4th August 2004
On Monday at 8:30, Ari was expected back at Kensington Hospital for a progress assessment. Leonard and I took him in the Prado – perhaps not the best idea, since it is very high to get into. Nevertheless, now that Ari actually assists by walking his feet along the ground, and then walking his knees onto the seat, it wasn’t that bad. The guard at the hospital didn’t even need to help. Everyone who saw him and had known him in his catatonic state previously were all amazed to see him sitting so comfortably in his wheelchair, talking to them and laughing at the situation. Ari spent three hours there, without us, answering questions from the therapists and showing them what he could do. We went home, I had a shower at last and then it was time again to go for the family meeting. Lauren, Ilse and Elen told us what they thought, and what their plan was going to be, encouraging us to keep up the good work at home and with Pippa and Michelle, the private therapists, and that they would liaise with them so as to work along an identical plan. Sheryl subsequently decided it was not necessary for Pippa to come anymore as we can do all those exercises alone.
After the assessment, we took Ari to the Doll’s House Roadhouse for Burger and Chips – that went down well ! Even though I discreetly had to help Ari have a piss in the Bottle in the parking lot (inside the car). Hey Ari still managed to eat faster than me ! I was talking of taking Ari to the drive-in this week-end with Mario and Spencer, while the family was away, that should be do-able – Leonard says, well why don’t you and Ari come to Dullstroom too ? Mmmm. Ok, why not ?
We are now giving Ari a bath every evening, Leonard gets half undressed and holds Ari’s head up by sitting at the end of the bath with his feet in. Sheryl or I wash Ari’s body. He often falls asleep, and also manages to relax enough to stretch his legs easily and painlessly. Then I put a dining room chair in the bathroom covered with a plastic sheet and some towels, onto which we haul Ari, dry him off and dress him, before going back to the wheelchair and watching TV. We have to be really strong to pull him by the shoulders and get his bum off the chair to put his pants on him ! He laughs all the time, especially when we puff and huff at the effort and can’t get him sitting properly. I’m glad he thinks it’s funny ! Laughter is good medicine.
Every now and then, quite often actually, Ari asks me What year is it ? how long have I been out ? what are our kids’ names ? what did I miss theses last few years ? what job did I use to do ? why do we now stay in my parents’ house ?
The Occupational Therapist, Michelle Cahi came to work with Ari in the morning, after I returned from the shops. I was in a frightful mood, very tired and irritated. But I found these herb pills called Moodex from Herbology, so I took one, and I did seem to be in a good mood all day: I took the kids swimming and played with them, had a hot chocolate after, and then cooked dinner dancing with Louis Armstrong ! I shall carry on with them ! Violet came in the afternoon to give a hand with Ari.
On Tuesday night, we had decided that Violet would return to have a night with Ari so that I could have a proper night’s sleep, have a bath and have time to get the kids ready before school and Kensington. Oh my, perhaps a very bad idea, he got very angry, calling me incessantly and wanting to go sleep with me. He would tell violet that he wants her to go, she must go home, he doesn’t need her help, he’s going to sleep in his own bed. Very very angry.
I left him at 20h00, as I couldn’t take the mental harassment any longer – we had made a choice and were going to stick to it. He continued arguing until 23h or 23h30, but I had fallen asleep so deeply that I didn’t hear a whisper … In the morning he awoke at 05h00, but I didn’t hear him either. When I went in, he was still angry with me, wanted his breakfast, but sulking terribly. That was quite interesting, because usually he forgets everything after falling asleep, like an automatic eraser. But now, he woke up as though he were still last night, he was saying I want to go sleep in your bed, I want Violet to go, I don’t want to sleep alone, I want to go have a bath with you. Well that morning started badly. Eventually we were all packed off in our cars – Ari with Leonard in the Prado, and the kids with me in the Polo off to school.
Bev the Neuropsychologist, who hadn’t been able to see Ari on Monday, was very impressed with him today. She who had always been the harbinger of doom ! From very gloomy in June with things like you’ll never recover your Ari as he was before … to well well, his cognitive abilities seem to be in perfect condition ! he could answer questions and remember sequences that even Leonard had trouble following ! So good to know !!!
I spent the morning completely free: coffee with my mum, coffee with Genevieve along with a spiritual talk, and lunch with Gina, Lindsay and Adele in Eastgate; and then ended with a sneaky little bit of shopping.
The afternoon was very relaxed, Ari wanted to ask me more of the same questions, and then he got very tired, probably from this morning’s early mental work and lack of sleep last night. He’s been walking with his feet in his wheelchair, gaining mobility that way, but today he wasn’t up to it, and when Ilana and Rodney came to visit (Sheryl’s sister and her husband), he was falling asleep and rubbing his eyes. Sheryl took him away to the park with the kids. When she came back, she told me he had seemed like he wanted to cry, he’d asked her if he was dreaming, when could he wake up ? and why this had happened to him. It seems he is starting to awake to his emotions. One day, I had told him about Neil and John, and he said, they’re lucky, they’ve gone to heaven – but I’m lucky I got to stay with my wife !
Ari had a bath after the kids then supper, which he ate all by himself, he’s getting very good at that. We laugh when he drops food on the floor, and I help him when the pasta doesn’t want to go into his spoon. The maid Francina and I put Ari to bed, then the kids, then I joined him and we watched Friends together. The kids kept coming back for hugs and to bring messages and show us things … Now that was a relaxed evening. I taught Ari how to push himself back up into a near sitting position when he kept slipping down, using his feet to push and walking back with his bum and elbows. It seems to work quite well. He fell asleep while we watched a movie. Now it seems like we may just make it if we work together.
Friday 6th August 2004
Gavin came to visit Ari ! We’d almost lost hope … Gavin used to be Ari’s best friend, being our neighbour, they always used to go fishing together, and Gavin worked at Ari’s shop for a while. Ari was so surprised to see Gavin ! he hadn’t visited since Sunninghill, where he must have been quite affected by what he saw. I know I still find it difficult to visit people in hospitals or even at home after illness or injury … I think Gavin was pleasantly surprised to see Ari laughing so much and willing to work with us so hard. They had a good talk, and lunch together.
I told Gavin Ari was going to Dullstroom tomorrow to get some fishing done. So we both went to Ari’s old office to see if we could rig him up a decent Trout set-up. I hadn’t unpacked the gear from the accident yet, so it felt a bit weird. I’d only unpacked the cameras, and slapped all the fishing stuff into a corner. While we were fiddling there outside in the sun, Sheryl offers for Gavin to join us at the farm this weekend. What a brilliant idea ! I think we’ve all had enough of each other, so a presence like Gavin will be more than welcome. Well, I don’t mean that we can’t stand the sight of each other, on the contrary, I’ve only become more comfortable with my in-laws since Ari’s been home. So that’s settled, we have another passenger. Doesn’t matter if we have to squash up !