Thursday, May 16, 2013

Striking a Chord

Today was my husband's three month visit to the neurosurgeon.  Actually his first visit to him since have a stent placed in his carotid artery three months ago when he suffered a stroke on super bowl Sunday morning.  I have to say that I feel Dr. Reza Malik and his assistant, Adrianna, saved his life.  They were amazing.  I cannot even find the words to describe how I feel about them.  And today, they both said my husband will continue to improve and that he is doing super.  As happy as I am, I just want to cry and cry and cry.  It's a release on one hand.....on the other it's a cry of wanting my husband back to his full self.  I miss him.  But yet, this stroke, somehow, has brought us even closer together.  We both had worked so hard throughout our 33 years together that we never really got to spend time together.  But now, I'm getting to know him better.  I let him talk all he wants for as long as he wants.  I let him finish what he has to say.  I do not interrupt.  It's difficult to do.  There are times I want to hurry him along, or cut him off, but I know this would not benefit him at all.  So I sit and I listen.  I sit and I learn of what his life was like before me.  It's been very interesting.  And, I am trying to document his stories.  I think they are not only important to him but to our children.  In the future, I will be sharing some of those stories here.  But for now...I'll share what we did today.

After the doctor's visit, we drove out to Stanford University to the Cantor Art Center.  I thought it would be good for him to see different art work.  I bought him some paints, brushes, canvasses and more the other day thinking he may find some inspiration and motivation to bring out something that he has inside that has been deep within him.  He loved that we did this together.  I loved it very much.  We walked and we talked.  We laughed and we cried as we enjoyed our afternoon together.

I try to go on mini "field trips", as I call them, with him three times a week.  I think it gives us both something to look forward to and different stimulus for his brain.  Some of our field trips have included geocaching in different locations.  I have downloaded the application onto my iPhone and this seems to get us both going on the hunt to find the buried treasurer.  It's like walking into a mystery that you need to solve physically by finding the buried treasure.  These treasures, from what I understand, are buried all around the world.

A few field trips have taken us metal detecting.  Someone sent us a gift certificate for a sporting goods store and I thought metal detecting would get him more willing to walk...excercise.  And that it does!  He comes up with different places we should venture to next with our metal detector and he seems to get so focused in finding something that he forgets how far we have walked.  It's especially wonderful along the beaches.

We go on picnics to different parks.  He loves when I pack a picnic and we sit there watching people and creating stories about what their lives may be like.  The stories seem to always take on a humorous twist and when I hear his laughter I feel like that's the treasure of the day.

We've gone on trips to watch the "kite carts" racing.  That was new for us.  We tried to make a little movie of our own with background music playing as we watched.    He would chose the music and most often was the photographer, even with the blindness in each of his eyes, he would try and he was always successful.  He would get frustrated but would not give up.

There are just so many wonderful places we have been exploring and enjoying for once in our life.  I don't know if we will ever get to take "long" field trips but for now we are enjoy our mini ones.  There is just so much to see in our own vicinity.

As we drive, he puts music on the radio and before I know it, he's singing.  He forgets he has aphasia, he forgets he had a stroke, but he remembers the words and he sings everyone of them.  He used to play guitar, when we owned one.  But years ago, we gave it away.  So recently we visited a guitar shop.  I thought we could check out the guitars and just be in the environment for a bit.  The employees behind the counter asked if we needed any help.  We said we were just looking...that we didn't expect to see the price range on the guitars ($2000-6000)!  They were wayyyyyy out of our price range.

My husband started to talk....slowly, very slowly.  At this point, since his surgery, I have decided that if he chooses for someone to know he had a stroke, I will let HIM say it...not me.  As he was struggling with his words, he noticed the faces and comments by the employees and he felt uncomfortable.  I thought he was going to leave the store but instead let them know he had a stroke recently.  They were shocked and felt badly.  One even mentioned how he suffered a stroke over ten years ago and how he has recovered.  That set my husband at ease.  One of the employees excused himself and when he returned had a brown chocolate colored guitar in his hand.  He sat down and tuned it and then handed it to my husband.  He asked him to try and strum or play a chord.  My husband said he couldn't remember any.  The employee said to just try.  Just try.  So my husband stared at him for a moment and then placed his fingers on the neck of the guitar and formed a chord.  A smile came upon all our faces.  And then he strummed!  Yes, he strummed.  Yes, he formed a chord.  It was as if the clouds parted and the great big blue sky was very visible.  It was a moment to remember forever.

The employee said that this guitar isn't the best.  It will have to be tuned often but....he told my husband, "It's yours.  No charge!  It's yours."  My husband's eyes flooded with disbelief that someone was being this kind.  The employee's eyes were flooded too (mine too) was a very very special moment.  My husband gave the employee a long hug.  They struck a chord...with each other...that was heartfelt.  They both knew what the other was thinking that only two stroke victims could understand but yet it could be seen.

My husband strums that guitar daily.  He sings daily.  He tries daily.

You never know who or what will strike a chord to touch the strings in your heart.

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