Our Day Together

Your grandmother recently celebrated her 90th birthday. I can’t even emphasize that enough. Ninety. Ninety. WOW….one more, 90!

Naturally this called for a HUGE celebration in Charlottesville – where everyone gathered to honor your grandmother and this prestigious celebration of ninety years. This meant that you would be spending the day alone – until I got a call from Scotty. He informed me that if I wanted some alone time, Saturday would be the day. Of course, I was all over that.

I packed up the car, left bright and early and got to you around 10a. You were sound asleep…so I let you rest (I know after 13 years of friendship, not to wake you up).

At about a quarter till noon, they brought you lunch and an occupational therapist had come in to help you eat (I let him wake you up)! You were excited to see me since you had no idea I was going to be there…it was good to see you smile.

The occupational therapist must have annoyed the beejezzus out of you. It took him forever with the food, cutting it, then forgetting the towel to put over your shirt, then messing up your sandwich, then blah blah blah blah….after it was said and done he maybe got you three bites of food before “his time was up”…so I stepped in.

You had a turkey sandwich with lettuce and tomato…I took off the tomato, because I know you don’t like them. You had some sweet tea that you said was okay…and some chicken noodle soup that was cold.

The nurse came in several times to check on us and informed us both that you had to eat 75% of your tray or you’d have to get a tube feeding…well, challenge accepted.

You ate 90% of your tray only leaving a bit of cold soup (cause ew) and the tomato from your sandwich. You nailed it and the nurse came in to tell us no tube feeding would be necessary.

Then an aide came in (your days sure are busy) and helped you from the bed to the chair so you could get ready for therapy. What a fiasco – I know you hate all of this. Every day I wish for your independence, your happiness, and mostly that you get time with your little family.

Once you were in the chair, your speech therapist came to see you – she whisked you away to group therapy (where I was not allowed to join) so I ran down to the cafeteria and grabbed some food. When I came back you were still gone so I read a little bit of my book and waited for you to return.

When you got back your therapist said you did wonderfully and you were one of the only patients in group to remember the day of the week and the date. She also said you talked nonstop. So proud! We had a couple sips of water and you had some medicine and we went out to the gardens. However, before we got there you played an evil trick on me.
Here’s how it went….

R: “Kim, do you want to go outside and sit for a bit in the gardens, it seems nice out?”
K: “Yes! That sounds fun.”
R: “Do I need to sign you out or anything or do we just go?”
K: “We just go”
R: “Are you sure?”
K: “Yea, we do it all the time”
R: “Do you know where to go, because I don’t?”
K: “Yes”
R: “Okay, let’s go!”

I start pushing you through the hall and you tel me to go to the elevator.

As I’m approaching the elevator I get the following comment.
Nurse: “Excuse me, where are you taking Mrs. Hulick?”
R: “To the garden, Kim informed me that she knew where to go…”
Nurse: “Yes, but you must sign her out first.”
R: “I’m so sorry she told me I didn’t have to.”

I look down at you and you are just laughing as hard as you can.

Touche’ Kim…nicely done.

I was convinced you were trying to get me to sneak you out of rehab and take you home…when we got downstairs you told me to go to the front door towards the parking lot when I got to it you said “Just kidding, turn right.”

Such a prankster.

We finally got, safely, outside to the gardens and sat under some beautiful magnolia trees, we had a nice time talking and stayed out there until your Physical Therapist came to get your for your next session (they really do make you work there!).

I got to participate this time and we worked on trunk exercises – you passed me little sandbags and told me the color and letter on each one. Then you threw them into a bucket (just like Michael Jordan). Your therapist was so impressed with the progress you had made! I was so happy I got to help in your therapy and see you in action.

After your therapy was over we spent a little more time in your room. I made sure you were settled into your bed, because you told me you were tired and made sure that you were comfy and had what you needed. We called Scotty and spoke to the family at the party which seemed to make you smile! You also gave me your positive of the day which was Grandma turning 90!

I had such a wonderful day with you and left smiling ear to ear. I hope we get another day like that soon.

We even took our monthly selfie!

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So Proud of You

Your husband sent me this video earlier this month. I couldn’t be more proud. This came after I had a lovely one on one visit with you. I was so happy to just spend some time with you. Here your beautiful voice and have a conversation with you like old times. It’s been entirely too long, too much time has gone by without your giggles and wisdom.

When I saw this video, I cried. Here you are going through the most overwhelming, difficult, struggle of your life. Smiling. Grinning ear to ear because you are walking. Your progress has been insurmountable and your determination even more so.

I just wanted to post this so I could keep it forever, so it would be here with your story so you could remember your triumph and on days that you aren’t feeling so great…you get a little boost of “kick-ass” to tackle the next mountain.

You are so strong, you are so determined, and that alone will beat this.

I love you Kimmy.

Always Supporting You

Just wanted to share a few examples of how you are always on my mind and always with me. I miss you dearly, and I know that with every breath you take you are getting closer to the old you. In the meantime during your fight we are supporting you, having your back every single day! 

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Karma and I supporting you from the front yard!

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Support from the side door!

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Constant support wherever I go, that bracelet hasn’t left my wrist since you gave it to me!

A Fun Day With AJack

So I finally decided on a nickname for Annmarie – AJack for Annmarie Jacqueline — You probably aren’t a fan, but I love it so it sticks. I’ll be the crazy aunt that gives her the crazy weird nickname. I got to spend some quality time with you and her on one of our last visits – here’s a sneak peek of all that fun! She looks really great in your glasses! 

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Unlike Humpty Dumpty, You Got Put Back Together Again

July 20, was a monumental day for you. You finally had your crainectomy reversed and your skull piece was put back on.  In order to do this you went to your fourth location. Not Mary Washington, not NRH, and not VA Medical Center….instead you were at Georgetown University Hospital. 

I came up to visit and sit with Scotty since we weren’t sure about the outcome or the timeframe since doctors tend to be extremely vague.  The doctors did mention that the outcome could be one of three: 1) You have more cognitive improvement after surgery, 2) You have less cognitive improvement after surgery, or 3) You stay at the same cognitive level you were before you had the surgery while you were at NRH. — obviously. 

We were waiting on pins and needles (trying to find snacks, that ended up being an Adam and Rita adventure, where I’m pretty sure we walked through a locker room, but I’ll save that for another blog post). Finally, we got impatient and Scotty decided to call and make sure that you were not still in surgery.  You had been moved back up to the ICU and the surgery had gone fine – the doctors said you did great. 

Scotty and I came to see you and boy was it tough, you looked great, considering what you had already gone through and what type of surgery you just had.  However, you were in pain. Apparently in recovery the staff did not give you any additional medication because you seemed comfortable, when the pain hit you, it hit you and it was hard to get control of it again.  You were wincing and whining in pain. No best friend wants to see that.  They didn’t let us spend much time with you since they were trying to get you comfortable so we hung out in the waiting room a bit and then I headed home.  Thinking of you and your struggle the entire time. 

I decided that one visit that week wasn’t enough, especially since it wasn’t a very good one – so I decided that I’d come back on the 21st and this time I’d bring Kristina.  Hopefully you’d be feeling a lot better – we heard that it was a possibility that AJack would be having her surgery as well, so we didn’t want you to be alone. We got there just as Amy was leaving, so it was just the three of us.  You were resting most of the day, which was wonderful to see, and you seemed pretty comfortable. Kristina and I just sat and watched you, making sure you had what you needed.  Your nursing staff was amazing! By far the best staff I think we’ve seen with you yet.  I was really liking Georgetown. 

It was so nice to see your head, and your whole head, in the proper shape! It was a shame that your head had to be shaved again but at least this was the last time and it was all shaved to the same length….so that your hair can grow back beautifully as you recover. 

You’ve made tremendous strides and I’m so proud of you. I know the best is yet to come! Just keep fighting! 

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AJack, You, and I just before you were moved to do your reverse-hemi – what a precious little love.

120, Proving Them Wrong

It’s been 120 days…since this nightmare started…each and everyone has been like nails on chalkboard, like the worst freddie movie, like an impossible to escape nightmare on Elm Street.

But everyday you make strides….sometimes you get set back a bit, but most days it’s forward….and I’m thankful that there are more forward moments than backwards moments.

Today, day 120 was a big day…today you had your swallowing test.  And for the first time in 120 days, exactly four months since your accident, you swallowed applesauce.  A food, a real, delicious, probably amazing food! And when asked you said you liked it and you wanted more.

This is a huge day Kimmy – I texted Scotty and he called to tell me because he was on his way to you, going up for his regular Wednesday visit. He sounded relieved.  He’s so tired and he’s doing so well, being by your side and being the greatest father to that little girl.

Big steps forward today love. When I finally make it up there to see you, I’m bringing you some chocolate pudding and maybe even ice cream – if they’ll let me! 🙂

I can’t wait to see you.

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National Best Friend Day

This week the world celebrated, National Best Friend Day!

Welp, I did too, except not the way I would have wanted too.  This day normally would have consisted of a lengthy phone call where we exchanged laughter, vented, talked about plans and if we really had our shit together would maybe have included a lunch somewhere in the middle between your house and mine.

Instead, I spent it thinking about you – and how much I miss you, and how differently the day should be.  Amanda and I spoke, we played phone tag all day but finally caught up! We chatted a bit, she asked about you and I told her the recent news. You are making such great progress, but your struggle is still very real, and your destination, although closer, is still very far away.

There is one thing about how I celebrated National Best Friend Day that isn’t different – and that was that I celebrated you and Amanda. My girls…the part of me that’s external to my being, but still very much me!

10268637_10102027243893808_1855669701830228641_nI miss you terribly and even though we couldn’t talk or share the day together, you were still in my heart, and next year on National Best Friend’s Day…you, me, Amanda, and Annmarie will spend it together….as we should, smiling, laughing, eating, and carrying on the way we always do.  It’ll happen because I believe in your strength!
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Just keep on fighting, keep proving them wrong, keep dropping their jaw. Every. Single. Day. You will shine, again.

I love you!