Time For Change

November 6, 2008

As President-elect Obama says, “It’s time for change.” The team at McGuire has begun planning for Mariah’s discharge, perhaps as soon as early December. Nothing’s definite yet, but among the possibilities are a move back to the DC area, and maybe a switch from inpatient to outpatient rehab. We hope a step toward returning to work may be possible, too. But who knows?

Mariah is excited about the prospect of returning to her beloved Chai. She longs to see her friends, family, and colleagues again as a routine part of her day. And she’s understandably frightened about what life away from the McGuire cocoon may be like. She’s come so far, and her long-term prospects are very good, but the next steps are unclear, and she’s uncertain about her readiness to take them. Reemergence is extremely painful.

Nuking a Snack (McGuire VAMC, 11/5/08)

Nuking a Snack (McGuire VAMC, 11/5/08)

In the meantime, Mariah continues to improve on so many fronts. She’s able to hold a fork or spoon more or less correctly and get food from a plate to her mouth. She can open toothpaste, squeeze some onto a toothbrush, brush her teeth and rinse her mouth. She can dress and undress herself, except for shoes, socks, and clasps. She can walk on a treadmill for over two minutes, supporting her own weight. She can transfer herself between her wheelchair and the bed. She’s able to print letters on paper, and she can operate a computer keyboard with one finger. She propelled herself to the canteen downstairs, picked out a container of mac and cheese, and took it back upstairs to the kitchen where she microwaved it and stirred the “cheese” into the noodles. (She wouldn’t agree to eat it, however. Smart girl.)

She does all of this, and much more. But none of it consistently “well”, much less perfectly, which seems to still be her standard for acceptability. As a result, Mariah has to endure a lot of frustration and disappointment.

Since her return from Walter Reed several weeks ago, she’s been opening up a bit emotionally. She’s been able to talk about her situation, to express her feelings, and to cry more easily which I believe has contributed to a more positive outlook on her part. This week, however, as she girds herself for the impending transition she’s withdrawing into her stoic and somewhat stubborn persona. I pray this won’t send her back into the dark place from which she so recently emerged. Unfortunately, her psychologist is also being promoted out of the ward, so Mariah’s experiencing some pretty acute anxiety around all the flux. (This is NOT a complaint about the system; it’s as good here as it gets. It’s just unfortunate timing.)

Believing the best antidote for cares and worry is a good musical, we’re going to the historic Byrd Theater tonight to watch the film version of “Mama, Mia!” The cost? $1.99 each, plus popcorn. No wonder she doesn’t want to leave Richmond. 🙂

– Mark


3 Responses to “Time For Change”

  1. Leah said

    Sounds like a lot indeed, thanks for keeping up with the blog. If you need anything please let me know. I have a little down time coming next year (for what little that is worth).


  2. Cousin Wayne said

    Hi Friend,

    Sounds like a good plan. Mariah, you certainly have the courage and intelligence to do it.

    Cousin Wayne

  3. Elizabeth said

    I can’t believe how far you have come Mariah!! I know that every step is still hard, but your progress is amazing. Your upcoming transition will be scary, as the unknown always is, but I know you will face it with courage and determination. I hope I can figure out a way to see you again soon.
    Much love,

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