316.February 19

London, UK

Today was full of hassles. I forgot my towel, so my shower this morning, besides being warm and strong, took a long time for debriefing. We all took tubes to St. Paul's, but Holborn Station was closed down. John and I got off at Russell Square, and by my mistaken direction, walked to Euston Station, where we caught the Northern line to Bank. We did not go into St. Paul's Cathedral, because we were late. Nearly everyone was. We waited for those who had gone in to come out, and then walked down Strand to the Temple Bar. Our mishaps eventually brought us to Sir John Soane's Museum, which was his house, but he treated it as a museum to show his friends his collections of ruined Greek, Roman, and Egyptian Art. I must go back. There was far too much to see just once.

We all went Covent Garden, where I ate Lasagna and fried potatoes alone in a basement bar at the Punch and Judy. We met again at the London Transport Museum Entrance, after David first got us lost in suburbs on the way, then to the Tate, which is the foremost collection of English art. He gave us a tour of the Tate, Rooms 1-11, paying particular attention to Hogarth and pre-Raphaelites. Then I saw the entire Turner Collection, and met up with people to go to theatres. Becca and I left for a 16:30 matinee of Waiting for Godot at the Lyric Hammersmith, but the tube took too long, so we went to Leicester Square, and join the others, who all bought tickets to Olleana. Then we separated. Becca, EB and I went to a coffee and cake bar called A Piece of Cake. We sat outside, in the square on a table. We met EB's friend Julie. Then we went to a pub just across the street from Gabby's for a pint at 18:00. We met Liz and David Faldet at Gabby's, a Middle Eastern restaurant with great falafel and talked about how David became a Prof. while drinking Maccabees, a beer I first had during my trip to Israel last year.

We walked the short distance to Duke of York's Theatre, and "Olleana" started. It was a David Mamet play about a professor being accused of sexual harassment. The first half I found humorous, but annoying, because neither character was good at expressing and ideas. I had ginger wine(Stone's) in between. To the shock of the theatre goers, she pressed sexual harassment and the rape charges on her professor in the second half. This was a strange play to see with David Faldet, my professor. We found a Duncan Donuts and discussed the play. I found that I disagreed immensely with the others' ideas of the play's meaning and intentions. Stacey's wallet was stolen from her coat by the kids who sat behind us, so we went to the police station to file a complaint. We got back to the hostel after midnight.


After work, I met up with Jill and Rachel at Mabe's Pizza for a few slices and beer and wine. We talked for a while, and then Rachel and I left to look for a gift for Faust for his birthday party that night. We arrived there shortly after 18:30. I met and had wonderful conversations with many new people, including a Jennifer, a Blythe, and a Tim. There were so many old friends there as well, and it may very well be one of my favourite evenings when I stand before St. Peter and are naming my list of lists.


Great improvements with Sharon yesterday and promise for the future! Sometimes when we ask questions and we don't get the response we were looking for, it can seem like we are not being heard. But I saw and believe that not to be true. She is hearing, and understanding, or at least questioning what she is hearing all the time. I have resolved to endeavor not to confuse her. Sharon is emotionally brilliant. I believe that to the core, and when I talk to her I feel she has always been the only person that I can talk to with candor and clarity. Yesterday was remarkable for me, because as she ate her peaches and chocolate drink willingly and happily, she listened and responded to all of my stories.

Wednesday had been a long one for her. Tweeten serves food at 7am. She ate with the others in the main room, so she was put in a wheelchair early and stayed in it until noon. Lew, Rhonda, and then I had arrived after 10:30am, and by the time Dad fed her, she was having trouble keeping her head up.

I did read to her a wonderful picture book, The King, the Mice, and the Cheese after she was finished eating, and she did follow the pictures and the story. She turned 5 of the pages for me, even went back a page because I had passed it quickly and looked again at the pictures. I read her a bit from my journal for today, with a long section about my day in 1994 at University in Nottingham.

It was her first time keeping her head up without the aid of a bed or high back chair. And a lot of these things we have to think of as her first time, because it is her first time with this body. We can think of her right side as being asleep, like a heavy, unseen cat has been sleeping inopportunely on your leg for a long, long time, and you can't feel that limb, let alone move it, her right side has up until this afternoon, not moved perceptibly to the Physical Trainers.

That changed today.

After sleeping from the time the nurses moved her from her wheel-chair, until 4:00pm, Sharon was beginning to wake when I arrived. An Occupational Therapist was there when I arrived, and she hadn't been apprized much of Sharon's history. I was able to fill her in on what I know. It also turned out that the OT knew my name.

She had lived in my house in Nottingham, England 3 years later, and at the time was an accounting major. Because England does their accounts very differently, backwards in fact, that the US, she took other electives, which was probably why she is now working in a medical field instead.

We tried getting mom to react at this time, when she was still waking. She smiled to some things, and visibly enjoyed hearing our shared stories of living in England and reminiscences of Luther College.

She worked in the costume department in Storre Theatre, which is where I worked at the same time. Hilarious. After she left, I went through my lines for the play with Mom, during which time I saw more reaction from her that previously that day. She showed on her face curious interest, laughter, bewilderment, all at my mostly monologue scene for the upcoming YOOH show. She knew I was going through lines, and this definitely reminded her of the many times she'd helped me with lines in the past.

After that, she was alive with interest. We were interrupted by the Physical Therapist. He had stopped in at 1:30pm, when Mom was sleeping and I was there figuring out her TV and Cable. The Physical Therapist, who looks like Timothy Oliphant, studied at Iowa City and then Madison, Wisconsin and so we were able to talk street names and hold a nice conversation that mom followed, was very helpful.

After hearing what I knew about Sharon's progress, he saw that Sharon was watching both of us talk, on either side of her. She tracked his movements from side to side, describing that often people in this predicament don't want to look toward the side that is most affected by the stroke. She was able to track across both visual sides, which is great.

He took off her socks and had her move her right foot. It was not forthcoming, but he was patient, and she did move her foot, and her middle toes moved The same was attempted on the right foot, and there was a success. Again, Sharon was able to move the middle toes, showing she has some control over her right foot and side. There is only one way that is going to go, he stated, and we have very much promise that she will regain some movement with that foot. It was a HUGE break-through, and Sharon was very much a part of the conversation and research into what she could move. REMEMBER, that movement would be imperceptible if someone without the patience to wait for it and look for the small gains was conducting it. Make sure this Physical Therapist gets all the time he can spare with Sharon, because he is fantastic, and she likes him.

Both of these two therapists were wonderful to work with, and Sharon now knows all the things they share with me, and therefore with her, because she has shared my memories of these places too. I think these connections will benefit her greatly. And she was following these things, she showed it in her face, she responded. This was all monumental for me.

We read Chapter 7 of "Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves", a long and memorable chapter, where our Bertram Wooster, while sneaking down to the larder to procure some much needed steak and k. pie, overturns a much-treasured grandfather clock that had made it through a century of travels around the world. Bertie and the Ex-Magistrate owner of the estate were then trapped on top of a high chest above a snarling dog because of the brightness of the ex-m.'s new dressing gown. It was a story that held Sharon's attention, and one she remembers from the BBC adaptation.

The nurse came in, and as she fed Sharon a few bites of mangled peaches, we talked family. She mentioned her middle daughter died of cancer, or a stroke, I forget, but mom showed shock and went off her peaches. The nurse said "Doesn't she like peaches?" I saw that mom had reacted to the story, not the peaches. I said I would take over for her feeding mom, and the nurse left.

I told mom of many things, all of which she followed as she ate, and we took breaks so I could tell her all of the things going on in our lives. I told her about planning to build above the garage so we could move there while Dad is still living there, so that he can show us everything, and we can keep an eye on him as he gets older.

She was so happy with that. She was the best audience, and took every bite I offered her, but sometimes I needed to vary the order so the cran-apple juice did not follow the chocolate drink. It was nearly the best evening of my life. It was so nice to talk to her as I always would.

I would highly suggest that if you take your time with her, tell human stories, remembering the past but not only dwelling on it, tell her of your plans, she will follow, and she will then make the transition into understanding that this period of time in the hospital has deprived her of a connection with her life.

Tweeten is a very calming place to be, I think, compared to the hospital. I saw so much progress today, be it in small immeasurable doses.

Just remember, if trapped under a rock without a voice to scream, feeling few of your body parts except for the pain of healing, unable to move, but still having an imagination and the will to be a part of the life around you, could you respond any different than Sharon has up until now? We need to continue bringing her into our lives in the same way we always has so she has more and more reasons to try that which is hard to do.

She isn't learning as a baby would, I made that analogy before, and I see it as wrong.

A baby doesn't have memories and history, but is has had 9 months to accustom itself to its own body. Sharon has the memories, knows us, but is reincarnated into a body that is not responding the way she learned how to use it. She is relearning how to move her limbs. She is learning how her children and others look out of new eyes. She is acclimating to the light, how things move. But she has most of her memories just there, nearly in reach. If you remind her of them, she will have them again. I have hope like never before. Lets bring her back into her own life, to be with us.

I forgot to mention she also that she was laughing(inaudibly), smiling, sometimes making a high pitched squeak when she is trying to speak. Frowning expressively when you say things that maybe aren't the most rational. She nodded in a way to say yes to things, held my hand and wouldn't let go until asked so that I could go get a book, or something else.

She really participated in the conversation without speaking more than most humans would.