First day at RIO! RIO has been our goal for 144 days; everything the rehab staff, nurses, doctors, hospital staff, and myself have done has been based on the goal of getting Eric to RIO. This goal is now accomplished. RIO’s overall mission is assisting the patient’s return to living in the community, either independently or with any necessary assistance. Eric needs more rehab and nursing care after RIO but it’s a good step in the right direction, that’s for sure.
My personal goal, which I need to work on right away, is to take a step back and let the experts get to know Eric so they better can help him recover. I’m way too over-protective of him, I answered for Eric today because it’s hard to understand him; I can’t do that, and I know better. New hospital staff also means that everyone needs to get to know each other. Eric is back in the wheelchair, he’s not allowed to go to the restroom without supervision, he’s not allowed to walk, or to eat alone. All these things were crossed off as accomplished at Menlo Park so it was hard for me to accept this today. I just wanted to scream; “Eric knows how to do these things which is why we’re here, give him a break”. But I know I can’t do that, they need to see for themselves.
Today was like any first day at a new place; PT, OT and SLP came to evaluate Eric. I put up the pictures on the walls and got things organized, etc. The important differences from RIO compared to the other places we’ve been to, is that Eric’s team is experts in brain injury. We met with Eric’s Physician who evaluated Eric by asking questions, and exanimate him. It’s been different before because Eric’s condition was worse and he was less responsive and not so aware of what’s going on. For the first time Eric participated, asked questions and had an understanding of what was going on. He did however questioning some of the things the doctor asked him to do, because Eric thinks he’s smarter then he really is. Also for the first time I noticed how poor Eric’s vision is on the left side, how slow his reflexes are and how slow overall he is. Eric’s brain damage is on the right side, this side of the brain controls the left side of the body and is usually responsible for creative thinking and music perception. Damage on the right side also leads to decreased awareness of deficits, loss of “the big picture” type of thinking, decreased control over left-sided body movement, to name of a few topics. We still don’t know what damages Eric has to his brain but today was a first step to find out. Eric noticed how poor his vision was on the left so he asked the doctor what the reason was, and we got a very complicated answer. I looked at Eric and told him the simple reason; “Eric you have a sever brain injury, which is why you have left side vision problems.” He cried out NOOOO, and with tears in his eyes he looked so scared and small in his wheelchair, which made me cry too. He said, “We don’t deserve this, you (pointing at me) don’t deserve this.” I thought to myself; “No one deserves this”. He asked what he needed to do, and I answered him that he needed to work hard, and listed to the people around him because they are here to help. I’m not sure if I said that to make him feel better, of if I said it to myself. Part of me is so scared, and the other part says that everything is going to be ok. I can’t get hanged-up on today’s Eric because he will change tomorrow, more by next week and even more by the time RIO is done. I’ve been told RIO can work miracles; which is why I’ve been pushing for this day for so long. We are both ready for a miracle so please, please… bring it on.