Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Dreams in the meantime

Yesterday I read back through old blog posts from last year, this, this, and this. We have come so far, but there's so much farther to go.

Today, after nine and a half months of tests, speculation, therapy, skilled nursing, and dozens of doctor visits, ten and a half weeks prior to our one year stroke anniversary, Mr. PNU's neurologist offered to refer him to a University of Utah stroke specialist. Doctors have pinpointed Hashimoto's disease and thyroid nodules, removed his inflamed gallbladder, diagnosed temporal lobe epilepsy, discovered testicular failure, treated him for severe sleep apnea, and prescribed blood thinners for his repeated deep vein thrombosis. But we still have no definitive cause for the clot that lodged itself in his right carotid artery and wiped out 2/3s of his right hemisphere.

Had I known the referral was an option, I would have asked for it months ago. We heartily accepted her offer. A specialist doesn't guarantee answers, but it offers us the chance to discuss why we're here and other existing possibilities that we don't yet know to ask about.

As we pulled away from the neurology clinic and headed up State Street toward Neuroworx, Mr. PNU turned to me with a sort of wonder and said, "You really love me."

"Was that ever in question?" I asked.

When I pray, I ask to see far enough into the future to make the next clear decision, to discover real avenues of exploration in guiding our course through the recovery of my husband's identity and our lives. Inevitably, that's what I'm given, and rarely more.

A few weeks ago Mr. PNU declared, "Christ is healing me. It's a slow process, but it's steady, and it is happening."

I'm not going to assume full recovery is possible. But I'm willing to allow myself continued surprise, to be wrong and delightedly so. If someone had told me last May that we'd attain what we have in nine months I would have responded skeptically. There was simplicity in accepting our prognosis. And contrary to the supposition of those who have questioned my faith in this process, I'm learning that faith isn't assurance of any sort of outcome, just as my husband has learned that patience isn't waiting. The challenge to keep going never eases, even when I wonder how long I'll be able to maintain determined effort to remain determined. Mr. PNU slips in between moments where he is comfortable moving forward like cooling tar, and periods of utter frustration and insecurity that his life will never be different than it is today.

Focusing on the sluggish forward momentum keeps my mind off harsh, unavoidable realities. I struggle to remember my husband pre-stroke. The more I try to recall his balanced stride, his even confidence, and his old, jovial nature I fear I am confusing my memories with fantasy. Sunday evening, unable to conjure images of him other than wheelchair bound, I found myself facing down the fact that the man I keep trying to recreate will never return. Denial won't bring him back. No amount of daydreaming will bring him bounding into our bedroom late on some spring afternoon to make love to me, or make him suddenly appear walking toward me in the hallway at the Pie Tin. The ache for those missing parts of him nearly tore me in half. I found myself angry, angrier than I've been since April. I turned that anger flippantly toward God, raging in my heart that He's reduced us in this way, holding nothing back in my murmuring. I sobbed for hours, screamed into my pillow until my swollen eyelids folded in on my eyes. As the heated edge of this pain burnt away I succumbed to sleep. I woke on Monday and acknowledged that all those absent miraculous sightings have been replaced by a strange and joyous surprise each morning I find Mr. PNU beside me when we wake.

We continue—faithful and patient.

You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

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