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I'm most recently a writer.  In the six plus decades of my life, I've been a wife, mother, grandmother, Jill of all trades though mistress of but a few, and most of the time pretty content with my lot.  As a much younger person, I believed I was called to write, but life and living distracted me for most of those decades.  An unwilling transplant from the South,  twenty years ago I unintentionally landed in the geographical center of the US.  Writing came about in part due to the unwillingness, I expect.  When caring for family, gardening, and renovating a century-old house failed to provide sufficient creative outlets, I turned to the one thing I always intended to do.  Eight titles later, I'm grateful I found myself while Lost in the Plains!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

At Long Last Home

I thought about posting many times during the past two weeks. I could have told you about John's move to the Intensive Inpatient Rehab wing of a hospital less than an hour from home. I could have told you about the massive and frustrating effort to get a wheelchair ramp built, the hard work and sweat that went into turning our home literally upside down to accommodate our new life, or the morning I dropped everything to rush to the hospital and deliver a stern lecture on the need to take the anti-depressant he'd refused, not realizing he had slipped into an uncharacteristic lethargy that could sideline his rehab. But frankly things were moving too fast or too slowly for me to find time to write anything meaningful.

John endured ten days of intensive rehab--four hours daily of therapy designed to teach the patient to be as independent as possible while protecting himself from further injury and those at home from burn-out or even injuring themselves. He learned to "walk" short distances using a walker, one leg and his arms. He learned to dress using a "grabber" and to wheel himself in a chair. He learned to lift his bad leg with his good one when getting on and off the bed, to "kick out" a leg using muscles that don't remember how to "kick." He did it patiently, even graciously, and in between he slept the sleep of the dead and watched Wimbledon on television. At seventy-eight, all that work took a toll, but in the end, he met the goals and was rewarded with a homecoming, rather than a transfer to a skilled nursing facility.

The house was ready for him, I was ready for him, and he was more than ready to come home. We still don't have a ramp, but thanks to some determined friends and volunteers, the work should begin this week. Fortunately, our son-in-law and grandson spend a lot of time working out, so they were able to "lift" him, wheelchair and all, up the steps and into the house. We watched breathlessly as he rolled himself through the rooms, checking out the changes and discovering the potential barriers during his first few minutes at home. (My daughter compared the sight to a pet returning from a visit to the boarding kennel, sniffing out his favorite places and investigating anything new.) Once he was satisfied, he headed straight for his recliner and kicked back for a much deserved rest. And I went back to work.

I thought it would be easier once we were home. I imagined having more time without the daily trips to the hospital; time to cook our favorite meals and watch television with my husband, time to work in the garden or even write. I was kidding myself. Slowly, at times painfully, we're learning what works and doesn't work in this new life. We're discovering the barriers and ways to circumnavigate them--narrow doorways, odd angles, unaccommodating furniture. I seem to walk miles of extra steps as I figure out better ways to organize all the new things added to our daily routine. It's only been two days. I'm sure this will get easier. But already near exhaustion from preparing for his homecoming, I've been pushed to the limit to make it as painless as possible for both of us.

Tomorrow, something else new will begin. Home health will visit three times a week. Nursing, Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy will all claim their bits of our days. There are appointments to schedule with the surgeon three hours north in Kansas City and a spinal specialist two hours west in Wichita and the resulting road trips to look forward to. And of course, there will be the bills to look forward to as well.

Through it all, we'll be here together, God willing. For us, home has always been a haven. It is the space we share, filled with the things we treasure. It is humble and eccentric, an old house in which we've shaped a new home over the past fifteen years. After twenty-three days, coming home means we successfully passed the latest test to return to our life, modified though it may be. We still have a long way to go, healing and probably more surgery, and neither of us is fooling ourselves that all is well just yet. Still, coming home is the best possible end to this leg of the journey. Wherever it takes us next, if we start out from the sanctuary of home, I think we'll be ready.

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