Trainer D often demands, Did you have a good breakfast? and What did you eat? One day I replied sweetly, A cuppy-cake [smile/lopsided grin], and then I was gonna have some oatmeal but I skipped to the brown sugar – straight up out’the box.
🙂 FYI this is how I roll 80% unfiltered. I assure you I was a real treat to work with right when I woke up and was 99.9% unfiltered.
Around that time at RIO (3rd Hospital), a friend visited and slid a 3-pack of my then-favorite gum on my nightstand. He showed me the ropes of A/V duty at church and one Sunday we had to be there early to set up. Neither of us had eaten breakfast so I gave him some gum (Trident Stripes – strawberry/orange). That’s right, T, I said, Breakfast of champions!!
I didn’t know if he was real at that point in my hospitalization but I recognized my favorite gum and I appreciated that he remembered what I liked.
A favorite part of my Oregon trip was communicating to people that I remembered details of my Old Life that they had had a part in, and to express my appreciation. The first person I saw at RIO (3rd Hospital) was not one of my therapists – it was the Resident Hair Braider – the OT routinely enlisted to braid patients’ hair when occasion required. On the morning I flew home M (OT3) summoned her to French braid my hair for my homeward bound trip. When she entered my room I greeted her – Hi, A.
You know my name! She was impressed bc I’d only seen her a couple times before. When I saw her in April it was my turn to be impressed. I saw the back of her head as she disappeared into a stairwell but I called her name in a questioning tone. She took one look at me and instantly remembered. This was notable since I had not been her patient and I looked very different when I stayed there. Let’s just say that the transition from bedridden to not bedridden was a rough one on a whole lot of levels.
After three years I was able to tell her that her braid had lasted all day and night – after the trip my family had somehow managed to get me inside the house and into my downstairs bed (I was still wearing my airplane clothes and hair, but was so wiped out I didn’t care). One of the ways I steeled myself for the trip was by telling myself I needed to go to my hospitals in order to thank people. A lot of thank-you’s remained unspoken – e.g. thank you for saving my life, for teaching me to sit up, for being kind to me when I was afraid, for believing I’d wake up even though it didn’t look too good at the moment. But the thank you’s I did say, like for that fantastic French braid, and to my friends from work and church, were heartfelt and I hope my peeps were glad that I remembered their contributions to my Recovery.
These days I’ve started hanging out with people who belong on the front of a Wheaties box. Well, maybe not CMD. She’d be on a box of chi-strengthening herbs. But it’s not their Wheaties-candidacy I value the most in them. True, the nature of my injury (its severity and the opportunity to recover) requires a sky-high skill-level (or it could just be that I’m picky, but whatevs), but I’ve found (note: in my individual experience) that personality fit often trumps specificity of training.
While I recognize their professional expertise it’s the small things outside of their job description that offer me the healing touch of human kindness. Although I’ve worked with absolutely fantastic neuro specialists in the past the common denominator among the people I’ve worked with successfully is two-fold: 1) They know how to laugh, 2) They are nice.
I’ve learned that I have a greater chance of getting what I want if I present my credentials in the way I wish them to be interpreted. Hence the posturing of RecoveryLand. I’ve been told that one of the biggest differences in my post AVM personality is that I used to be all about the presentation. (Apparently I was able to exert an incredible amount of self-control then.) My instinct is to still try to present myself as strong, capable, ready for action, etc. since this kind of attitude invites a higher level of rigor, but sometimes my body parts don’t cooperate – I have a motor skill malfunction or my tremor chooses an inopportune time to distinguish itself. I know from experience that an Occupational Therapist would sit there until you complete the task. But these people, who do not hail from the (acute) Rehab world, see my weakness and intervene.
They don’t make a big deal of it – they don’t comment at all. And I’m so busy trying to cultivate a certain image (Let’s get to work, people – there’s no time to lose.) I don’t have time to be self-conscious when a deficit highlights itself. But in the same way that I appreciate when other people remember my preferences I will always remember these small acts of kindness and think of them as proof of your skillfulness as a professional and as a person.