Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Choices by Rosemary

As soon as I had finished talking with John, I went to a pay phone and called my dad. I begged him to come down. He said he would leave in a couple of days. This infuriated me. I told him, "John needs you NOW! NOW!" I have never felt so disappointed in someone in my entire life. And it was my own father I was so disappointed in. You suck it up and you do what you have to do, I thought. How could he not want to be here. I've grown a lot since then. I try not to judge people on how they react when a disaster hits. Me, I face it, full force. Do what I have to do. I know now that he couldn't. This was his son who would never walk again. His favorite child. It just about killed him.

I remember how nice everyone was in Texas. People John had worked a short time with were coming to the hospital and visiting once he got out of ICU. They would bring food and sit and talk to us like we were all family. That's the difference between the South and the North. You would never get that type of friendship from a total stranger. Never sit in a hospital room with a total stranger and feel like you have known them all your life. It made things a little easier having those fine folks visiting--not only John but the rest of the family. Yes, us too.

I'm not quite sure when my brother Jim and my father finally arrived. It wasn't that long after we arrived. Probably a week at most. I know it was so good for John to see my dad. I had asked John what he wanted, what he needed. He loves music and he said a radio or cd player. I told my dad to get one on his way down. I then went shopping and bought as many music cds as I could afford. I remember Stevie Ray Vaughn was one John had asked for. He also read a lot. And, so we got him some books on tape. That didn't last long though. His usual scarry books actually scared him. I understood completely. Having to rely on someone helping you, you know, just in case something happened must be hell.

As the days passed, it seemed that his paralysis was there to stay; and it was clear that we needed to work with a social worker to learn what we were to do next. And that is when we were introduced to Vernice (pronounced Ver-Nees. (I'll never forget her name because my dad's name is Vernice--pronounced Ver-Nis. Funny.)

Vernice was the sweetest lady. She would hug us whenever we saw her. She was absolutely wonderful. We were given some choices of rehab centers; and of course, we wanted one a little closer to home. We all wanted to be as close to him as possible as he went through a very hard rehab stay. Somehow, it was decided that John would go to rehab in Philadelphia, PA. McGee Rehab Center. It was only about three hours from DC. Very drivable. What a learning curve was ahead for us all.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Brighter Side of Adversity by John

Up till now, I've been focusing on all the negatives, and suffice it to say after having lost the use of my body there wasn't much positive going for me at the time, but there was one big exception: the support of my family.

I cannot stress enough how much strength and solace I gained from them. At my entire stay at Baylor Memorial, which was about a month, between my mother and father and brother and sister, I was never without a family member at my side. And what a difference it made.

Looking back on it, I don't know I would have survived the ordeal without them. I would have, of course, but it would have added another dimension of hell to my already bleak mental state.

The presence of my family being there provided for me a backdrop of warmhearted familiarity; I was surrounded by the people that meant the most to me, and just having them there gave me a sense of ease that I would not have had otherwise.

In addition, having someone there around the clock really made a difference. Whether it was my dad or mom or my brother or sister, it was someone I could talk to to take my mind off the reality of the situation, someone I knew closely; someone I had spent my life with thus giving us a lifetime of experiences with which to talk about. Plus, it can never be underestimated the value of having someone there to scratch one's nose when one cannot do it for oneself.

There were many other amenities that my family members provided for me that one takes for granted when one has the use of one's hands besides scratching itches, but that one ranks right near the top. One particular task that was provided was changing tapes in my Walkman, which I listened to a lot.

Having moved to Dallas without my Walkman and tapes, in lieu of bringing them down from Virginia, my sister went shopping for a new Walkman along with a list of tapes that I'd given her. She also bought me a set of books on tape, a collection of short stories by Stephen King who was one of my favorite authors.

It was that night or the next that I had my dad put in the first tape. For the first 15 minutes or so things were fine, but at some point the story I started getting really scared, and I had to ask my dad to stop the tape. I found it a bit embarrassing having never been scared like that from a novel with the exception of when years before I began reading Alien laying on the living room couch, after having seen the movie five times I might add. It was in the wee hours of the morning that I was nearing the end of the book, and as I lay facing the front door I was certain that the creature was on the other side ready to burst in and attack me. It seems funny now, but at the time I was very much scared. But getting back to the Stephen King tapes, I stuck to music tapes from then on out

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