Sunday, December 19, 2010

In Search of the New Normal

Before my first surgery, I went to see a counselor (who  I referred to as "my other head doctor,")  to help me deal with all the challenges ahead of me. Hewould talk about  the frustration of waiting for the "new normal".
In retrospect, those were relatively simple, innocent times, when the fear of death and/or a stroke were abstract.

Well, on Saturday, I got a day pass from the rehab and had a chance to take the new normal out for a spin.
That meant the opportunity to try out the wheel chair ramp we had built in our garage (running into our family room), as well as the grab bars in the downstairs bathroom, and the hospital bed now in the office.

I'll be living on the ground floor when I first get home()officiall(scheduled for this Tuesday)but hope to be able to manage the stairs wiyhin the next month(with the the help of at-home and out patient therapy.

A lot of figuring out the new normal has to do with reconciling old roles and routines with new limitations. The Father in me wants to be able to play with my sons, help get them  ready in the morning, and put them to bed at night -- to be a parent again. I've been away for a long time and can't help feeling like I need to make up for lost time.Wyatt very sweetly said to me,"I wish this hadn't happened to you." Ditto. And I wish this hadn't happe3ned to him.

Late last week  I practiced getting up off the floor. In principle it's in. case I fall,but I'm thinking about it more in terms of being able to get on the floor and play.

I want to be able to do that as Husband too. I'd never have made it through all  this without Jamie by my side, and I want my return home to be more help than burden. But Jamie and I both have another struggle before us - hers is to help me without overdoing for me; mine is to ask for help when I truly need it but not to let her coddle me. I also need to challenge myself safely and without scaring her half to death, like on Saturday when she turned around to see me standing at the pantry door, looking for chocolate chips (for the cookies the boys and I were making). I should get some level of permission to do things like that at the rehab tomorrow, but we're going to need to make our own rules at home.

Needless to say, it was a successful visit - bet tween the aforementioned cookies, reading a dinosaur book, building Santa's village out of blocks, and decorating the Christmas tree.It was a good test of what I can accomplish sitting down, and further encouragement to get back on my feet.

Then Jamie's sister came over to watch the kids (Thanks, Jen!), and Jamie and I went out to dinner. That was another first - the  first time I'd gone out in public in my wheel chair. It was fine, butI know I'm going to be self-conscious about it whenever we do it. I kept thinking people were saluting me. What with my newly shaved head and sutured scalp, I do look like I've been in battle. But I don't deserve that level of tribute or attention.


  1. You (and Jamie) have the admiration and respect of all who have been witness to the amazing strength and will you haves showed us all.

    Rachel C.

  2. Standing at the pantry looking for cookies sounds like it might be good exercise!

    Ahh! What do I know about it? Sounds like a good time was had by all. You know Jamie isn't having fun unless she has something to fret about! ;)

    Glad you'll be home soon.


  3. Like hell you haven't been in a battle! That brain invader forced a peaceful man to take on the fight of his life. That counts, Ken!

    I like that the new normal includes excursions to the pantry for chocolate chips and the chance to make cookies with your kids. That sounds like a great kind of normal to me. And, yeah, you'll have plenty of motivation to keep doing the hard work of out-patient PT to help you get back on your feet. :)

    What kind of pre-Christmas help do you need? That question is directed at both of you . . . I LOVE to wrap packages, bake cookies, do targeted xmas shopping . . . what do you need?

    --Amy & Ed

  4. Dear Ken,
    Sorry we missed trimming the tree with you on Saturday. We would have loved to have been there. I know this is something that you have probably thought about in detail, but I am wondering if you have considered writing a book about your experiences and insights during your inspiring recovery. I can envision that with your wonderful writing ability you could write an best seller. I mean it. Your strength, ingenuity, humor and love that has helped you along in during these past months would be a welcome and inspiring read. ...or Movie.

  5. Sounds like a wonderful day! We're looking forward to seeing you back in your own home. Sorry we couldn't make it Saturday either...out of town for early Christmas with the Browns. And I've got bronchitis anyway so no one wants to be around me coughing my fool head off. Jason's on vacation next week so I hope we can stop in for a visit...keeping fingers crossed that we'll be purged of all viruses by then :)

    I'm sure it will take some adjusting when you move home, but, really, "normal" is constantly changing all the time...yours more so than some, of course. Just being with your family will keep you motivated and inspired.

    Love you guys! See you soon! Oh...and let me know what I can bring over next week for food! Maybe some enchiladas and black bean salad to contrast with all the Christmas goodies?