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Practicing Grace and Graciousness

February 22, 2013

My dad had a stroke on Wednesday morning. Pretty serious, not fatal. He can talk but mixes up his words. He can’t walk or use his right side. He called me instead of the ambulance, but now I’m convinced that was his confusion.

About two hours after they got him to the regular ward, they said, “we might discharge him tomorrow.” I had an anxious reaction that was similar to what my dad’s when he’s upset. My tone of voice rose, I spoke louder, faster. I was worried they were going to send him to Seattle because he’s a veteran and lives closer to Seattle than Portland.

After a restless night’s sleep, I woke with more worry. But, as I sipped my morning coffee, all the lessons I’ve taught about breathing and softening and letting go of the need to force things came flowing back into my awareness. I widened my focus more and talked myself through the agenda for the day. Connect with the staff, listen to what they thought about his condition, advocate for him to be placed somewhere close to my family and I.

Easy.

I made it for almost 8 hours and then as the afternoon slipped away and I could see we weren’t making any progress about where he might go and the doctor was telling me they would discharge him tomorrow, I felt the grip of the shallow breathing, the tightening around my chest, and the sense of walking in sand and getting nowhere.

All day, I practiced softening and letting things go. Fortunately, my dad’s nurse was on top of everything. She knew how to keep her patients contented and made caring for them seem seamless. Each time he started rattling his water and ice on the last sips, she was right there with a refill. Her steady presence helped me.

It’s not over. It’s now Friday morning and we’re no closer to knowing where he’ll go. He’s snoring and doing bed gymnastics and trying to get comfortable. I’m waiting. Calmly. I’m the daughter on this go-round. Not the nurse, not the social worker, not anyone but the daughter who waits and watches and advocates for her family.

Over and over and over, every time the wheels of analysis become too strong, the surging of expectations builds up, I let it all go.

So little is ours to carry, so much we haul around as if we’ll need it in a McGyver-esque kind of way. Not anxiety I’m telling you. When it is used up, when that moment has passed, it begins to putrify.

And I keep practicing.

Many grateful thoughts to my friend, Wally Walsh, for covering my Feldenkrais classes at the last moment and for walking this path with me like he walked it with his own father. Thank you, Wally.

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14 Comments
  1. pamela granata permalink

    You are such a great example as to how we can get our power back. I went thru a similar situation but my reality went on for over 6 months. I too found I couldn’t breath a lot of the time. I actually had to remember to actually take a breath.

    • Pam….6 months is a long time. Next time, grab me and we’ll breathe together. I still want to work with your feet 🙂

  2. It really is a practice, isn’t it? Thanks for the power of your experience and insight. Blessings to your Dad, your family and this walk that you’ll all do together.

  3. Matt Williams permalink

    Awesome post, Kim. Prayers and love to your dad, you, and your whole family.

    • Mattie….thanks! It takes a village and its beautiful to see mine in action. Feeling very shored up. xo

  4. Heather mac permalink

    Sending love to you and your dad Kim! Glad you have some good nurses!

    • Aw, Heather, that you were his nurse. So glad to see you with our man in that side of the pond. I heart FB for that. Enjoy your time.

  5. Heather permalink

    Blessings on all involved; I’ll send my guardian angel to assist yours.

  6. Kim, you model this wonderful way of being with your experience….no matter how challenging the situation may be. It is beautiful and inspiring to witness. Love, courage, resiliency, perseverence, allowing, being….it is truly the stuff of a wonderfully vital human. Wishing peace and ease for you and your father.

    -W

    • Thank you for the support and compassion. If I am these things, then so are those around me, since we are drawn to those like us. Hugs, friend.

  7. Cindy Roundtree permalink

    Kim,
    As a PT, I’ve worked in hospitals, SNF’s, out-patient, and Home Health. The way the family is able to support the patient makes SUCH a difference in the care that is able to unfold from the medical people from doc’s to housekeepers.
    Your dad and all those surrounding him are all lucky to have you, at whatever level of presence you can muster at any given moment. You are an inspiration.
    Bless you,
    C (from KF)

    • Thank you, C. And especially the part about “whatever level of presence you can muster at any given moment.” It can’t be a constant, can it. I’m with you that it makes a difference. These first few weeks are critical and then we can settle into a more sustainable pace of supporting the process. I’ll keep this in mind.

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