Bob continues to recover from a brutal and horrific assault. He deals with a traumatic brain injury owing to extended oxygen deprivation. Identification of any cognitive deficits will be determined by neurological and psychological evaluations later this month. Dawn and Keith (his daughter and son-in-law and primary care givers), with the help of Bob’s therapist, work hard to facilitate his thrust for wholeness.
It’s not easy. For one so accustomed to control, physical disability and complete dependence is a struggle. For caregivers, family, and friends, the struggle is to resist “doing” for him at the risk of robbing him of his progress toward independence.
Once a month, I spend a week with Bob to give Dawn and Keith a break. His condition has declined since the last time I saw him a month ago. He appears angry, depressed.
I don’t know how I would feel in Bob’s situation. I don’t push. I let him be. I wait for him. He tells me whatever he he wants to tell me. Sometimes it’s funny. We share a good laugh. I love to see those flashes of the “old” Bob that remind me of the good times. More often, he’s somber, serious.
“I’m lucky to be alive,” Bob says. “I nearly bled all out. Twelve pints of blood. No wonder I’m a retard.”
“I don’t think that’s the case,” I say. “I don’t know how you feel, but I can imagine it’s frustrating and humiliating.”
“Yes,” he says. “It is.”
“But, the fact that you’re alive says a lot about who you are. That’s why you’ve got to fight the fight.”
“That’s what I try to do,” he says. “I try to do my best.”
“You can only do your best,” I say. “And the best you can do right now is not the best you used to do. So, you have to do the best you can do where you are.”
“That’s a good point,” says Bob. “Thank you.”
I wheel him to the bedroom, parking the wheelchair parallel to his hospital bed. Bob raises himself to a standing position. I reach out to steady him, turning him with his back to the bed so that he can sit down and roll himself on to it.
“Let me do it,” he says.