Friday, 8 September 2017

The Rehabilitation Stage of the Story

Well, it looks like I'm right on track for my monthly blog post. You probably can't tell, but that was sarcasm. I used to write *at least* one post a week. Life was... simpler back then (read:no kids)

Anyways, I suppose I should pick up where I left off in the story with my Dad. I've spent a lot of time on the details so far. The details of his accident, and then his first couple of hours, days, and then weeks in the hospital. For the rest of this story to make sense I'm going to have to give you some more details about his (and my) life.

My Dad is an alcoholic. Diagnosed? Admittedly? No, of course not. But make no mistake about it- he has an addiction. I'm not sure how much I want to share, but I can say that my relationship with him for as long as I can remember was shaped by his drinking. And then like a piece of clay that was shaped, it had hardened over time and through fire. And it was shattered, more than once.

I mentioned in a previous post how I had a really hard time emotionally with my pregnancy with Audrey. So, all that in mind, now I had a whirlwind (hurricane?) happen in the last 11 days of my pregnancy. I was already dealing with so many emotions just with pregnancy, and uncertainty about our finances, and just life in general. Now I had to deal with some lifelong hurts resurfacing because of my dad's accident and needing to turn my life upside down for a man that I normally keep a very large emotional buffer around. AND THEN I HAD A BABY. And postpartum hormones are HARD. And regardless of if I wanted to see my Dad or not, it felt nearly impossible because I was told (by doctors and nurses!) not to bring my tiny infant with no immune system into a possible-super-bug-infested hospital. And as a breastfed baby that was not yet taking a bottle, I couldn't leave her at home for 2 hours while I drove to the U of A, visited and drove back home. I did go see him once when Audrey was 2.5 weeks old. Gloria came with me and cuddled with her in our van while I ran in to see him. It was horrible. He had been extubated, but still had a trache in and couldn't speak. He appeared to recognize me, but as our visit went on it became apparent that he was very confused. He mouthed words as quickly as he would have spoken them, not slowing to allow me to try to make out what he was attempting to say, and frankly I didn't understand a "word" he said. Which caused him to become very frustrated. I apologized for not visiting for so long, to which he flipped his hand in the air and rolled his eyes. There was no warmth. No "I'm so glad to see you" expression on his face. Just confusion and frustration. It was so hard. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn't that, and so I stayed away for a while. I had a good excuse - I had an infant, and getting there was very difficult. Truly though, it was more difficult emotionally than logistically, and that is what kept me away.

The next time I saw him was a couple days after he had been transferred into the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital, near the end of November. I couldn't believe how far he had come! Oddly, he didn't recall being at the U of A at all. While I didn't visit again, all I heard from Gloria and Nicole were stories of his confusion each time they visited. Once he was able to speak he would describe elaborate stories - things he was sure he was experiencing while he was there. Usually it had to do with him leaving the hospital and going on adventures. He would describe them in detail, and often not believe it if he was told it never happened. We later found out that these dreams are a way of the brain healing, and once he was able to recognize them as dreams, the confusion disappeared.

He later described how he "woke up" at the Glenrose. As the days and weeks went by he just kept getting better. He was let out on weekend passes, and we were all amazed at how well he was doing. He was still unsteady on his feet, but could walk with a walker, or by holding on to the walls and furniture. He sometimes repeated stories and had a little trouble staying focused during conversations, but overall he was himself. He hated being at the Glenrose because he felt ready to go home, but it really was the best place for him. He had a team of people helping him get better. The physical therapy, occupational therapy and sessions with a psychologist were pivitol in his recovery.

The Glenrose is a great place, but they don't keep patients to the very end of their rehabilitation unless there is no other option. They prefer to send the patient home to live with family who can aid in the recovery process, and then, like in my Dad's case, eventually be at a point where they can live independently. So, in the middle of January after just under 2 months there, he was released to live with Nicole and her husband James. We were all very nervous about how this would go. My Dad is a stubborn, grumpy old man who doesn't like to feel weak, or to be told what he can and cannot do, and he had pretty much hit his limit while at the Glenrose. He was being released with restrictions on what he was allowed to do. Simple things like not showering when no one else was home (and always using the bath seat) and using his walker when outside of the home. After taking a nasty fall and cutting his head open on the sidewalk my sister also added that he was not to go for walks alone. And of course, a big one - no alcohol whatsoever. We're pretty sure he followed the last rule, but that was about it. He broke every other restriction time and time again, and anytime my sister would try to talk to him he was angry and nasty towards her. After a much longer period of time than I would have lasted, she finally suggested he find a place of his own. Seeing as he was already living independently in her home, he might as well live independently on his own.

And so, on April 1st he moved into a tiny furnished apartment in a sketchy part of Edmonton (all his CPP cheque could afford) and for the first time in over 6 months he had his independence back. None of us expected what happened next.

This post is already long enough though, so looks like you'll have to wait until next time! I promise you won't have to wait an entire month for it.

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