Sunday, June 29, 1997

Journal entry, post-op

6/29 Sun. I’ve been in Oakland with Neil since Friday when he was released from Highland after his surgery. Funny, on an impulse, I’d packed my bag that morning, somehow knowing I was to leave, when the phone rang, Neil asking me to care for him—out of the blue. I was not consciously expecting it, but I was nearly frantic with a desire to be with him.

Driving down to Oakland in his car alone was one of the hardest things I’ve attempted since the accident. I couldn’t put the car in reverse nor crank the wheel. I had no upper body strength where they sliced my right pectoral to insert the valve. And my left side was still useless.

Ortho put my arm in a sling, a brace on my wrist. Highland is a trauma center where the addicts, the homeless and those suffering from the fallout of violent crime land to either recuperate, or die. So different from Kaiser. Neil was lucky, a whole cadre of doctors rebuilt his face from the jaw up. But recovery is akin to reliving the pain of the accident. How much more pain can he endure? Not enough Vicodan to last until Thursday. I enjoy caring for him but too many visitors wears us both out. Friends and old girlfriends call—I can tell by the tone of his voice!

Today I fed him mashed yams thinned with broth, introducing food for the first time in 10 days. Ten days into the nightmare… I told him our lives are irrevocably altered, We can’t go back to who we were. Ever. We are like Siamese twins, joined at the psyche. Where does one of us end and the other begin?

Last night he felt too frisky for his own good, serenading me with his broken mouth, jabbering up a storm till all hours. Tonight he’s paying dearly for that excess. Deep exhaustion and pain. I check for fever, worried we’ve introduced too many new foods today. Smoothies too. But I also worry about his nutrition. He needs to knit bones.

Alison wanted me to stay at her house tonight, she’d stay with Neil. But I didn’t want to go. She’s afraid I’ll get burnt out. I appreciate her concern, but I sense a darkness, an irritation—territorial? Something doesn’t quite ring true. Determined, I fight to stay. I’m almost irrational with fear of leaving him—as if my very presence was keeping him alive.

Adele Foley took me shopping for healthy foods—a grueling 2 hour excursion. Shopping at Lucky’s is almost more than I can bear. I slipped on a lettuce leaf, and it took all I could muster to keep from falling, but the pain was so intense I nearly fell anyway.

I now have trouble reading fine print on the labels.( Do I have a concussion too? I took a good bang on my right temple. Neil’s elbow, I think. Reading’s hard in general, I can’t seem to make sense of the words. They either float about, or collectively lose their meaning. My cognitive skills rearranged.) Adele is my eyes. I am determined to get the best nutritional food possible for Neil. B vitamins, connective tissue, healing—all my previous study of biology and nutrition comes into play.

Everything in the 20th century seems to exhaust me: lights, noise, color, chrome, a riot of details all demanding my attention until I’m reeling....

(There's more to this day's journal entry, just not sure if I should post's too raw. even nearly 20 years later. So I'll end here for now. The electronic journal goes up to the end of August. I couldn't physically write, and the PTSS was so bad, I couldn't spell either, this is where I make a break with my nearly 20 year tradition of daily journal writing. I migrated more and more to the computer as it was easier. I miss the process, but not the shaky hand, A printout of these journal entries were rediscovered in an old notebook (trying to fluff out my blog), and posted 10/4/2016. Luckily I found the electronic file, it'd be too daunting to redo all this. It's daunting just to read it.)

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