Friday, July 6, 2012

Rebecca Update

I haven't posted on Rebecca for awhile and you are definitely due for an update.

She is home and has been since April.  Her brother and sister-in-law moved in with them (both were unemployed at the time and had the flexibility to do so) to help provide the care she needs.  She is fairly able to do menial tasks, such as bathing, dressing, and other toiletry things, but she has trouble navigating more complex things, like cooking. She also cannot drive and has a multitude of doctor's appointments to go to every day, so it was a very fortunate thing that they had family able and willing to step into the role of caregivers and companions.

Her husband is in residency and his schedule is crazy busy.  He works long shifts, sometimes not coming home for two to three days at a time and grabbing whatever sleep he can at the hospital.  This was something that she had gotten used to before, primarily by keeping her own schedule very busy (a full time career and very busy social life) and also maintaining a strict exercise routine (she is a marathon runner).  She is still busy with appointments and goes to the gym daily, but I can tell that his schedule is harder for her to deal with now.

Her doctors tell her that she will know the full extent and permanence of her injuries at six months (September).  Physically, she is kicking ass and taking names.  She goes to the gym daily and is  trying to rebuild her strength.  She still has to use a cane to help with walking, but that is mostly because she gets tired very easily and the cane helps with that.  She has PT three times a week.  Her coordination is still a bit off, but considering where she started, she has come a long way.  The biggest thing she battles right now is the fatigue.  This is a girl that used to be non-stop, and learning to slow down is a challenge.  She still gets short of breath and heart palpitations, but her doctors assure her that this will pass and is only an indication of her body still recovering and not any permanent damage.

Her vision is back to a degree that is truly a miracle, and yet a great diappointment to her.  She is legally blind with very poor perhipheral vision.  She can see you if you are directly in front of her and can recognize you if the light is good enough and you are close enough.  She can read large text print in very bright light.  But driving is out of the question.

That makes returning to the career she has had for over a decade a current impossibility.  She has to be able to drive in order to return to work.  At this point, that isn't looking good. 

Her short term disability is out already, and they live primarily on her salary (her husband makes a salary as a resident, but his student loans are now in repayment and are astronomical).  Her pay is now cut to 75% of what it was.  This is a liveable amount, but they have a lot of medical bills starting to come in.  She goes to several appointments, each with their own co-pays, each week.  They are paying $200 in co-pays alone each week.

Whenever I talk to her (and it is rare that we talk anymore), she sounds desolate, depressed, and sad.  She has said repeatedly that her life is awful and while she knows she should be grateful to be alive, she has a hard time feeling gratitude.

The last time we spoke, she told me that she hated me because I am pregnant.  She added that she hates all of her pregnant friends.  I tried not to let that hurt me, because while I know the hurt of seeing people pregnant when you can't be, I can't imagine how that would feel when added to all of the other injustices that she is facing.

As for infertility. . . her doctors have cautioned her that pregnancy might be out of the question for her, even if pregnancy could be achieved.  They suspect an underlying clotting disorder, but she is still on massive quantities of blood thinners, so they cannot test her for those disorders until after she is off the medications.  They are waiting to do those tests and see where everything is in September.  She doesn't really want to talk about it, and I can understand that.

I call a lot, but she rarely returns my phone calls.  Occasionally, I manage to catch her, but she usually cuts our conversations off a few minutes in.  I have tried to make plans to see her, pick her up for a coffee or pedicure, drop by, etc., and she is always too busy.  Another girlfriend had a brother with a brain injury and she said he was the same way.  It took a long time for him to emotionally recover.  The only times that I have seen her are times that I drop by without asking, and the reception I get hasn't been good.  When we do talk, I can see how angry, sad, depressed, and unhappy she is.  I try to get through the walls she has put up, but I also am keenly aware (as I know she is, too) of my very obvious pregnancy.  I know it hurts her to see me and that is the last thing that I want.

So. . . that is where things are for Rebecca.  I will keep being there for her and trying, because she is too good of a person and friend for me to walk away from.  I do think it is better for me to keep reaching out, even if it means getting pushed away, so she at least knows that I am thinking of her.  I miss my friend and I wish there was more I could do for her.


It Is What It Is said...

Wow, what a mixed bag. On the one hand, she has her life and is adjusting to a new kind of normal and likely seeing improvements all the time. However, the degree to which she will recover to the level and quality she had before remains to be seen and will almost surely be diminished.

I feel for you as her friend but I know you know that she is not the same person, not now anyway and it seems to me that all you can do is let her know you are there for her when she wants while giving her this space (especially while you are so visibly pregnant).

Do you have a direct relationship with her husband (I hate to say this but I hope her marriage survives) and does he offer any insight? I know that the last thing you want to do is add insult to injury but I also know you don't want to abandon your friend.

Take it slow and I'll continue to send healing thoughts her way.

HereWeGoAJen said...

I'm glad that she is doing so well physically and I hope her emotions will continue to improve. It's totally understandable. I will keep thinking about her and praying for her.

Emily Erin said...

Thanks for the update. I am sad for her that she seems to be in such a hard place mentally. In all the appointments for physical therapy is she doing anything for her psychological wellbeing? I know that there are support groups for folks with TBI and it sounds like she could really use that kind of support right now. I also think your efforts to call are good-- sometimes you just need a space apart, but I am sad for you that someone who you were so close to has needed to distance herself and in that process hurt you. I wish that things were different for her and I commend you on being the kind of friend who makes sure that she doesn't feel abandoned. I, too, will keep praying for her.

Emily Erin said...

I recently heard a segment on NPR and thought of Rebecca. As someone who seems to love exercise, perhaps she could be involved in something like this:

I don't know where you're located, but perhaps having something that will allow her to feel a true participant (stoking is HARD work, it appears) might be a good thing? Know that I'm praying for her, and also, of course for you as you navigate the ups and downs of the end of your pregnancy. (That iron treatment sounds dismal-- I'm so sorry!)