Last week Eric asked me “What are you doing during the days?” I’ve never been this stressed out in my life, so when he asked me this I almost smacked him with the frying pan. Who needs to work out at the gym when you have a disabled husband living with you in a house with a basement and a second floor? It feels like I’m running around all day long and probably loosing tons of calories, and still not getting everything done. Eric forgot that I don’t work at NEMO anymore and didn’t realize that I’m with him 24/7 as his Caregiver. Today he said, “It can’t be easy taking care of me so thank you for all your help”. That’s some progress I would say, and I answered him the honest truth; “You’re a pain in the butt and it’s not easy at all, but that’s ok, and thank you for acknowledging it.”
I’ve noticed progress is many areas since my last blog post. Two months ago Eric walked 40 steps at the dog park from the car to the park bench, and then 40 steps back to the car. Last week, he took a 20 minutes walk in our neighborhood with his trekking poles as help to keep his balance. Progress! His walker has retired to the garage and I’m looking forward to the day I can sell it; he’s currently using his trekking poles for walking outdoors and actually no support indoors besides walls and furniture. He’s also walking stairs without support. His balance and his strengths are coming back slowly but steady. He’s had a few falls but nothing major. Progress! Eric’s still really confused, and his short-term memory is still extremely poor and we don’t know how much of this he will recover but some days he remembers more then others. Eric is writing a diary almost daily to help remind him of the day’s activities. Eric is so fortunate to still remember how to use his computer and his iPhone. Since his friends has a hard time understanding him, the iPone is his gate to the world and it helps him stay in touch with friends, and he’s on that thing constantly. Progress! Eric’s speech still needs tons of work, but you know what; we’ve hade progress in this area too. During our first meeting with his new SLP we discovered that if Eric concentrates on HOW TO SAY IT, it makes it easier for us to understand him. You and I are only concerned about WHAT we say, and even then, we get it wrong occasionally. Eric needs to add on top of that, how to say it, which I have no doubt must be exhausting. But it’s working and I’ve seen progress even in this. One day Eric will be walking and talking like the rest of us, and it’s going to be difficult to see his main injury. Brain injury is called “The silent epidemic” because you can’t look at a person and tell he’s sustained a brain injury; but it’s there and will be there for the rest of his life. And it’s going to complicate our lives forever.
My advice to people is; if you see a man walking unstable, with help of trekking poles; don’t ask if he’s going skiing. Obviously, a young man would rather BE skiing then wobble in to the therapy room at the hospital. I can’t blame Eric for screaming back at that old lady, or the nice man in the elevator; I would too. The only difference is that Eric, due to the injury, can’t tell the difference from right and wrong so he’s really showing his feelings! Eric’s nickname is still Mr. Inappropriate!