This evening, there is tranquility around me and better yet, within me. I am not experiencing anxiety or stress. This is a rare thing for me; like purple-hoofed unicorn rare. I love where the sun is hanging in the late-day sky; my bedroom is draped in a golden light, and the sun-soaked ocean from my window is rippling with aqua glitter and diamonds. Prana is laying like a white scarf across my neck, sleeping. My home, which is usually an abyss of chaos, clutter and mess, is clean. My bed has fresh sheets sprayed with lavender. The air smells like a cocktail of vanilla and lemons.
I’ve had a tremendously productive day; cleaned the house, found Patrick an eptimologist, made several other calls, paid bills, ate extremely clean and healthy food, swam laps for 30 minutes, signed up for a site that streams Yoga, and laid with my boyfriend for two hours under a canopy of cerulean skies. Patrick played drums for 20 minutes (OT-ST), practiced his Music Glove for 30 minutes (OT-ST), swam assisted laps in the pool for 20 minutes and walked the pool several times (PT), napped, and also ate clean. And the best part? There hasn’t been an emotional outburst from either of us all day. It’s been the kind of day that we strive for every day, but rarely achieve. And it’s a day that I’m sure doesn’t sound extraordinarily spectacular to many of you, but for us who are running on the never-ending TBI treadmill, today was… well, pretty close to paradise.
Speaking of which, it has actually been anything but paradise for us these past two weeks, which is why I haven’t had time to blog. If anything, we’ve been experiencing troubles in Prana-dise that have been turning are already stressed life onto its head. Prana was a beautiful idea and she is a wonderful addition to our family. But if you’ve ever raised a 9-week-old kitten, well, you know that they are tiny, spastic balls of patience-sucking fluff.
On the upside, Patrick instantly took to the role of fur-baby Daddy. He is a wonderful poppa. He has taken on the role of feeding her, changing her litter, scooping her poo, and playing and loving on her. As a caregiver you learn quickly that just about anything can become therapy for your brain-injured love ones… and I can’t think of better therapy than making Patrick a care-giver himself. He is doing very well, and even made a (minimally assisted) call to set up her first vet-appointment! Just as I take him to his appointments, talk to doctors, and pay for visits, our goal is that he will do the same with Prana.
On the downside, (and this is not his fault), his brain injury has caused him to be at times unreasonably concerned for her safety. Preservation (the tendency to get stuck on an idea or thought) is a very real thing for brain-injured people. He worries above and beyond the amount I feel is necessary, which can be a strain on our relationship, but hey, I’d rather he worry too much, than not care about the kitten at all ( another very common issue for TBI survivors).
Back on the upside, Prana has shifted the energy in our home. She is delightfully precious, flopping on her back, asking for belly scratches, crashing her crinkle ball and feather duster around, and being an adorable lap-kitten when she wants to be.
But thennnn again on the downside, the darn kitten won’t let us get any sleep at night! When I brought Prana home I was already into my 4th night without rest. Then, she slept with us for two nights like a little saint, and I thought “Wow! People make SUCH a big fuss about raising a kitten. This is a piece of cake.” And then? Then, Prana got comfy in her environment and her inner Indiana Jones came out! She was zooming across the room all night long in search of the lost Ark, which I assume she thought was full of cat-nip! Biting our faces and ankles while we sleep, knocking over things, falling off dressers, while her little bell around her little neck jingle-jangled non-stop. We tried locking her in the bathroom, but that only caused her inner banchee to release itself from the bowels of hell! I’ve never known something so tiny could make a noise so deafening! Maybe she doesn’t realize how loud she is because she can’t hear? I have no idea. But night after night, we all went without sleep. Yep, we were true parents now.
It was not an easy stretch of days for us. No sleep means Patrick’s TBI symptoms are greatly intensified. No sleep for me means my patience becomes razor thin. You combine those two things and it’s like a spark to a stick of dynamite. KABOOM. We were ripping each other’s heads off… (although I admit I was doing a lot more of the ripping than he was), and I started to think I had made a mistake getting Prana.
But just when I thought all was lost, our family began to adjust and change. We let Prana sleep with us again, but made sure to tire her out during the day, and especially before bed. Even though we are still not sleeping through the night, we are getting larger chunks of sleep with her resting with us.
Perhaps the greatest upside to all of this, is that the total lack of sleep combined with our very full schedule, forced me to re-evaluate my priorities. I realized that I could no longer go on taking poor care of my health, and expect to continue at the present pace indefinitely. For instance, Patrick and I, always on the run, have been eating fast-food for many of our meals, and it’s been extraordinarily expensive and unhealthy. So on Sunday, I forsake other plans, and went to the food store. Then, I spent 3 hours in the kitchen, preparing 14 healthy dinners for me and Patrick, and packaging up snack bags of fresh fruit, vegetables, hummus and nuts. Yesterday, I began a clean-eating program called the “21-day fix.” It’s a radical change from how I’ve been eating due to lack of preparation, and I already feel much better.
Secondly, I’ve been attempting to go to Yoga for months, but we really can’t afford it, and it’s also incredibly hard to find the time to commute to a class and back. So tomorrow I am going go begin doing yoga on my patio via live streaming from a $10 per-month website. Awesome!
Seriously though, I know it won’t be possible for me to keep our house immaculate every day. And everything I put in my mouth won’t be clean. I probably will miss some days of Yoga. Because, no matter how hard we try, TBI always shows up at our door as the eternal uninvited house guest with no agenda other than to mess us up and wear us out.
But for tonight, Prana, Patrick and Anj are at peace. And I’m feeling good about these changes, and eager to see what they manifest for us tomorrow.