Friday, April 2, 2010

The Last LR Update (at least for now) 4-2-10

WELL, I’ve been trying to get this written all week, but with my long, busy days of work and short evenings of laziness combined, I just haven’t gotten it done. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it!

But I did (finally) live up to my earlier promise of returning to visit LR before he went home, and it was a great visit. He’s doing so much better, and last I heard they were supposed to turn him loose yesterday (Thursday). In fact, I just texted Jill for an update and she confirmed that yes, he did go home. I’m sure he’s thrilled to be home.

Last weekend I decided to drive down to Arizona, sort of spur-of-the-moment. I was laying on the couch on Thursday night, texting with Jill, when the decision to go suddenly hit me (possibly, maybe, SLIGHTLY because she was nagging and pestering me about it). It’s probably a good thing that the decision hit me right then because not much later, Jimmy found me asleep on the couch with my cell phone still clutched in my hand. Old age is creeping up on me.

So anyway, Friday morning I got my stuff together and set off for Arizona. I thought about surprising him, but that might be hard to do, since I didn’t know where he was (I knew he had been moved from the hospital to a rehab center), so I texted him that I was coming to see him. He seemed happy and sent me the address.

I drove directly to the rehab place, using my trusty navigator. I got there about 5:30, parked near the front door, and tried to walk in. That’s when I saw the sign on the door that said that from 5:00 PM to 7:00 AM, you have to use the north entrance. There were no arrows or anything indicating which way that might be. Being directionally challenged, I had no idea where north would be, so I turned right and hiked to the end of the building. There was a door, so I went on in. I found myself in a large commercial kitchen. I decided that maybe that wasn’t the north entrance, so I tiptoed back out and hiked the length of the building to the other end. The door down there was locked. I headed back to the front door, starting to feel annoyed. Why couldn’t they give just a tiny hint on where to FIND the north entrance? Then someone came out the front door, so I asked. The north entrance was around back. I got back in my car and found that all the signs and arrows on the pavement were one way around the building, and I would have to pull back onto a busy street and make a left in order to get back into the parking lot and go the correct way to get to the back of the building. By then I was totally annoyed and, in a burst of rebellion, I drove AGAINST THE ARROWS and went around back. A few employees were back there smoking, and they looked a little surprised to see someone careening around the building, going the wrong way, but by then I was just DARING someone to say something to me. They didn’t.

I went inside and started the fun process of actually FINDING my brother. Of course there was no one to ask, and the people I did ask couldn’t help me. There were names outside all of the rooms, so I started walking up and down the halls, looking for his name. I soon realized that the rehab center was more accurately described as what I would call a rest home. Everybody else in there was elderly, I mean ELDERly, and many looked pretty incapacitated, at least to my untrained eye. LR had to be the baby of the place, hands down! Some of the rooms looked like permanent residences, made up to look like a bedroom at home. One guy had team jerseys from various sports teams hanging from the curtains and other sports memorabilia everywhere. A lot of people had a pile of stuffed animals. I couldn’t help but think that we start life collecting stuffed animals and, by all appearances, we go out the same way. I saw a number of elderly women sitting motionless in the halls in wheelchairs with a couple of stuffed dogs or cats on their laps, and I thought how much nicer it would be if they could be comforted by a real dog or cat.

But I digress. As I mentioned before, I had already been annoyed by my adventures in the parking lot, just looking for an entrance, and now the fun continued as I searched for LR’s room. On and on I walked, examining every name plate, not finding him. I didn’t want to actually look into the rooms to find him. It seemed a total invasion of privacy and when I did glance inside, it was often a sad sight.

Finally, after a long march up and down the halls (and passing twice the same guy in a wheelchair, slumped to the side with his shirt pulled up, exposing a birthmark next to his belly button) I asked for more help. After the employee said they couldn’t help, I asked for directions on who COULD help and I moved on to someone else who couldn’t help, but eventually I did find someone to help. It turned out that they had just moved LR to another room and hadn’t gotten around to putting his name plate on the door yet. JUST MY LUCK! Of course I had passed his room several times.

All of my aggravation melted away, though, when I saw my brother. He was sitting in his wheel chair, and his bed was neatly made next to him. I commented that it didn’t look like he’d been in the bed for a while, and he said he tried only to use it at night when it was bedtime. Sitting in a wheelchair was an improvement from always lying in bed, which is what he had done for weeks. When I hugged him, I could tell it was an effort to lift his arms and hug me back. He definitely was still very weak, but working at getting his strength back. A couple of times a day he took a turn around the hall using a walker, and I was impressed about how determined he plugged along. You almost had to jog to keep up with him! It reminded me of when I visited Dad in the hospital after he had his cancer surgery. When we were doing laps in the hall with him, he actually tried to break into a run. (He definitely left Mom in the dust.) Like father, like son!

LR is still struggling to eat. The damage done to his throat is still healing, and he can only eat a small amount at a time, but he’s working at it. He has lost something like 40 pounds since he got sick. His legs and arms, as I said, are still very weak, but he is working to get them back.
I spent a lot of the day on Saturday with him, and that evening Rhonda babysat Jill and Jared’s kids so they could go out, and I stayed with LR. We watched a movie and snacked. (I snacked, he nibbled, but he made sure that the nurse knew he was eating. Had to write it down and get credit for every morsel!)

It was a wonderful visit, seeing LR, and being with Jill and her family was a nice bonus, as always. It gave my heart the peace it needed, to see him awake and getting better.

As I was leaving to drive home on Sunday around noon, Kadence decided she was going to go home with me. She climbed into the back seat of my car and wouldn’t budge. I tried to talk her out of the idea. I thought I had her convinced when she got out of the car and went back in the house. A few minutes later, though, she returned, carrying her Phineas, Ferb, and Perry stuffed dolls (which incidentally I bought her for Christmas). Apparently my argument “no toys at grandma’s house” argument sunk in. She sat in that seat for a long time while Jared tried to help me by changing a couple of fuses in my car under the dash. I told Kadence that Jacob would miss her, her mom and would miss her, she didn’t have any clothes, she would miss her mom and dad and Jacob, and there was no convincing her. Finally she had to be pulled from the car. We thought about calling her bluff and driving down the street with her in there, thinking that she would change her mind, but we were afraid she would call OUR bluff, which is what probably would have happened!

Thanks again to everyone, family and friends, for all of your love and prayers.

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