Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Chapter 8

I went home in April as planned but still had to use that stupid shower chair. My family had to lift me onto it but at least I could shave my own legs. With my spasticity I hacked myself up quite a bit but what’s a little blood? This meant that I could do something without anyone’s help. Yes, it astounded me to see the magnificent progress I had made in a full four months!

The first thing on my agenda was to visit my dear friends from Chicago. Jane, Sally and Sharon went to Daytona Beach for Spring Break and I was planning on meeting them. The thought of therapy did not enter my mind for two days. I had a wonderful time with my friends but was thinking a lot about the future and it looked awfully bleak. The reason for these negative feelings was the fact that reality suddenly slapped me in the face. I couldn’t even do things as simple as tying my own shoelaces or cutting my food. The difference between my friends and me was painfully obvious. My thoughts for the long drive home were only on what I was going to do now. Getting out of the wheelchair seemed almost impossible. The thing that had to be done was to get well and I couldn’t do this by myself. Panic was starting to set in.

Sara’s main emphasis at this time was on my mind; I asked her about this and she said, “When I first met Susan I was excited about the obvious potential for recovery in this young woman. Although, there were significant deficits, she was still functioning at an extremely high level given her recent problems. At this time Susan was aware of her environment but her judgment of things she heard and saw was very impaired. She had significant problems with her memory for both things she saw and heard and for events that occurred in the not so distant past (yesterday, two weeks ago, three hours ago, fifteen minutes ago). Susan's vocabulary was also something that we worked on. We spent a great deal of time identifying appropriate emotions because at that time Susan was very unstable and spent much time laughing inappropriately. She had difficulty identifying and relating to her own emotional responses. Susan was quite dysarthric and unintelligible when I first met her. Her speech was very slurry and the rate was slow. She could only speak about six syllables and then had to stop and re-coordinate her breathing for speech. Susan’s face and oral structures were quite asymmetrical; pulling to one side of her. Further her voice lacked any inflection, and her voice range was two notes in relation to the norm, which is sixteen. Susan was also having a lot of trouble managing liquids. As her gag reflex was functioning hypotonically or slowly and delayed with insufficient movement.”

I knew I was sick but did not realize the full extend of my illness because I was still living in a dream world. Eric told me that getting well would seem like putting quarters into a barrel. He said that if I watched the quarters being dropped in one at a time it would seem like it was taking forever. However, if you don’t pay any attention to the barrel, one day you’ll discover that it’s full. I just laughed and thought the barrel would be overflowing in just two months time; I never dreamed it would take years.

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