The Unexpected Present

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Monday Nite Summer

scenic view of lake during sunset

Yuri felt like he missed the Spring season. He did, but he didn’t miss much as it was often raw and rainy fraught with strong winds, passing thunderstorms, sometimes a bit of hail (along with the Hail Mary’s) then a sudden thrust into heat and high humidity. It’s also how he felt about Mondays – distressful times in the morning especially after a frustrating weekend in hospitals and rehab. At home, I see it as an opportunity to nip that mental anxiety moment in the bud and out of bed.

We had to respond physiologically and behaviorally to a complete change in an environmental factor under tightly controlled conditions. The first two weeks had us full throttle until we dropped – full schedule of therapies, doctor appointments, medical equipment, medicinal and nutritional intake. The layout and furniture rearrangement changed to accommodate a wheelchair, rolling walker, transfer from sitting to bed arrangements. It was exhausting but so beneficial for Yuri’s exponentially successful healing process– a remarkable recovery that is astounding to the Home Care team.

Every member contributed their expertise to us both. While the Physical, Occupational, Speech/Swallow Therapies went on with Yuri, I followed along seeing the way the team works not only with him as a patient but also how his surroundings could be used to enhance his motor and balance skills. Sessions begin on Monday, the day Yuri hates the most. A day that usually starts stressfully with what will come during the rest of the week.

These days, Mondays at 9 a.m. jump-start the week with Physical Therapy. Mike is on time and quickly assesses Yuri’s vitals. He questions him on the exercises prescribed and then it’s off to the races. Last end-of-the-week session on Friday Mike had Yuri doing two steps of the stairs. He mentioned that perhaps there should be a regular chair rather than a wheelchair. What a great thought. On Saturday I brought down a sturdy yet comfy bamboo chair that fits perfectly and is better suited at the dining table. A definitive change in the decor as the now-abandoned wheelchair seems unnecessary and cumbersome.

The weekend brought about more changes such as Yuri’s med intake. With Mike and the Visiting Nurse, Lisa concurring the positive direction in Yuri’s medical progress, two medications were deemed uncalled for since his physical situation has dramatically shifted from iffy to pretty darned good. The photo of him having a beer makes him look so much better. It’s so hard to believe that a couple of months ago he went through a dangerous condition(s) that could have irrevocably damaged him physically, mentally, emotionally.

Instead, he’s coming back like gangbusters. It’s not magic. Yuri is determined. He knows what he has to do. The team is sparked by his motivation. They keep his spirits up as well as push him to the limits. Then they ask for just a little bit more. On Sunday, he rests knowing that when Monday comes, Mike will come up with additional exercises for his standing, walking, and climbing stairs. A lot of muscle that he still doesn’t have takes the challenges. He’s one patient dude.

Monday came along as one of the top ten summer days. Warm, not humid. The first cicada (and only one) calling out from the foliage canopy reaching onto our outdoor porch. The 9 a.m. session goes on and I marvel at Yuri walking alongside Mike, tall and strong, with one hand lightly at Yuri’s back keeping him steady. Slightly pigeon-toed, it’s because his hip muscles aren’t strong enough for keeping his feet aligned and facing forward. It’s all about the mechanics of every move we make.

When Mike mentioned getting a walking cane and cancel the wheelchair, I said I’m there. The rest of the day, Yuri’s standing and walking in and out of the kitchen making soup and then dinner. The walking stick keeps him upright and moving – it’s what we both have been waiting for. Independence. Self-reliance. Feeling like being part of the team again. I pour the wine as we enjoy the nightlife on the lakeside. Especially the one cicada. It’s a perfect summer evening.

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