caesarea Maritima in Israel; worked a month-long film shoot in the Georgian Highlands (Georgia the Republic, not the State) where I negotiated with mountain highlanders for their horses, planned and implemented a production schedule that was a logistical nightmare. I know. I know. It was a long time ago and I was much younger then, but the foundation is the same. Focus. Be mindful.

So, I tackle Yuri’s Rehab-at-Home undertaking as any indie producer would. One bite at a time with many things coming at you at all at once. I imagine we are on our way in the Himalayas, consisting of a series of parallel ranges that rise up from the Ganges River basin to the Tibetan plateau. Its backbone is the Great Himalayan Range, the highest mountain range in the world, with several peaks rising to over 25,000 feet, the highest being Mount Everest. We’re at the first stage.

Yet, we’re happy to be where we are because we are no longer separated by institutional parameters, stymied by hospital rules and state-mandated protocols (Covid rules did not allow being outdoors in the Courtyard), or driving long distances. The only way to go is up. Every day, Yuri is making progress. I marvel at his motivation and tenacity in what we have accomplished, where, and what we need to do next will come tomorrow. It’s not over. This challenging adventure is just beginning. The music is back.

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